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PhD position in Molecular Biology - Epigenetics meets superresolution light microscopy

In the field of  “Epigenetics meets superresolution light microscopy” the research group of Prof. Christoph Cremer offers the following PhD project:

Superresolution light microscopy of fluorescent nanostructures in the cell nucleus


In the study of the highly complex folding and dynamics of DNA and associated protein complexes, the successful application and further development of new superresolution microscopy methods holds a key position, together with novel technologies of epigenetics analysis (also available at IMB). This allows the organization of the cell nucleus to be resolved at the nanostructure level in order to be able to understand the mechanisms and regulatory processes involved in the “on-and-off switching” of genes. Supported by data from other (e.g. non-imaging epigenetic) analyses, this information presently enters into models used to describe and eventually determine how changes in chromatin organization alter the activation level of genes. The vast field of applications includes cancer research, cell differentiation (e.g. in the development of organs), drug development, radiation damage, ageing and many more.
Alongside the PhD-project, our group will further improve the currently available methods of quantitative optical analysis of chromatin nanostructures. In collaboration with other groups inside and outside IMB and the university, we will enhance the Structured Excitation Illumination microscopy approach to study chromatin structure and dynamics also in vivo during processes such as DNA repair and gene regulation. The biological focus will be on the analysis of one (or more) specific nuclear nanostructures in intact eukaryotic cell nuclei.
The successful candidate is envisaged to have a background in optical microscopy and/or image analysis and a keen interest in cellular biophysics. Preferentially he/she will have a Master/Diploma degree either in Physics, Computer Sciences, Medical Physics, or Molecular Biotechnology. Depending on the specific biological question, a selection of the various imaging tools available in the Cremer Lab will be used.
In this PhD project, the goal is to further develop and apply a Structured Excitation Illumination microscope (and combine this with other relevant nanoscopy methods available at IMB; for review see Cremer et al. 2011). The SEI technique enables nanoscopy of biological samples with the same fluorophores used in conventional microscopy. This greatly facilitates specimen preparation as well as multi-modal imaging allowing the comparison and combination of results obtained using different microscopic techniques. This combination allows to measure small features in 3D, and presently yields about 1,000 times better resolution than what can be achieved with conventional confocal microscopy (regarding the observation volume). So far, this combinatorial microscopy (SPDM-SMI; SPDM-SIM) has been established in the Cremer Lab for 3D nanoimaging of small membrane receptor clusters (Kaufmann et al. 2011, Rossberger et al. 2013). The goal of the PhD thesis will be to adapt and apply this novel 3D superresolution technique to epigenetically relevant nuclear nanostructure analysis and to extend its application to nanoimage three different types of fluorescent molecules simultaneously.

We offer
•    The possibility to work on a cutting-edge project using state-of-the-art technology in a highly motivated research team
•    A stimulating, diverse and international research environment
•    Advanced training opportunities
•    A competitive stipend

    Required qualifications
•    Master or Diploma
•    Motivation to solve complex biological problems
•    Excellent communication skills

Starting date: 01 March 2015 or later
Duration of stipend: 3 years, with the possibility of extension
Deadline for applications (exclusively online via web form):  08 November 2014

Contact detail

How to apply:
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Job profile

Working hours
Contract duration
Type of job
PhD Project
Work experience
job experience is not required
Germany (Rheinland-Pfalz)
Working place
55128 Mainz
Area of expertise
Biology & Life Sciences, Physics