PhD in functional genomics, antifungal discovery, synthetic biology (1.0 FTE)

Updated: 7 months ago
Deadline: 16 May 2022


The University of Groningen (UG) is a highly international and renowned centre of higher education located in the north of the Netherlands. Groningen is a vibrant and international student city (1 in 4 of the ~220k inhabitants is a student, and 1 in 4 students is international) located ~2 h northeast of Amsterdam. The UG ranks among the world’s top institutes, and PhD students are very well supported. English is ubiquitously spoken in the Netherlands, and the university provides free language courses.

The Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute (GBB), one of the larger institutes of the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE), provides an excellent environment for top-notch research in the field of biomolecular sciences. The GBB contains twelve vibrant Departments with strong roots in biochemistry, biophysical chemistry, cell biology, computational biology, genetics, microbiology, molecular biology, and systems biology.

Job description

The group of Dr. Sonja Billerbeck has an open position for a 4-year PhD project. In the Billerbeck lab, we use a combination of synthetic biology, genome engineering, protein engineering, and environmental microbiology to access, understand and engineer the functional diversity of nature’s yeast-based mycobiome for applications in human health, industrial biotechnology and to answer fundamental questions on yeast (pathogen) biology.

During this PhD project, we will develop and use a functional genomics approach in the human fungal pathogen Candida glabrata to elucidate the modes of action of a set of bio-mined antifungal proteins.
The project will entail molecular cloning, CRISPR/Cas technologies, Next-Generation Sequencing, and data analysis and leaves room for new creative technology developments.

The Billerbeck lab is embedded within the Department of Molecular Microbiology (MolMic) at the Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute (GBB). MolMic also encompassing the Labs of Profs. Arnold Driessen, Dirk-Jan Scheffers and Tessa Quax. MolMic is a group of ~ 30 enthusiastic microbiologists and together we study and engineer the functional diversity of microbes on a molecular level. We work with the whole microbial tree of life, from Archaea (Quax, Driessen), to Bacteria (Scheffers, Driessen), to yeast (Billerbeck, Driessen) and filamentous fungi (Driessen). Methodologically we use molecular biology and protein biochemistry, fluorescent microscopy, genetic and genome-engineering, next-generation sequencing, mass spectrometry, and other biophysical techniques.


The successful applicant has:

  • a master's degree in the field of molecular life sciences (e.g. molecular biology, biochemistry, biotechnology, etc.) or field-adjacent natural sciences (e.g. bioinformatics)
  • research experience in molecular biology, biochemistry, and/or bioinformatics
  • a creative, open and resilient mind and good English skills
  • excellent interpersonal skills combined with an ability to work efficiently both independently and in a team
  • keen interest in training BSc and MSc students as the project also involves a student-team research effort.

Candidates with experience in both, molecular biology and bioinformatics are preferred. All candidates should have experience or at least a keen interest in bioinformatics.

Conditions of employment

We offer you following the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

  • a salary of € 2,443 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,122 gross per month in the fourth and final year
  • a full-time position (1.0 FTE)
  • a holiday allowance of 8% of gross annual income
  • an 8.3% end-of-the-year allowance.

The successful candidates will first be offered a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years. Prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that successful completion of the PhD thesis within the next three years is to be expected. A PhD training program is part of the agreement and the successful candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School of Science and Engineering.

The starting date is July-September 2022.

More information on the conditions of employment:


For information you can contact:

Dr. Sonja Billerbeck,

(please do not use the email addresses above for applications)

Additional information
Research group of Dr. Sonja Billerbeck
The City of Groningen
Groningen Biomolecular Science and Biotechnology Institute
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