PhD Fellowship in Structural Biology

Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen

PhD Fellowship in Structural Biology

Position: Research assistant + PhD fellow

Tenure: 1 year as research assistant + 3 years as PhD fellow   

Before entering the fellowship, the successful candidate will have an initial employment as Research assistant for 1 year scheduled to start first quarter of 2021.



Cryo-electron microscopy is used to investigate macromolecules and cells in a near-native state. In recent years, there has been a true revolution in this technique, allowing researchers to achieve near-atomic resolution. This has resulted in many ground breaking insights into biological problems that remained unsolved for decades, as well as the award of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 2017 to the pioneers who developed the method.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research (NNF-CPR, at the University of Copenhagen conducts fundamental research on proteins. The university has recently received a large grant (DKK 60 million/€7.8 million) from the Novo Nordisk Foundation to set up a state-of-the-art cryo-electron microscopy facility, based at the Center for Integrated Microscopy ( and anchored at the NNF-CPR ( The facility is now fully operational and includes a Titan Krios electron microscope equipped with Falcon 3EC direct electron detector and Volta phase plates. The center has also recently become part of a Danish-Swedish Microscope Alliance to strengthen Nordic Life Sciences, called the CryoNet collaboration ( The project has received €2 million in funding from the Novo Nordisk Foundation and the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.

The Taylor Group (Structural Biology of Molecular Machines, is recruiting a PhD fellow to work in this novel and ground-breaking area. The applicant should have a passion for discovering the inner workings of complex biological machines. The fellow will work in a collaborative and interdisciplinary environment.


Project Description   

We are looking for a motivated PhD candidate to join the Taylor group (Structural Biology of Molecular Machines) at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research at the University of Copenhagen. In the group we use cryo-electron microscopy combined with functional techniques to study the mechanisms of transport across biological membranes. Systems of interest include bacteriophages, secretion systems and human membrane transport proteins. For some recent publications, please see Taylor et al., Nature, 2016, Taylor et al., Nature, 2017, Manolaridis et al., Nature, 2018, and Santiveri et al., Cell, 2020.

As a PhD student, you will have the opportunity to work on a challenging and interesting project in our group, which is part of the dynamic environment of the Protein Structure & Function Program (headed by Guillermo Montoya). You will enjoy excellent access to state-of-the-art equipment and core facilities including those for protein expression and purification, as well as in-house access to the newly-acquired Titan Krios microscope with Falcon 3EC direct electron detector and Volta phase plates (as well as screening microscopes for negative stain and cryo-electron microscopy, including a new Glacios microscope with Falcon 3EC).


Required qualifications  

As an applicant you must have: 

  • Obtained (or expect to have obtained) a Master’s degree in molecular biology, biochemistry or related areas prior to the starting date
  • Fluency in English and excellent written and oral communication skills   


Preferred qualifications 

We are especially interested in candidates with previous experience in protein purification (particularly of large complexes and/or membrane protein(s)) and (cryo-) electron microscopy or other structural techniques, although all necessary training will be provided to help you succeed.


Job description 

During the first year as Research assistant, the candidate will have to formulate a PhD project, help out with research tasks and start become familiar with the research field of interest and apply for enrolment as PhD fellow.

Your key tasks as a PhD fellow at the Faculty are to: 

  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision 
  • Write scientific articles and the PhD thesis on the grounds of your research project 
  • Complete PhD courses or other equivalent education corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS points 
  • Obtain experience with teaching or other types of dissemination related to your PhD project 
  • Participate in the undergraduate teaching of students in pharmaceutical sciences
  • Participate in national and international congresses and scientific meetings  
  • Stay at an external research institution, preferably abroad 

Key criteria for the assessment of applicants 

  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD programme  
  • Relevant work experience  
  • Previous publications  
  • Grades and grade point average achieved
  • Other professional activities  
  • Language skills  

The following will be viewed very positively during the assessment of applicants 

  • Prior experience with cloning
  • Prior experience with protein purification, especially of membrane proteins
  • Prior experience with cryo-electron microscopy
  • Previous scientific publications as first author


Employment Conditions   

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research is seeking a PhD fellow in structural biology. The position is offered for a period of three years and employment is governed by the Protocol on PhD Research Fellows signed by the Danish Ministry of Finance and AC (the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations).   

The successful candidate must apply for enrolment as a PhD student at the SUND Graduate School. Employment as a PhD fellow will be conditional on successful enrolment in the PhD program.

Prior to employment as a PhD student, there will be 1 year of employment as research assistant.

The starting salary as research assistant for candidates with an MSc degree will be a minimum of DKK 29,643.95 (April 2020 level) plus pension contribution, with the possibility of salary negotiation.

The position is open from January 1, 2021.



For further information, please contact Associate Professor Nicholas Taylor, For administrative information please contact the Administrator,


How to apply?

The application must be submitted in English by clicking “apply online” below and must include the following:   

  • Letter of motivation 
  • A summary of the results of your research career to date
  • CV with contact details of three references and a complete list of publications, if applicable
  • Transcripts of university studies (BSc and MSc, showing individual grades)

Informal enquiries can be addressed to

The deadline for applications is 29 October 2020 at 23:59 CET   

Any applications received after this time will not be considered.   

We only accept online applications.


Recruitment Process   

In addition to the above material, the Assessment Committee may include further material in their assessment of the applicants. In such circumstances, it is the responsibility of the applicant, on request, to send the material to the Committee. Receipt of the applications will be acknowledged. The applicant will be assessed according to the Ministry of Science Technology and Innovation Executive Order no. 284 of April 25th 2008.   

After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Appointments Committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an expert assessment committee. Selected applicants are notified of the composition of the committee and each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself.   

Highly motivated and ambitious candidates are encouraged to apply. Solid experience and an excellent track record gained in leading laboratories in the research field will be considered a distinct advantage. In all cases, ability to perform the job will be the primary consideration, and thus we encourage all - regardless of their personal background and status - to apply.   

For more information on working and living in Denmark, please see and


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Nicholas M I Taylor


Application deadline: 29-10-2020
Employment start: 01-01-2021
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Novo Nordisk Center for Protein Research

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