PhD Position (Epigenetics & Gene Regulation): The role of IL-17 signalling in autoimmunity

The IPP Mainz summer call 2019 is open.

Thinking of doing your PhD in Molecular Biology? The International PhD Programme (IPP) on “Epigenetics, Gene Regulation & Genome Stability” is offering talented, young scientists the chance to work at the cutting edge of research. The IPP has a community of exceptional scientists working on diverse topics. These range from how organisms age or how our DNA is repaired, to how epigenetics regulates cellular identity or neural memory. This means that no matter where your PhD project takes you, there is always someone to go to for advice or collaborations.

As part of the IPP, you will be given advanced training, covering skills needed for both research and industry. Access to our state-of-the-art Core Facilities and their technical expertise ensures that you are supported no matter how challenging or expansive your project becomes. Importantly, as an IPP student, you are offered a fully funded position with financing until the completion of your thesis. To help you integrate and settle in Mainz, IPP students organise and run a lively social programme with activities to suit everyone.

The IPP is coordinated by the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) —a modern research centre located on the bustling campus of Mainz University in Germany. The IPP currently has over 120 energetic students from 30 countries working on innovative research at IMB, Mainz University and its University Medical Centre.

Are you an ambitious, young scientist looking to push the boundaries of science while interacting with colleagues from multiple disciplines and cultures? Then the IPP is your opportunity to give your scientific career a flying start!

Activities and responsibilities

The IPP research group of Prof. Ari Waisman offers the following PhD project:

The role of IL-17 signalling in autoimmunity

MS is the most frequent disorder among neurodegenerative diseases with largely unknown aetiology and, despite much progress in the treatment of symptoms, with no cure up to date.
To study the cellular and molecular mechanisms of MS pathology, the Waisman lab routinely uses an animal disease model termed experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). In mice, the disease is induced by stimulation of the immune system with protein fragments derived from the central nervous system (CNS). The current concept is based on a paradigm that particular immune cells, namely T cells, become autoreactive and attack directly and indirectly the components of the CNS. A major subpopulation of CD4 T cells, involved in the pathogenesis of EAE is termed Th17 cells. These cells secrete the messenger protein (cytokine) interleukin (IL) – 17. The mechanism by which IL-17 induces pathogenicity in these autoimmune diseases is not clear.
As a PhD student in the Waisman lab, you will develop new mouse strains, which will allow to trace cells that underwent cell-to-cell interaction, using well acknowledged Cre-recombinase-dependent systems. Mechanistically, the lab aims to activate Cre-recombinase in target cells in a tissue-specific manner. In the frame of this PhD project, you will investigate how the target tissue in different autoimmune diseases respond to IL-17 signalling and look for common dominators in this response. For that, you will use the Cre/loxP system to delete the IL-17 receptor in the target tissue, in particular in the gut, to study the role of this cytokine in gut inflammation. We will use a combination of genetic tools, microscopy, Next Generation Sequencing, including single cell sequencing, ATAC sequencing and proteomics, as well as high dimensional flow cytometry to study the body’s response to IL-17.

Qualification profile

Required qualifications
  • Master or equivalent
  • Motivation to work at the forefront of science
  • Interactive personality & good command of English
Further requirement:
  • 2 letters of reference


We offer
  • The possibility to work on exciting, multidisciplinary projects using state-of-the-art technology in highly motivated research teams
  • To be part of a lively and international community of about 120 IPP students from 30 countries
  • Numerous opportunities for advanced professional training in scientific knowledge, techniques and professional skills
  • Fully funded positions until completion of thesis
Starting date: 1 August 2019 – 1 February 2020
Duration of stipend/salary: 3 years, with the possibility of extension

Deadline for registration (exclusively online via web form): 22 May 2019

Send application to

Please find all relevant information on the application process at:

While applying for the job please refer to jobvector and use the following reference number: JV-C17-AW

About Institute of Molecular Biology gGmbH

Our International PhD Programme on the “Gene Regulation, Epigenetics and DNA Damage Response” gives talented and enthusiastic students the opportunity to undertake PhD research at the cutting edge of modern biology. Our groups cover a broad range of expertise and include leading biochemists, geneticists, cell and developmental biologists who study the molecular mechanisms of embryonic...
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