3-year PhD position in stem cell-based modelling of schizophrenia

Updated: 3 months ago
Deadline: 24 Oct 2021

3-year PhD position in stem cell-based modelling of schizophrenia

Department of Neuroscience,
Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
University of Copenhagen

Position:                             3-year PhD student position

Start:                                  17/1-2022

Application deadline:        24 October 2021, 23.59pm CET

The Department of Neuroscience at University of Copenhagen is looking for a PhD student to join the Human Neural Development group led by PI Agnete Kirkeby. The position is scheduled to commence on the 17th of January 2022 or on a nearby alternative date upon agreement with the chosen candidate. The position as Postdoc is for 4 years.

Research group
The Human Neural Development research team is located at the Department of Neuroscience at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences of University of Copenhagen. Our group works to develop stem cell transplantation therapies for brain disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, dementia and narcolepsy by producing high-purity cultures of subtype-specific human neural cells in the lab and testing these in animal models of disease. We further apply advanced stem cell technologies to study normally inaccessible stages of human brain development as well as to produce models of human brain diseases in the dish (i.e. Parkinson’s Disease, Schizophrenia and hypothalamic disorders).

We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in a dynamic and highly international research environment. Our team currently consists of 14 team members at University of Copenhagen + 4 team members in our sister group at Lund University, coming from 8 different nationalities. Our research facilities at University of Copenhagen are located in a new and modern research building from 2018, and include state-of-the-art laboratories, pleasant office facilities and access to high-quality core facilities in transcriptomics, imaging, flow cytometry and proteomics.

To read more about the team:



Job description
We are seeking a highly motivated and ambitious PhD student candidate with a strong educational background in the field of biotechnology, biomedicine, biology or medicine and a PhD within the field of stem cell biology and/or schizophrenia research. The candidate will enter into a consortium research project aiming to study key protein networks involved in schizophrenia pathology through the use of complex human stem cell models of excitatory and inhibitory neurons. The candidate will during the project collaborate with other partners in the research consortium, including Prof. Kasper Lage of the Broad Institute and Prof. Thomas Werge from the Sct Hans Hospital of Mental Health. More information on the research consortium can be found here . The candidate will apply patient-derived iPSCs, CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing and complex neural culturing techniques to uncover how mutations in central GWAS-identified protein networks impact on neuronal function. The purpose of this work is to understand the link between gene mutations found in GWAS studies of schizophrenia patients and their mechanistic correlation to neuronal function and disease pathology.

Your key tasks are:

  • Performance of an independent research project under supervision. Responsibility for daily supervision of master students will be possible.
  • Participation in an active and ambitious research environment with a high degree of collaborative interactions between team members

The technologies you will apply are:

  • Culturing and subtype-specific neural differentiation of hiPSCs and hESCs
  • CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing in hiPSCs and hESCs to target key schizophrenia
  • Assessment of neuronal subtypes in the dish through qRT-PCR and immunocytochemistry
  • Assessment of neuronal function and connectivity through complex mixed neuronal cultures and micro-electrode array technology
  • Performing single cell RNA sequencing (10X platform) and working with bioinformaticians on analysing the data

Key criteria for the assessment of applicants
The following requirements for the candidate will be assessed as key criteria for the recruitment.

Mandatory requirements:

  • Master’s degree related to the subject area of the project e.g. Biomedicine, Biotechnology, Human Biology, Biology or similar
  • Fluency in English, written and spoken.

Positively assessed criteria:

  • Prior experience in pluripotent cell culturing and neural differentiation.
  • Prior experience in working with neuronal cell cultures and/or brain tissues
  • Prior experience  in performing gene editing
  • Prior experience in qRT-PCR, ICC and confocal imaging
  • Prior experience in working with assessment of neuronal connectivity, synapse formation and neuronal function
  • Works well in teams and collaborative projects
  • Well-organized, self-motivated, result-oriented and capable of working independently
  • Positive reviews from previous supervisors, collaborators or mentors

Terms of salary, work, and employment
The successful candidate will be offered a full-time position for a total of 3 years as a PhD student. Salary and other terms and conditions of appointment are set in accordance with the Agreement between the Ministry of Finance and AC (Danish Confederation of Professional Associations) or other relevant professional organization. Depending on seniority, the monthly salary begins around 27,871 DKK /approx. 3,747 EUR (October 2021-level). In addition to the basic salary, a monthly contribution to a pension fund is added (17.1% of the salary).

The position is covered by the “Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff at the Universities” of June 28, 2013.

Application procedure
Your application must be submitted electronically by clicking ‘Apply now’ below. The application must include the following documents in PDF format: 

  • Motivated letter of application (max. one page)
  • CV incl. education, experience from previous research projects, previous employments, technical skills, language skills and other skills relevant for the position + contact information of two references.
  • Master of Science diploma and transcript of records.
  • Publication list
  • Contact information
    For questions about the project and group, please contact the principal supervisor:
    Associate Professor Agnete Kirkeby, Department of Neuroscience, e-mail: agnete.kirkeby@sund.ku.dk phone: +45 5168 5353

    Application deadline:  24 October 2021, 23.59pm CET

    We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

    Assessment procedure
    After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized 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.

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

    The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences comprises approximately 7500 students, 1500 PhD students and 3200 employees. The Faculty advances the field of health sciences through its core activities: research, teaching, knowledge sharing and communication. With basic research fields ranging from molecular studies to studies of society, the Faculty contributes to a healthy future through its graduates, research findings and inventions benefitting patients and the community. The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all regardless of personal background to apply for the position. www.ku.dk

    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.

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