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PhD positions in biochemistry, biophysics and structural biology (3.0 FTE) (221160-62)

Job description

The 3 PhD candidates with backgrounds in biophysics or biochemistry will conduct curiosity-driven biomolecular research to investigate the working mechanism of an ABC transporter involved in cell volume regulation, using high-resolution cryo-electron microscopy, single-molecule fluorescence and biochemical assays, and develop methods to study protein networks in synthetic membrane systems. The research will be performed in the groups of Cristina Paulino and Bert Poolman of the Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute. There will be significant interactions and collaborations between the 3 PhD students, other team members and international colleagues (e.g. in the context of the EU program BioInspireSensing). In addition to conducting research, there will be some teaching duties (~10% of your time).

One of the outstanding questions in biochemistry and cell biology relates to the control of cell volume during growth and under environmental stress. We have found a new structural element located in the ABC transporter OpuA that may act as the ionic strength sensor and allow the transporter to be gated by osmotic stress. In addition, we have found that the 2nd messenger cyclic-di-AMP can act as a safety check for OpuA and prevent the unbridled uptake of solutes under conditions that the cell is in danger of lysis. We now aim to elucidate the full mechanism of transport of OpuA (two PhD positions with main focus on structure and function, respectively) and study the protein in the context of a synthetic network with control of vesicle volume via a mechanosensitive channel protein (one PhD position).


The candidates are expected to have a (research) Master’s degree in biophysics, biochemistry and/or molecular biology, and a strong interest in unravelling the structure-function relationship that underlies the transport mechanism of proteins. Experience with membrane proteins and protein chemistry in general, and depending on the distinct positions - experience with functional assays and fluorescence microscopy, or structural biology (specifically electron microscopy) are a plus. You have good teamwork skills, a “can-do” mentality, are perseverant and have excellent communication skills in English.


Founded in 1614, the University of Groningen enjoys an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative center of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Flexible study program and academic career opportunities in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 35.000 students and researchers alike to develop their own individual talents. The University is in the top 100 on several influential ranking lists.

Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute, Faculty of Science and Engineering
The Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute is a center for top-noted research and teaching in biomolecular sciences, hosting the subdisciplines biochemistry, bioinformatics, biophysical chemistry, cell biology, chemical biology, enzymology, genetics, microbiology, computational modeling, and systems biology. The focus is on curiosity-driven science, with application outlets into (industrial) biotechnology and biomedicine.

Conditions of employment

The conditions of employment are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universitiesare and available at: At our faculty, a PhD project takes four years, during which the PhD student receives a salary. In addition, our PhD’s receive an annual training budget of € 675 to be spent on courses, conferences, etc.

The preferred starting date should be between July and September 2021.


Do you want to become a member of our team? Please send your application to us, by submitting the following requested documents:

• a motivation letter, in which you indicate your interest in one of the PhD position
• a complete curriculum vitae
• names and email addresses of two referees
• if available, an example research paper with a brief explanation on what sparked your interest.

You can submit your application until 31 May 11:59 pm / before 1 June 2021 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

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:

  • Cristina Paulino, c.paulino
  • Bert Poolman, b.poolman

Please do not use the e-mail address(es) above for applications.