PhD Position in Structural and Computational Biology
University of Bern Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine

PhD Student Position in the Fields of Structural and Computational Biology

The Institute of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine (IBMM), University of Bern, Switzerland, invites applications for a PhD position (100%, 3-4 years) in the groups of Prof. Thomas Lemmin and Prof. Wanda Kukulski. The PhD candidate will develop their dissertation project within the fields of structural and computational biology.

The project

We are looking for a talented young researcher to work on an interdisciplinary project involving cryo electron tomography (cryo-ET), deep learning, and protein modeling. In the past decade, cryo-ET has revolutionized the study of biological machinery, allowing the direct visualization of macromolecular assemblies in their near-native state, inside cells. Cryo-ET offers exciting new opportunities for structural studies in situ and allows obtaining insights into the organization and structure of protein complexes that are fragile, transient, or form non-discrete assemblies. However, the computational tools to identify and characterize such structures in cryo-ET data sets have only started emerging.

This project will investigate protein assemblies involved in programmed cell death, an important pathway for removal of cells during development and for clearance of cancerous cells to maintain organism health. The project will include the development and implementation of deep learning models for the structural analysis of protein assemblies in cells imaged by cryo-ET.

The PhD Position

The doctoral student will join the groups of Wanda Kukulski and Thomas Lemmin and will work under their direct scientific supervision. The research will be carried out in both labs which are neighboring. The successful candidate will work in a rich and multidisciplinary scientific environment with access to state-of-the-art infrastructure.

The PhD candidate will contribute to the development of the IBMM research agenda. They will perform experimental work and collect data for their dissertation, while participating in a variety of other tasks related to their research area. Furthermore, the PhD candidate will work as teaching assistant in courses at either bachelor or master level, help in the preparation of teaching materials and in tutoring students. The PhD candidate will have the opportunity to present their work at scientific conferences and produce publications for scientific journals. They will also be able to participate in various career promoting workshops and network events.
Candidates' profile

You are a highly motivated individual capable of grasping and applying new concepts, working individually, and collaborating with multidisciplinary research teams.
• Master of Science (MSc) degree
• Interest in machine learning and/or computational biology. Proficiency in deep learning and molecular modeling are a plus.
• Interest in cellular cryo-ET. Experience in electron microscopy, related sample preparation, data acquisition and analysis are a plus.
• Good skills in oral and written English
• Ability to work independently and to plan and direct own work
• Motivation to engage in the elaboration of a PhD dissertation
• Ability to work in team and autonomy in scheduling research steps
• Interest for teaching and tutoring students and availability to interact with colleagues (engage in scientific dialogue, listen, and think critically)

The successful candidate will work as a research assistant at the IBMM and will have the possibility to interact with an international network of collaborators. The doctoral student will be enrolled in the Graduate School for Cellular and Biomedical Sciences (GCB), an international and structured PhD program (English) ensuring high education quality, a friendly feedback culture, as well as the guidance and mentorship of a personal thesis advisory committee.

Workplace is the University of Bern, located in the center of Bern, Switzerland. Bern is a beautiful city which offers an excellent quality of life, proximity to the mountains and a multitude of other opportunities for recreation.

The position will be kept open until a suitable candidate has been found.
The Application

Applications should contain: (1) a letter in which the applicant describes their research interests and their motivation to apply to this position, (2) a complete CV, (3) copies of relevant diplomas, certificates as well as the full transcript of records, (4) an electronic version of a research work (Master thesis or other scientific publication). The latter must be accompanied by a short summary in English (1 page maximum). Alternatively, a support letter written by the Master thesis supervisor (or another Professor who knows the candidate well) is equally welcome. (5) Letters or contact information of 2 – 3 references.

Please send your application in electronic form or requests for further information to Successful applicants will be invited to meet and discuss with both groups.

As an institute that values diversity, we particularly encourage applications from women and from all individuals from underrepresented groups.

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