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PhD in the discovery, characterization and engineering of novel enzymes 1.0 FTE (222705)

Job description

Applications are invited for a 4-year PhD position in the discovery, characterization and engineering of novel enzymes for biocatalytic applications, starting as soon as possible, in the research group of Dr Sandy Schmidt, (http://schmidt-researchgroup.com) at the Department of Chemical and Pharmaceutical Biology (https://www.rug.nl/research/grip/cpb/) within the Groningen Research Institute of Pharmacy (GRIP).

Biocatalysis uses enzymes to replace traditional catalysts. This technology has already established sustainable enzymatic approaches across various industrial sectors and led to economic and environmental benefits. Despite the growing impact of biocatalysis in industrial chemistry, the full potential of this technology is yet to be unlocked. Important current limitations are the following: i) only a limited set of chemical reactions is amenable to biocatalysis; and ii) the unique enzymology encoded in the genome of organisms is yet only minimally explored.

In this context, we are interested in decoding novel reaction chemistries from enzymes that are not accessible with the existing biocatalyst portfolio. With this, we intend to build important molecules such as precursors for pharmaceuticals. A particular focus thereby lies on enzymes from natural product biosynthetic gene clusters that catalyze unique chemical reactions, but are tremendously underexplored as sustainable biocatalysts in the chemical industry. Although their native reactions have recently been investigated, the lack of knowledge on how these enzymes perform challenging reactions hinders a systematical exploration of their reactivity toward non-natural substrates and transformations.

To fill this knowledge gap, in this PhD project we will extend the diversity of available biocatalysts by a genome mining approach from relevant biosynthetic gene clusters and a bioinformatic analysis (based on sequence-similarity networks and genome neighborhood analysis) along with an in-depth biochemical characterization and elucidation of the substrate and reaction scope to deliver a diverse set of promiscuous enzymes. Eventually, identified promiscuous enzymes will be engineered to further increase the desired reactivities to a practical level.

Qualifications

The ideal candidate for this project is an experimental chemist or biologist, with affinity or interest in computational biology, biocatalysis and protein engineering. Some basic Python knowledge is beneficial, but not a must.

Your profile includes:

• a Master degree in chemistry, biotechnology, (molecular) biology, biochemistry or related field
• ability to work in an international team,
• inter- and multidisciplinary thinking,
• high motivation,
• an integrative and cooperative personality with excellent communication and social skills,
• fluency in English – written and oral.

Organisation

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 programmes and academic career opportunities in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 36,000 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 center of knowledge. The Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE) is the largest faculty within the University. We offer first-rate education and research in a wide range of science and engineering disciplines. Our community has an open and informal character with students and staff from around the world.

The research group Chemical and Pharmaceutical Biology (CPB) within GRIP consists of an enthusiastic group of researchers from different parts of the world. The scientific staff currently includes two full professors, one associate professor, and two assistant professors. In addition, two postdocs, four technicians and >25 PhD students are members of the research group. A strong research focus of CPB is on the creation of superior biocatalysts for the sustainable production of pharmaceuticals.

Conditions of employment

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

• a salary of € 2,541 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,247 gross per month in the fourth and final year
• a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income
• an 8.3% end-of-year bonus and participation in a pension scheme for employees
• first, 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 next three years is to be expected. A PhD training programme is part of the agreement and the successful candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School of Science and Engineering.

The conditions of employment: https://www.rug.nl/about-us/work-with-us/

Application

You may apply until 30 November 11:59pm / before 1 December 2022 Dutch local time (CET) for this position by means of the online application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

Applications for the position should include (as a single PDF file):

• cover letter with background and motivation to apply for this position
• curriculum vitae, including details of Bachelor and Master degrees, lab work experience and a publication list, if applicable
• detailed (max. 2 pages) description of previous research experience
• contact details of 2 academic references who can provide information on your suitability for the position.

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage: https://www.rug.nl/(...)rsity-and-inclusion/

Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP), https://www.nvp-hrnetwerk.nl/sollicitatiecode/ and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers, https://euraxess.ec.europa.eu/jobs/charter/code

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Information

For information you can contact:

  • Dr Sandy Schmidt, s.schmidt rug.nl

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

Apply