Two PhD student positions on cellular structural biology and basic medicine of motile cilia

Updated: about 1 month ago
Job Type: Permanent

The position is to be a PhD student of D-BIOL/ETHZ. The workplace is the group of Prof. Takashi Ishikawa at Paul Scherrer Institute (you are employed by PSI).

The positions are funded by Swiss National Science Foundation and Personalized Health and Related Technologies.

Motile cilia are appendage-like organelles, which make beating motion to cause flow of extracellular fluids or enable cells to swim. Motile cilia are made of more than 400 proteins and function in sperm, the oviduct, brain, tracheae and the embryo. Its defect results in respiratory diseases, mental disorder, male and female infertility, and developmental abnormality, called ciliopathy.

My group has been investigating the molecular mechanism of beating of cilia, employing cryo-electron microscopy (summarized in the review article, Ishikawa (2017) Cold Spring Harb Perspect Biol. 9(1):a028076. doi: 10.1101/cshperspect.a028076.)). Now we expand our research field by combining cryo-EM with cross-linking mass-spectrometry, collaborating with Dr. Alexander Leitner (D-BIOL/ETHZ), which is the focus of one PhD project. With this project, the student can learn both cryo-EM and MS using model organisms, such as unicellular algae Chlamydomonas, to investigate 3D conformation and arrangement of component proteins in cilia.

The other project is to study human ciliopathy using cultured ciliated epithelial cells and cryo-EM. We succeeded to culture human bronchial epithelial cells and image cilia from them by cryo-EM, especially cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET). Our collaborator, ciliopathy experts at Inselspital (Bern), will provide cells from ciliopathy patients. We will culture them and analyze cilia, preparing by cryo-ultramicrotomy (at Univ. Bern) and cryo-FIB (ETH Zurich) milling method. The PhD student will pursue molecular mechanism of ciliopathy and can also learn cryo-EM, human cell culture and various cell biology methods.

For both projects, high-end cryo-EMs are available at ETH Zurich and PSI. Cell biology, biochemistry and computational facilities are located at PSI.

MSc degree in the field of biology, biochemistry with experience of protein biochemistry, cell culture


MSc degree in the field of physics, informational science (image processing/analysis oriented) with keen interest in structural biology and biological imaging

Experience of genetic engineering and computation (script writing etc) will be highly welcomed but not necessary.

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