PhD positions available at reNEW Copenhagen Node

Updated: 2 months ago
Deadline: 01 Dec 2022

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Medicine (reNEW) at Faculty of Health & Medical Science at the University of Copenhagen is looking for research assistant/PhD students to join the Brickman group starting February 2022 or upon agreement. These positions will each explore one of two proposed projects, both exploiting their recent findings with respect to the nature of enhancer regulation. These projects can be approached both experimentally and computationally, and applications are encouraged from individuals with both wet and/or dry skills in Molecular Biology. The first project focuses on early human embryo development, characterizing gene regulatory networks and developing new in vitro model system for preimplantation development.  The second uses enhancer regulation in ventral foregut stem cells (VFGs) to enhance liver and pancreatic differentiation. Both projects will exploit stem cell-based three-dimensional culture models and aim to improve the production of physiological cell types for translational applications.

Our research
The Brickman group is interested in the transcriptional basis for cell fate choice, exploring both fundamental mechanisms of transcriptional regulation by signalling and how gene regulatory networks define cell potency and fate in development and differentiation.  We recently found that transcriptional exit from pluripotency was achieved independently of transcription factor (TF) binding to enhancers, but that TF was required both to guide differentiation and safeguard plasticity (Hamilton et al., Nature 2019). We have observed a similar form TF mediated enhancer priming during the expansion of human VFGs derived from pluripotent cells (Wong et al. BioXiv 2022).  In these projects we seek to exploit these findings to improve in vitro embryo models and differentiation. 

Job description
We are looking for individuals interested in focusing on enhancer networks in early human development and human organ specific differentiation.  As a PhD student in the Brickman group, you will be working in the field of stem cell and developmental biology. You will be part of an international interdisciplinary team of scientists focusing on understanding the transcriptional basis for development and exploiting this to develop new technologies for cell type specification in culture. We employ both mouse and human model systems in vitro and in vivo, where the advertised positions will focus on the use of three-dimensional synthetic models for human development.Specifically, the first project will focus on human hypoblast and stem cell-based embryo models and the second, VFGs as a model for the more effective differentiation of pluripotent stem cells to hepatic and pancreatic organoids. The positions will use a combination of cell culture, molecular biology, microscopy and next generation sequencing (NGS) technologies. There are also opportunities to explore both projects computationally.

Also your key tasks as a PhD student at SUND 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.
  • Obtaining experience with teaching or other types of dissemination related to your PhD project
  • Teaching and disseminating your knowledge.
  • Writing a PhD thesis on the grounds of your project

Responsibilities – projects will involve a combination of some, but not all of following tasks

  • To test the impact new drugs and medias on synthetic embryo/organ development.
  • Develop new approaches to in vitro culture.
  • To collect NGS data and multiomics on synthetic embryo/organ systems.
  • To generate improved human blastoids or enhanced organoid cultures for liver and pancreas.
  • To analyze NGS data and develop new pipelines for bioinformatic analysis.

Qualifications (some but not all)

  • An equivalent of an MSc degree in Developmental, Stem Cell, Molecular Biology or Bioinformatics.
  • Experience with cell culture, where experience with stem cell culture would be an advantage.  
  • Experience with NGS technologies, such as ChIP-seq, CUT&TAG, CAGE-seq etc. (for postdoctoral researcher positions) and/or bioinformatics skills.
  • Skills in routine molecular biology, including cloning, Western blots, RT-qPCR etc.
  • English communication skills, both oral and written are a must.

We offer

  • A stimulating research environment and collaborative work with the Niels Bohr Institute and Hvidovre Hospital.
  • Usage of state-of-the-art technologies for stem cell research.
  • Possibilities for continued education and training.

Terms of salary, work, and employment
These positions consist of a one-year Research Assistant position leading to a three-year PhD position.

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.

Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with the agree­ment between the Ministry of Taxation and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. Depending on seniority, the monthly salary starts at approximately 27,800 DKK/Roughly 3,700 EUR (October 2021 level) plus pension.

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

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, 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
  • Publication list (if possible)
  • Application deadline:
    The deadline for applications is 1 December 2022.
    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.

    For further information contact Professor Joshua Brickman

    The further process
    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.

    You find information about the recruitment process at:

    The applicants will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 242 of 13 March 2012 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities.

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    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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