PhD position in Electron Microscopy/Membrane Enzymology

Updated: 7 months ago
Deadline: 03 Jul 2019


Founded in 1614, the University of Groningen enjoys an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative centre of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Flexible study programmes and academic career opportunities in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 31,000 students and researchers alike to develop their own individual talents. As one of the best research universities in Europe, the University of Groningen has joined forces with other top universities and networks worldwide to become a truly global centre of knowledge.

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. Twelve vibrant research groups with strong roots in biochemistry, biophysical chemistry, cell biology, computational biology, genetics, microbiology, molecular biology, and systems biology are organized in two focal areas: ‘Molecular Mechanisms of Biological Processes’ and ‘Physiology and Systems Biology’.

Job description

We are looking for a talented and enthusiastic biologist, chemist, biochemist or physicist who is interested in studying the structure-function relationship of membrane transporters. Membrane proteins compromise more than 60% of today’s pharmaceutical drug targets. In our group, we employ mostly single-particle cryo-EM, which we complement with the biochemical characterization of the target protein to unravel its mechanism of action. Many of our targets have a direct pharmacological relevance and our results might guide structure-based drug design.

You will be working at the Electron Microscopy group led by Dr Cristina Paulino, which is part the GBB Departments of Structural Biology and Biochemistry. We are equipped with an in-house Talos Arctica (auto-loader, K2, energy filter and phase plate), which allows us to obtain high-resolution data of small membrane proteins (115-250 kDa, low or none symmetry). You will have an exceptionally high access to the microscope and will be thoroughly trained. If required there is also access to two Titan Krios microscopes at NeCEN (the Dutch EM facility in Leiden).

Recent papers include:
1. Alvadia, C. et al. Cryo-EM structures and functional characterization of the murine lipid scramblase TMEM16F. Elife 8, 213 (2019).
2. Kalienkova, V. et al. Stepwise activation mechanism of the scramblase nhTMEM16 revealed by cryo-EM. Elife 8, 213 (2019).
3. Stock, C. et al. Cryo-EM structures of KdpFABC suggest a K+ transport mechanism via two inter-subunit half-channels. Nat Comms 9, 4971 (2018).
4. Garaeva, A. A. et al. Cryo-EM structure of the human neutral amino acid transporter ASCT2. Nat Struct Mol Biol 25, 515–521 (2018).
5. Paulino, C., Kalienkova, V., Lam, A. K. M., Neldner, Y. & Dutzler, R. Activation mechanism of the calcium-activated chloride channel TMEM16A revealed by cryo-EM. Nature 552, 421–425 (2017).

You will receive excellent training through cutting-edge research projects, advanced courses and training opportunities, complemented by workshops on generic research, transferable skills and teaching. As a PhD candidate, you are committed to conduct independent and original scientific research, to report on this research in international publications and presentations, and to present the results of the research in a PhD dissertation, to be completed within 4 years. You are expected to contribute 10% of their overall workload to teaching.


You are interested in doing both, wet-lab experiments and cryo-electron microscopy work, shares an enthusiasm membrane protein biochemistry and structural biology, and can provide the following qualifications:
• a MSc degree with specialization in biochemistry, chemistry, biology or physics is required
• excellent communication skills and command of the English language
• ability to work independently and in a team
• highly motivated, proactive and hard-working
• experience in protein expression and purification or cryo-EM is an advantage.

Conditions of employment

We offer you in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

  • a salary of € 2,325 gross per month in the first year to a maximum of € 2,972 gross per month in the final year (salary scale PhD), based on a full-time position (1.0 FTE)
  • an 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end of the year bonus
  • a position for four years. Each successful candidate 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 a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the contract period is to be expected. A PhD training programme is part of the agreement and the successful candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School Science and Engineering of the Faculty

The conditions of employment:

The preferred starting date is 1 September 2019.

Do you meet our qualification criteria? If yes, your application should include (a single PDF file):
• cover letter with background and motivation to apply for this position
• curriculum vitae, including details of bachelor and master degrees, list of wet-lab and structural biology experience as well as other skills and a publication list, if applicable
• detailed (1-2 pages) description of previous research experience, such as the bachelor/master research projects: indicate exactly your contribution
• contact details of 2 academic references who can provide information on your suitability for the position.

You may apply for this position until 2 July 11:59 h / before 3 July 2019 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the online application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

Interviews are scheduled to take place in July 2019.

We are an equal opportunity employer and value diversity at our University. We are committed to building a diverse faculty so you are encouraged to apply. Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers,

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.


For information you can contact:

Dr Cristina Paulino,

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

Additional information
Research group Membrane Enzymology
Research group of Dr. Cristina Paulino
Groningen Biomolecular Science and Biotechnology Institute
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