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PhD position to study regulation and transport of a novel anti-diabetic plant derived metabolite

Vacancy number
Job type
PhD positions
Hours (in fte)
External/ internal
Placed on
14 December 2021
Closing date
31 January 2022 Vacancy closed

The Faculty of Science / the Institute for Biology is looking for a

PhD Candidate in Plant Molecular Biochemistry

Vacancy number 21-520

Key responsibilities

The chemical diversity of plants, which produce hundreds of thousands of specialized metabolites (i.e. natural products), has been a rich resource for medicine and other valuable compounds. Understanding the biosynthesis of important specialized metabolites on a molecular level enables us to advance the engineering of high-value bioproducts and improve cultivated plant systems.

The plant metabolite montbretin A (MbA) is being developed as a novel therapeutic for diabetes and obesity. To overcome the MbA supply issues, this PhD projects aims at understanding MbA regulation and transport in the native plant and aims to use this knowledge in a synthetic biology approach towards improvement of engineered heterologous MbA production systems.

Your key responsibilities include:

  • Plan and conduct research activities
  • Present your work and take part in research discussions, write thesis and manuscripts
  • Co-supervise students and contribute to lab organisation

Selection Criteria

You are the right candidate if:

  • You have a master’s degree in biology, biochemistry or related disciplines.
  • You are trained in biochemistry and molecular biology and have experience and good experimental skills in molecular and analytical techniques.
  • You possess a strong curiosity with an interest in plant sciences.
  • You are highly motivated to obtain a PhD degree and understand the commitment
  • You are an enthusiastic person who is keen on gaining new knowledge and learning new technics, enjoys doing science and who is not afraid of a challenge and can be resilient and tolerate stress.
  • You have good organisation and time management skills.
  • You are capable to structure your work and work independently as well as under supervision and within a research team.
  • You are confident in the use of commonly used computer software.
  • You have good English skills (spoken and written).         
  • Knowledge and experience with plant specialized metabolism, transporter studies, protein biochemistry, transcriptomics, bioinformatics, microscopy and yeast metabolic engineering are an advantage.

Research at our faculty

The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are committed to expand fundamental knowledge by curiosity and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future.

The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organised in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programmes. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2300 staff and almost 5000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.

For more information, see here and here.

The Institute for Biology

The research within the Institute of Biology Leiden (IBL) aims to work on the science base of biodiversity and health, which is reflected in our leading principle Harnessing Biodiversity for Health. We perform innovative curiosity-driven research to answer fundamental questions, and solutions-driven research to help solving major societal challenges. The latter include protecting nature’s biodiversity, creating sustainable biotechnology and agriculture and increasing good health. Our research focuses on four Research Themes: Bioactive Molecules, Host-Microbe Interactions, Development & Disease and Evolution & Biodiversity. Located in a thriving scientific environment with our Faculty of Sciences,  Naturalis Biodiversity Centre, the Leiden University Medical Centre and the Leiden Bioscience Park, IBL offers an exciting, internationally oriented and inclusive place to work and study.  

Terms and conditions 

We offer a full-time 1 year term position for initially one year. The starting date is flexible and can be as early as March 2022. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the thesis, personal capabilities and compatibility the appointment will be extended by a further three years. Salary range from 2.434 to 3.111 gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

All our PhD students are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Science . Our graduate school offers several PhD training courses at three levels: professional courses, skills training and personal effectiveness. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the research school.


Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.


Enquiries can be made to Dr. Sandra Irmisch (s.irmisch@biology.leidenuniv.nl). If you have any questions about the procedure, please contact Sylvia Maas (jobs@biology.leidenuniv.nl).


To apply for this vacancy, please send an email to jobs@biology.leidenuniv.nl. Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents (combined in a single pdf file) quoting the vacancy number:

  • A letter of motivation including research interests (max. 2 pages)
  • Curriculum vitae, including publication list highlighting your contributions
  • Relevant certificates (e.g. degree certificate);
  • Detailed transcripts from previous education programmes (bachelor and master studies);
  • Two letters of reference (including contact details of referees)  

Only applications received before January 31th, 2022  can be considered.

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