Call for Applications, Germany

PhD Positions in Life Sciences, Germany

Within the German IRTG 1830, the following PhD Positions are available (start date: 12/2016):

1. The mitochondrial protein sorting machinery as molecular target for treatment of OXPHOS-deficiency disorders (IRTG1830-Biochemistry)

(in the lab of Prof. Dr. Martin van der Laan, Medical Biochemistry and Molecular Biology/Biogenesis and Functional Architecture of Mitochondria, Faculty of Medicine, Saarland University, Homburg)

Mitochondria synthesize the vast majority of cellular ATP via oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS). Many proteins involved in this fundamental energy-converting process are encoded by nuclear genes and imported into mitochondria after synthesis in the cytosol. The presequence translocase (TIM23) is the major protein import and sorting machinery of the inner mitochondrial membrane. TIM23 mediates both, ATP-driven import of soluble proteins into the matrix and membrane-potential-driven integration of hydrophobic proteins into the inner membrane. We recently demonstrated that genetic and pharmacological modulation of specific TIM23 activities improves the survival of ATP synthase-defective yeast and human cells. In this project, we will employ diverse biochemical, genetic, and cell biological methods to analyze the molecular mechanisms underlying this unexpected rescue and test its general applicability in different models of OXPHOS-deficiency disorders.


2. Regulation of mitochondrial protein biogenesis under pathophysiological conditions (IRTG1830-CellBiology)

(in the lab of Prof. Dr. Johannes Herrmann, Cell Biology, Faculty of Biology, University of Kaiserslautern, Kaiserslautern)

Mitochondria are essential organelles that consist of about 1,000 different proteins. Most of these proteins are synthesized in the cytosol from where they are imported into mitochondria. The components of the translocation machinery of the outer and inner membrane have been identified and the principles by which they mediate protein translocation studied in some detail.  However, we have very little understanding of the mechanisms that regulate mitochondrial protein biogenesis. In this project, we will address two questions: (i) how do different redox conditions in the cell modulate protein translocation into mitochondria, and (ii) how do cytosolic aggregates interfere with the import of mitochondrial precursors? Both projects have high biological and medical relevance. We are looking for PhD students interested in biochemistry, genetics, proteomics and, due to the close collaboration with our partners in Canada, in molecular medicine.


3. Identification of secretory pathway glutathione transporters (IRTG1830-CellBio)

(in the lab of Dr. Bruce Morgan, Cellular Biochemistry, Faculty of Biology, University of Kaiserslautern, Kaiserslautern)

(in the lab of Dr. Bruce Morgan, Cellular Biology, Faculty of Biology, University of Kaiserslautern, Kaiserslautern) Glutathione is a ubiquitous tripeptide found in all eukaryotes and many prokaryotes. Glutathione plays important roles in diverse cellular processes, for example in protein folding in the endoplasmic reticulum (ER). In yeast and mammalian cells glutathione is synthesized exclusively in the cytosol, yet is found in virtually all cellular organelles and compartments, implying that there must be considerable glutathione transport across intracellular membranes. Surprisingly, the identity of the glutathione transporters in most intracellular membranes remains unknown. This is particularly true of the secretory pathway, despite extensive efforts to identify transporters for example in the ER. We are applying a range of techniques to investigate glutathione homeostasis in the ER, in particular focusing on the extent of communication between the ER and cytosol glutathione pools and the identification of candidate glutathione transporters. Our research will cover yeast genetics, protein biochemistry, yeast cell biology and redox biology techniques.


The program includes a 6-months stay in a lab of Canadian partners and offers excellent scientific and transferable skills training at all participating locations. The program language is English and there are no tuition fees. Successful candidates will receive either contracts (65% TVL13) or a competitive tax-free fellowship, as well as support with administrative matters, accommodation, visas etc. We invite applications from highly qualified and motivated students of any nationality and we are looking forward to your application for a PhD fellowship in our group.


Applications for the 3-year PhD program can be submitted with immediate effect. Applications can only be submitted via: