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Post-doc / PhD position in biophysics (V23.0031)

Job description

The lab has recently found that cellular metabolism does not operate beyond a certain Gibbs energy dissipation rate (Niebel et al. 2019, Nature Metabolism). This thermodynamic limit could explain the type of metabolism that cancer cells show. We are now highly interested to uncover the molecular mechanism that is responsible for this thermodynamic limit. Here, we hypothesize that enzymes during their catalysis get actively displaced in space, inducing increased molecular motion in the cell and mixing up of the cytoplasm. We have described this hypothesis in a recent perspective article (Losa et al, 2022, Molecular Systems Biology).

In this project, we like to explore the above mentioned idea. To this end, we will use the bacterium E. coli as a model and will perform highly sophisticated microscopy experiments with different dynamic particle tracking technique to measure diffusion rates in cells. Furthermore, in model-based experimental analyses, we aim to determine the Gibbs energy dissipation rates under different metabolic conditions.

Exploring how an active metabolism as an out-of-equilibrium system induces intracellular motion is not only a great scientific adventure with the potential to open up a new avenue how dynamic cellular metabolism might control cellular processes (i.e. through motion), but it also harbors significant potential for medicine and biotechnology, where metabolism plays a key role.

About the University of Groningen
Since its foundation in 1614, the University of Groningen has enjoyed an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative center of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Balanced study and career paths in a wide variety of disciplines encourage currently more than 36,000 students and researchers to develop their own individual talents. Belonging to the best research universities in Europe and the top 100 universities in the world, the University of Groningen is truly an international place of knowledge.


This project has a focus on biophysical experiments (e.g. single-particle tracking microscopy). No specific prior experience in these experimental techniques is required, as there is sufficient expertise present in the lab, offering an opportunity to learn these techniques. We are convinced that excellent candidates with the right motivation can learn everything.


Conditions of employment

The Heinemann lab is a mid-sized lab with around 10 lab members. This size is large enough for critical mass, but small enough to warrant excellent support from the advisor.

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

  • For the PhD position: a salary of € 2,541 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,247 gross per month (based on fulltime employment) in the fourth and final year. The 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 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.

For the postdoc position: an appointment of three years and a salary from a minimum of € 3,557 gross per month up to a maximum of € 4,670 gross per month (salary scale 10) based on a full-time position and dependent on qualification and work experience.

  • a full-time position (1.0 FTE)
  • a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income
  • an 8.3% end-of-year bonus and participation in a pension scheme for employees.

Eligibility criteria
To apply as a PhD student, the candidate needs to have a Master degree. To apply as a postdoc, the candidate needs to have a PhD degree, which must have been awarded less than eight years ago.

The two most important selection criteria for this position are (i) the "motivation" and (ii) the "creativity" of the candidate. With the right motivation, everything can be learned, meaning that the candidate does not need any particular prior skills/qualifications besides having a Master degree (or PhD in the case the candidate applies for the postdoc position). Our lab members come from many different disciplines and we have a great culture of learning and teaching each other.


Selection process
Every incoming application is immediately being looked at. Good candidates are then being contacted to schedule a first brief online interview (even before the application deadline), possibly followed by more in-depth discussions and an invitation to come to Groningen for a day or two, to allow for discussions with the current lab members. The preferred starting date is between March 1st and June 1st 2023, but this is flexible and up to negotiation.

For a successful, productive and a joyful PhD or postdoc time it is important that everything fits and is right. This entails that there is good communication between the PhD student / postdoc and the group leader and the group members, that there is a joint view on ambition, etc. Thus, in the hiring process, we make sure that we take sufficient amount of time to make the right decision. The decisions has to be right for us as a research group and also for the candidate.

The application should contain (i) a CV, (ii) information about grades and other measures of success, (iii) two letters of recommendation (these can also be emailed directly), or names of potential references, and (iv) a short statement on how the candidate’s prior experience/expertise could be connected to one of the above mentioned projects.

You may apply for this position until 12 February 11:59pm / before 13 February 2023 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).

PhD application form:
Postdoc application form:

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:
Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers:

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For information you can contact:

  • Prof. Matthias Heinemann, for further information on the positions, m.heinemann

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

Additional information