Universiteit Leiden

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PhD in the field of single molecule biophysics

Wetenschappelijke functies, PhD-posities
Omvang (fte)
Geplaatst op
20 juli 2021
30 september 2021 Nog 8 dagen om te solliciteren

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The Faculty of Science, the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR) and the Leiden Institute of Physics (LION) are looking for a

PhD in the field of single molecule biophysics

Key responsibilities
The PhD student will design and perform experiments and modeling to understand folding and assembly of nuclear hormone receptors (NHRs). NHRs are proteins with an intrinsically disordered N-terminal domains and regulate targets genes in a hormone dependent manner. These proteins are highly dynamic and reside in both cytoplasm and the nucleus. They are involved in various cancers and endocrine disorders. Drugging these receptors is a major challenge, due to their spatial distribution, conformational heterogeneity, and phase separation. In this project, we will combine various single molecule force methods and single molecule imaging to address this challenge at various level of complexities from single isolated receptor to the receptor within the target chromatin. The student will be affiliated to Alireza Mashaghi lab at LACDR and John van Noort lab at LION, and will be co-supervised by the respective PIs in this collaborative project.

The responsibilities of the position include:

  • Design and perform experiments and data analysis;
  • Write high quality scientific manuscripts;
  • Present results to team members and other associated partners;
  • Contribute to our education program;
  • Train BSc, MSc and junior PhD students and supervise their research;
  • Contribute to grant writing activities.

Selection criteria
The ideal candidate should fulfill (most of) the following criteria:

  • An academic degree (MSc) in science with excellent records in Physics, Biophysics (experimental and/or theoretical) or Engineering with experience related to the life sciences;
  • Experience with molecular modeling, force spectroscopy, or imaging would be a plus;
  • Experience with working in an international environment;
  • Good written and verbal English communication skills;
  • Strong organizational skills with the ability to successfully work and get things done in teams.

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. For more information, see the website of the
 Faculty of Science.

The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is diverse, ranging from artificial intelligence, computer science, mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2,300 staff and almost 5,000 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 Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR) is a leading institute dedicated to world-class research and education in drug discovery and development. LACDR comprises a diverse and international team of approximately 150 researchers and is ideally located at the Leiden Bio Science Park, the largest life science cluster in The Netherlands. The Mashaghi lab (Medical Systems Biophysics and Bioengineering Group) is involved in interdisciplinary research at the interface of physics, engineering and biomedicine. The lab is equipped with various force methods, including a dual trap optical tweezers, and computing facility for innovative molecular topology modeling, which enable studying folding dynamics of complex proteins in isolation or within a condensate environment. For more information, see the website.

The Leiden Institute of Physics (LION) is a leading institute dedicated to world-class research and education in physics. The van Noort lab is embedded within the Physics of Life section and has an established track record in chromatin biophysics. We combine instrumentation development with statistical physic modelling, and have the ambition to develop a mechanistic understanding of gene regulation. The lab is equipped with magnetic tweezers, fluorescence correlation spectroscopy and 2 photon structured light sheet microscopy, which enable studying receptor protein binding to target DNA within chromatin in vitro and in vivo.

Leiden University is one of Europe's foremost research universities. Leiden is a lively and beautiful city with a central location in Europe, at only 17 minutes from Schiphol International Airport. It is a very international city where almost everybody speaks English, candidates need not be afraid of the language barrier. Leiden is a typical historic university city, hosting the oldest university in the Netherlands (1575). The University permeates the local surroundings; University premises are scattered throughout the city, and the students who live and study in Leiden give the city its relaxed yet vibrant atmosphere. Today, with some 27,000 students, 5,500 staff, 16 Nobel prizes, more than 100 nationalities and a budget of more than 550 million Euros, it is one of the largest comprehensive universities in Europe. This prominent position gives our graduates a leading edge in applying for academic posts and for functions outside academia.

Terms and conditions 
We offer a 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 ranges from  €2,395.- to € 3,061.- 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.

The appointment should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). A training & supervision plan will be drafted, including attendance of courses and (international) meetings. The PhD-student is also expected to assist in teaching undergraduates.

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.

Diversity and work-life balance
Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups. LACDR is a highly diverse institute, in culture, background, and gender. We stand for excellence in a caring Institute. We wish to reflect society in all aspects, as we believe that this improves the dynamics in our organization. Therefore, we support and understand the need for a work/life/family balance and consequent varying working hours and places. We believe that doing good science is fun, and goes hand in hand with a friendly culture. In the Netherlands, a maternity allowance is standard for 16 weeks. Child care is available at and near the Bio Science Park.

Please feel free to contact Alireza Mashaghi, email a.mashaghi.tabari@lacdr.leidenuniv.nl or John van Noort, email Noort@Physics.LeidenUniv.nl.

To apply for this vacancy, please send an email to Alireza Mashaghi and John van Noort; at info-abs@lacdr.leidenuniv.nl. Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents quoting the vacancy number:

  • A cover letter explaining your motivation, background, and qualifications for the position;
  • A detailed CV (including a list of publications);
  • Contact information of two references;
  • Copies of diplomas and a list of your courses taken and grades obtained.

Only applications received no later than September 30, 2021 can be considered.

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