PhD fellowship in pharmaceutical sciences at Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology

Updated: 4 months ago
Deadline: 10 Oct 2022

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
University of Copenhagen

We are offering a three-year PhD fellowship in pharmaceutical sciences commencing 1 December 2022 or as soon as possible hereafter.

Project description
Neurological disorders constitute the third leading cause of premature mortality in Europe, and represent one of the greatest therapeutic challenges of our time. They are in part related to dysfunctions or imbalances in the signalling and regulatory processes mediated by the two key neuromodulators, glycine and glutamine. We aim to reveal the molecular details of glycine and glutamine transport by their respective solute carrier (SLC) transporters, as well as the molecular basis for ligand-mediated and autoregulatory modulation of the targets. The applicant will use a multidisciplinary approach including structural studies by cryo-electron microscopy and X-ray crystallography, and a range of biophysical and biochemical methods.

Professor Michael Gajhede, Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology
Assistant Professor Azadeh Shahsavar, Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology
E-mail: .

1 December 2022

3 years as a PhD student

Our group and research
The Shahsavar Lab (aka ASH-Lab) is a newly established research group at the University of Copenhagen, led by Assistant Prof. Azadeh Shahsavar. The lab studies human membrane proteins involved in transport of amino acids, charactering their structure, function and mechanism of regulation. The research will open new lines of possibility for tuning synaptic signalling through manoeuvring amino acid transporters, delineating their therapeutic potential.

The lab uses mammalian expression systems to recombinantly express the target proteins and employs serial synchrotron crystallography (SSX) and single-particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) combined with biochemical and biophysical methods for structural and functional characterizations.

The funds supporting the ASH-Lab are provided by Lundbeck Foundation.

Our department
The Department of Drug Design and Pharmacology ( delivers drug-related research and research-based teaching within a wide range of drug-related disciplines, spanning the molecular, cellular, and pharmacological levels.

Job description
Your key tasks as a PhD student at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences are:

  • Carrying through an independent research project under supervision
  • Completing PhD courses or other equivalent education corresponding to approximately 30 ECTS points
  • Participating in active research environments including a stay at another research team, preferably abroad
  • Obtaining experience with teaching or other types of dissemination related to your PhD project
  • Teaching of undergraduate students in pharmaceutical sciences
  • Writing a PhD thesis on the grounds of your project

Key criteria for the assessment of applicants
Applicants must have qualifications corresponding to a master’s degree related to the subject area of the project, e.g., protein biochemistry or related area. Please note that your master’s degree must be equivalent to a Danish master’s degree (two years).

Other important criteria are:
We expect you to be a highly motivated and ambitious scientist with the following qualifications:

  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project including: 
  • Experience in protein expression and purification techniques for structural and functional studies.
  • Experience in cryo-EM sample preparation and/or protein crystallization, data collection and analysis, including the use of relevant software.
  • Adapt existing and develop new scientific techniques and experimental protocols for analysis of membrane protein function, including cell-based and liposome-based techniques. 
  • Other relevant work experience
  • Previous publications
  • The grade point average achieved
  • Other professional activities
  • A curious mind-set with a strong interest in understanding the molecular mechanisms of proteins function 
  • Proven ability to design, execute and analyse data from structural /biochemical/ biophysical experiments.
  • A high degree of personal responsibility and willingness to engage in problem-solving  
  • Language skills 
  • Proven communication and interpersonal skills, including the ability to write for publication, and present research proposals and results.

Terms of employment
The position is a fixed-term position limited to a period of 3 years and will be commencing 1 December 2022 or as soon as possible hereafter. The average weekly working hours are 37 hours per week.

The employment is conditioned upon the applicant’s successful enrolment as a PhD student at the Graduate School at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project to the Graduate School of Health and Medical Sciences.

The PhD study must be completed in accordance with The Ministerial Order on the PhD programme (2013) and the Faculty’s rules on achieving the degree.

The PhD student is expected to be affiliated to the graduate programme in pharmaceutical sciences, Drug Research Academy .

Salary, pension, and terms of employment are in accordance with the agreement between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. Depending on seniority, the monthly salary starts at approximately 28,400 DKK/roughly 3,890 EUR (October 2022 level) plus pension.

Application procedure
Your application, in English, must be submitted electronically by clicking “Apply now” below and must include the following documents in PDF format:

  • Motivated letter of application (max. one page)
  • CV incl. education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
  • Certified copy of original Master of Science diploma and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in other language than English or Danish. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor is accepted.
    As a prerequisite for a PhD fellowship employment, your master’s degree must be equivalent to a Danish master’s degree. We encourage you to read more in the assessment database: . Please note that we might ask you to obtain an assessment of your education performed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science.
    Applicants with a Master´s degree from abroad should also enclose a short description of the grading scale used
  • Publication list (if possible)
  • Other information to consider: References and recommendations (if possible)
  • The deadline for applications is 10 October 2022, 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.

    The further process
    After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorised 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.

    Interviews are expected to be held in week 44.

    You can read about the recruitment process at .

    For further information, applicants may contact the supervisor Azadeh Shahsavar, e-mail:, or PhD coordinator Marianne W. Jørgensen, e-mail: , direct phone: +45 3533 6449.

    General information about PhD studies at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences is available at the Graduate School’s website: .

    For more information on working and living in Denmark visit (International staff mobility) and .

    The University of Copenhagen wish to reflect the diversity of society and encourage all qualified candidates to apply regardless of personal background.

    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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