PhD fellowship in structural biology and pharmacology

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: 16 Oct 2022

PhD fellowship in structural biology and pharmacology

PhD Project in the Autzen Lab

Department of Biology

Faculty of SCIENCE

University of Copenhagen

The Autzen Lab is inviting applications for a three-year PhD fellowship in membrane protein biochemistry, pharmacology, and structural biology in the Section for Biomolecular Sciences, at the Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, Denmark. The fellowship is part of the Project “A spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down” funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

The start date is February 1st, 2023, or as soon as possible thereafter.

We are looking for a candidate with a background in structural biology, biophysics, molecular biology, biochemistry, molecular biomedicine, cell biology or neuroscience.

Our sensation of taste influences our dietary choices and alert us about harmful foods, but the underlying molecular mechanisms of taste are poorly understood. This project aims at advancing our understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying taste perception by studying the structure, dynamics, and function of membrane-bound taste receptors. The PhD candidate will apply single particle cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) in combination with biochemical, pharmacological, and cellular assays to characterize taste receptors. The outcome of the project will yield unprecedented molecular insight into taste perception and delineate the therapeutic and diagnostic potential of an entire family of proteins.

The PhD candidate will join the Autzen Lab , a young research group in the Section for Biomolecular Sciences (BMS), at the Department of Biology. Home to 11 labs specializing in cellular and protein biology, protein design or structural biology, BMS is an international and interdisciplinary workplace, offering a vibrant, creative, and stimulating research environment. Read more about BMS here:

The Autzen Lab is focused on characterizing the activation and modulation of eukaryotic membrane proteins involved in selected, cellular pathways to elucidate their basic function and therapeutic potential. The lab is also developing tools for detergent-free membrane protein purification to conserve native protein-lipid interactions. The lab houses state-of-the-art equipment for large-scale mammalian protein production, and purification, biochemical and biophysical characterizations, and data processing and is a core-user of the state-of-the-art cryo-EM facilities at the Core Facility for Integrated Microscopy on campus.

The Autzen Lab is built on community, trust, openness, honesty, and solidarity and strives to embody the scientific method, objectivity, and reproducibility. We value open science, knowledge and data sharing and science communication to a wider audience, ultimately bridging the gap between society and research. Read more about the Autzen Lab and our core values on our website: .

We offer you

  • An exciting and stimulating research project set in a creative, scientifically strong, and international academic environment.
  • An open and inclusive work and research environment with dedicated colleagues.
  • Room for personal and professional development.

Principal supervisor is Associate Professor Henriette E. Autzen, Department of Biology, henriette.autzen ( at )

The PhD program consists of three years of full time study , and require you to have completed a degree program, equivalent to a Danish master’s degree (180 ECTS/3 FTE BSc + 120 ECTS/2 FTE MSc) related to the subject area of the project, e.g. in biophysics, biology, molecular biology, biochemistry, molecular biomedicine, cell biology, neuroscience or similar. For information of eligibility of completed programmes, see General assessments for specific countries and Assessment database .

  • Employment as PhD fellow is full time and for maximum 3 years.
  • The employment is conditioned upon the applicant’s successful enrolment as a PhD student at the PhD School of SCIENCE , University of Copenhagen, which requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project.
  • Terms of appointment and payment accord to the agreement between the Danish Ministry of Taxation and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. The position is covered by the Protocol on Job Structure.

Your key tasks as a PhD student at the Faculty of SCIENCE are to:

  • Actively manage and carry out an independent research project under supervision.
  • Attend, and complete PhD courses or other equivalent education corresponding to approximately 30 ECTS points.
  • Actively participate in research environments including at an external research institution, preferably abroad.
  • Disseminate your research through scientific manuscripts aimed at high-impact journals and presentations at national or international meetings.
  • Teach undergraduate or graduate students in the Autzen lab and in courses offered by the Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen.
  • Conclude your PhD studies by writing and defending your PhD thesis.

Key criteria for the assessment of applicants are:

  • Qualifications corresponding to a Danish MSc degree with good results.
  • Completed courses or research experience in protein structure and function, biochemistry, physical chemistry, pharmacology, and/or biophysics.
  • Demonstrated ability to quickly grasp and employ new methods and tools.
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English.

As criteria for the assessment of your qualifications, emphasis will also be laid on publications, and relevant work or research experiences.

We are looking for a candidate with the following qualifications:

  • Recombinant DNA techniques and cloning.
  • Protein expression and purification for structural and functional studies.
  • Mammalian cell culture techniques.
  • Cryo-EM sample preparation and/or protein crystallization, data collection and analysis, including the use of relevant software.
  • Carrying out pharmacological assays (ex vivo, in vivo, or in vitro) and analysis of associated data.
  • Working with Linux operating systems.
  • Basic programming (MatLab and/or Python).
  • Data management and reporting.
  • High level of motivation, responsibility, and ability to work in a structured manner.
  • An ability to work independently and as part of a team.
  • A curious mind-set with a strong interest in understanding the molecular mechanisms of proteins.

Your application must be written in English and submitted electronically by clicking the ‘APPLY NOW’ below. The application must include the following documents in PDF format:

  • Motivated letter of application (max. one page).
  • Curriculum vitae incl. your education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position (max. two pages).
  • Original diplomas for Bachelor of Science or Master of Science and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in another 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.
  • Publication list (if applicable).
  • Reference letters (if available)
  • Application deadline

    The deadline for applications is the 16th of October, 2022 23:59 GMT+2.

    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.

    After deadline, a number of applicants will be selected for academic assessment by an unbiased expert assessor. You are notified, whether you will be passed for assessment.

    The assessor will assess the qualifications and experience of the shortlisted applicants with respect to the above-mentioned research area, techniques, skills and other requirements. The assessor will conclude whether each applicant is qualified and, if so, for which of the two models. The assessed applicants will have the opportunity to comment on their assessment. You can read about the recruitment process here .

    Interviews are expected to be held in week 46 and 47.

    For further information, applicants may contact the supervisor Associate Professor Henriette E. Autzen, email: henriette.autzen ( at )

    General information about PhD study at the Faculty of SCIENCE is available at the PhD School’s website here .

    Despite cold and rainy days in plenty, Denmark is among the happiest according to the World Happiness Report and Copenhagen is regularly ranked among top 5 cities to live in, particularly for expats. Whether you are into ancient sculptures or contemporary art, opera or heavy metal Copenhagen is ready to teach, inspire and entertain. Furthermore, with an extensive public transportation system, beautiful, tranquil nature is only minutes away from the city center.

    For more information on working and living in Denmark, visit University of Copenhagen’s website on International Staff Mobility and WorkinDenmark .

    The university offers an inspiring research and teaching environment to its 37,000 students, and its 10,000 employees. University of Copenhagen is an international work and study environment commemorating democracy, openness, and equal opportunities. The University is an inclusive workplace that wishes to attract the most talented students and staff regardless of personal background. The University is keen to create a tolerant culture where everyone is treated equally, and where diversity is a strength, not a challenge. Read more about the university’s action plan for equality and diversity here:

    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.

    View or Apply

    Similar Positions