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PhD candidate: Epitope mapping of Pseudomonas aeruginosa surface polysaccharides

Wetenschappelijke functies, PhD-posities
Omvang (fte)
Geplaatst op
10 maart 2020
30 april 2020

Nog 22 dagen om te solliciteren

The Faculty of Science and the Leiden Institute of Chemistry are looking for a

PhD candidate: Epitope mapping of Pseudomonas aeruginosa surface polysaccharides

Project description
This PhD position is part of the EU-funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) ‘PAVax - A training network for the design of new synthetic carbohydrate-based vaccines to combat antibiotic resistant Pseudomonas aeruginosa and Staphylococcus aureus’. PAVax is an innovative, doctoral training network that aims at the education of a new generation of glycoscientists able to provide key findings for the design of new carbohydrate-based vaccines for the prevention of PA and SA infection.

Aim of PAVax is to explore and exploit the use of PA and SA-oligosaccharides to generate novel vaccines targeting these exposed polysaccharides. Next to the isolation of these polysaccharides from the bacteria, synthetic chemistry will be employed to deliver well-defined fragments of these polysaccharides. These will be used to map the interactions of the saccharides with antibodies to inform on the structure of the optimal epitope. Conjugation of the (synthetic) fragments to carrier proteins will lead to the generation of conjugate vaccines.

The doctoral project will focus on the development of synthesis techniques to generate well-defined fragments of complex P. aeruginosa exopolysaccharides. The generated library of structures will be used for antibody binding studies and the generation of model vaccine entities.

The selected PhD candidate will experience an intersectorial, international and interdisciplinary training encompassing at least 18 months at the academic partner Leiden University (NL) and 18 months at the industrial partner GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines (GSKVACSRL), based in Siena (IT). The close collaboration between the two partners will ensure training of the students at the highest level and with the best synergy possible in the fields of (synthetic) carbohydrate chemistry, vaccine design, protein chemistry and conjugation, biophysical interaction studies, and immunology. In addition, all PhD students will participate in a series of scientific, technical and complementary skills training events. The positions will allow all students to participate in an exciting research and training programme, enhancing their career perspectives in both the academic and industrial sector.

Selection criteria

  • Master’s degree in Chemistry;
  • Good knowledge and interest in both organic chemistry and biochemistry;
  • Proven competence in Synthetic Organic Chemistry and Chemical Biology;
  • Knowledge of  Synthetic Carbohydrate Chemistry is a plus;
  • Excellent communication skills in English (both in speaking and writing) is required; a recognized international certificate in English (TOEFL, TOEIC, etc) is a plus;
  • Ability to work independently in a multidisciplinary environment;
  • Meeting the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Early Stage Researcher eligibility criteria is required. In particular, at the time of appointment candidates must have a Master degree and had less than four years full-time equivalent research experience and must not have already obtained a PhD Additionally, they must not have resided in The Netherlands for more than 12 months in the three years immediately before the appointment;
  • Planned start date June 2020.

Our organisation
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 is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organized in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programs. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2,200 staff and almost 4,200 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.

The chemistry and life science research in the Leiden Institute of Chemistry (LIC) is organized around two major research areas: ‘Chemical Biology’ and ‘Energy & Sustainability’. The institute’s research themes illustrate the central position of chemistry between biology, medicine and physics. The various research topics carried out within these themes are ideal for executing interdisciplinary research.

Terms and conditions
We offer a full-time position for initially one year. 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 2.325,- to 2.972,- 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.

Mobility and family allowances as applicable according to Marie Skłodowska-Curie PhD fellowship scheme for early career researchers. After 18 months at Leiden University the PhD fellow will switch the working location and will work for 18 months at the industrial consortium partner GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines (GSKVACSRL), based in Siena, Italy.

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. The PhD candidate will benefit from a personal career development plan with targeted training measures and participation in a range of network activities with the other PAVax consortium partner GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines.

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

Enquiries can be made to Jeroen Codée, email jcodee@chem.leidenuniv.nl. If you have any questions about the procedure, please contact Jessica van Krimpen, email j.e.van.krimpen@lic.leidenuniv.nl, telephone +31 (0)71 527 5782.

To apply for this vacancy, please send no later than April 30, 2020 an email to the secretary of the ‘Bio-organic Synthesis’, Jessica van Krimpen j.e.van.krimpen@lic.leidenuniv.nlPlease ensure that you join to your application the vacancy number and the following additional documents:

  • A letter of motivation;
  • An updated CV of at most 3 pages, including a well-defined publication list; the CV must be without gaps, in order to easily check the mobility and experience requirements. CVs that either do not clearly show the applicant’s past experience, or have gaps, will be considered ineligible.
  • Copy of master’s thesis or any other publications (if available);
  • The transcripts of your MSc studies and copy of your degree;
  • Two written letters of recommendation by former supervisors.

Applications must be in English and will be evaluated against the following criteria:

  • Educational record;
  • Scientific quality of the applicant’s CV;
  • Expected individual impact and benefit to the fellow and to the project;
  • Previous experience in the subject of PAVax research programme;

The candidates will be evaluated on the basis of the received documents and the best 2-3 candidates for each position will be invited for a F2F / Skype interview that will take place in May 2020.

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