PhD Fellowship on Protein Phase Separation in Complex Environments

Department of Pharmacy - Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences - University of Copenhagen

A PhD position on Protein Phase Separation in Complex Environments is available starting on July 1st, 2024 at the Department of Pharmacy at the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) in Denmark.

The Department of Pharmacy at the University of Copenhagen is devoted to research and research-based teaching in drug formulation and manufacturing, drug-related analytical and physical chemistry, drug metabolism, chemical toxicology, and medicines use. The Department plays a key role in advancing the pharmaceutical sciences in Denmark and internationally. The scientific and teaching objectives of the Department encompass the areas of Pharmaceutical Technology and Engineering; Advanced Drug Analysis; Pharmaceutical Design and Drug Delivery; Biologics; and Clinical and Social Pharmacy. Read more about the Department of Pharmacy at https://pharmacy.ku.dk/

Project overview

Biomolecular self-assembly is a key process in physics and chemistry and rules the correct functioning of living systems. In addition, many of the most prevalent human neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer´s and Parkinson´s, are characterised by the presence of so-called amyloid aggregates in the brain, which are the result of protein self-assembly. Several of the proteins identified in amyloid aggregates have been shown to undergo a process called liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS). The project aims to study intra and inter-protein interactions that initiate LLPS in intrinsically disordered protein (IDP) systems using small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS) combined with microscopy and fluorescence techniques. The project is funded by the Villum Foundation to Professor Vito Foderà (Department of Pharmacy), and in collaboration with the University of Cambridge (UK) and Forschungszentrum Juelich (DE).

Information about the research group of Prof. Vito Foderà can be found here and here.

The successful applicant will specifically work on 1) developing robust experimental protocols for the analysis of IDP systems in conditions initiating LLPS at different length and time scales in vitro systems mimicking cells and 2) realizing in-house software for the advanced analysis of the generated data. Together with researchers in our international team, the successful applicant will report novel insights on the physical laws regulating the phenomenon of LLPS in complex environments. The candidate will work in close collaboration with two Postdocs who are focused on combining theoretical modeling and X-ray-based methods to shed light on the liquid-to-solid transition of IDP systems. In our group, we strive for excellence and both out-of-the-box ideas and collaborative abilities are considered very important skills.

Job description

Your key tasks as a PhD student at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences are:

  • Carrying through an independent research project under supervision
  • Completing PhD courses or other equivalent education corresponding to approximately 30 ECTS points
  • Participating in active research environments including a stay at another research team, preferably abroad
  • Obtaining experience with teaching or other types of dissemination related to your PhD project
  • Teaching of undergraduate students in pharmaceutical sciences
  • Writing a PhD thesis on the grounds of your project

Required Qualifications

In connection with the appointment special importance will be attached to the applicant having the professional and personal qualifications stated below:

  • Obtained by July 1st 2024 a Master´s degree in physics, chemistry, biology, nanotechnology, (bio)physics, (bio)chemistry or related areas
  • Excellent English speaking, reading and writing skills
  • Creativity and ability to be both team-oriented and independent
  • Capability of working at the interface between different disciplines
  • Embrace of an international research environment

Preferred Qualifications

We are looking for a highly motivated candidate with an open-minded attitude towards quantitative analysis of the experimental data. The ideal candidate should also have a strong background and/or hands-on research experience within one or several of the fields mentioned below:

  • Protein science and biophysical characterization of protein samples
  • Small angle X-ray scattering (experiments and advanced data analysis)
  • Principles of synthetic biology
  • Microscopy-based techniques
  • Protein expression and purification
  • Coding (e.g. Python)

Highly motivated and ambitious candidates are encouraged to apply. Solid experience and an excellent track record gained in the field of protein science and synthetic biology will be considered a distinct advantage. We encourage all the qualified individuals - regardless of their personal background and status - to apply.

Key criteria for the assessment of applicants

  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project
  • Relevant work experience
  • Previous publications
  • The grade point average achieved
  • Other professional activities
  • Language skills.
  • The successful applicant is also required to be enterprising and to possess good interpersonal skills.

Formal requirements

The successful applicant will be requested to formally apply for enrolment as a PhD student at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences according to the rules stipulated in the Ministerial order on the PhD programme at the universities (PhD order, 2013) and the guidelines for the PhD programme at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences.

The PhD student is expected to be affiliated to the graduate programme in pharmaceutical sciences, Drug Research Academy.

Terms of employment

The average weekly working hours are 37 hours per week. The position is a fixed-term position limited to a period of 3 years.

The employment is conditioned upon the applicant’s successful enrolment as a PhD student at the Graduate School at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project to the Graduate School of Health and Medical Sciences. 

Salary, pension, and terms of employment are in accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. Depending on seniority, the monthly salary starts at approximately 28,993 DKK/roughly 3,890 EUR (October 2023 level) plus pension.

Application

Applications should include the following parts in PDF format:

  1. Motivated letter of application stating the interest in and qualifications for the project (max. one page)
  2. CV incl. education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
  3. Certified copy of original Master of Science diploma and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in other language than English or Danish. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor is accepted. As a prerequisite for a PhD fellowship employment, your master’s degree must be equivalent to a Danish master’s degree. We encourage you to read more in the assessment database: https://ufm.dk/en/education/recognition-and-transparency/find-assessments/assessment-database. Please note that we might ask you to obtain an assessment of your education performed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science. Applicants with a Master´s degree from abroad should also enclose a short description of the grading scale used
  4. Possible publication list (if any)
  5. Max. 1 recommendation letter.
  6. Names, e-mails, telephone numbers and addresses of 1 or 2 other referees.

The parts must be clearly labeled with the above-mentioned numbers. Send your application with the above-mentioned appendices electronically by clicking the ´Apply now´ below. We only accept electronic applications.

Deadline for application is March 15st, 2024, at 11:59 PM CET. Applications received after the deadline, not using the online application form, or not including the required documents will not be considered.

Application procedure

After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorised recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the hiring committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an unbiased assessor. 

The assessor makes a non-prioritized assessment of the academic qualifications and experience with respect to the above-mentioned area of research, techniques, skills, and other requirements listed in the advertisement. Once the assessment work has been completed each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself.

The applicant will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 242 of 13 March 2012 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities. 

Interviews are expected to be held in April 2024. An answer as to the granting of the fellowship can be expected soon after the interviews.

You can read about the recruitment process at https://employment.ku.dk/faculty/recruitment-process/

Questions

For further information, please contact the principal supervisor Professor Vito Foderà (vito.fodera@sund.ku.dk, tel. +45 35336131) or PhD coordinator Marianne W. Jørgensen, e-mail: (marianne.joergensen@sund.ku.dk, phone: +45 3533 6449). 

General information about PhD studies at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences is available at the Graduate School’s website: https://healthsciences.ku.dk/phd/guidelines/.

For more information on working and living in Denmark visit http://ism.ku.dk (International staff mobility).

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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.

Info

Application deadline: 15-03-2024
Employment start: 01-07-2024
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Department of Pharmacy
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