PhD-position in the joint project »New highly sensitive assay platform for the serological diagnosis of autoimmune liver diseases«

The Brandenburg Technical University (BTU) Cottbus-Senftenberg is expanding the research activities of molecular cell biology at the Institute of Biotechnology in the direction of diagnostic applications. Against this background, a project position (E13, 50%) for a doctoral student will be awarded beginning in July 2020 for a maximum period of 36 months.

Activities and responsibilities

Description of the project:
Autoimmune liver diseases (AIL) are autoantibody (AAB) induced inflammations of the liver parenchyma or the small intrahepatic bile ducts. These diseases have an unfavorable course if they are not detected early. AAB with high disease specificity such as LKM1, SLA/LP or ASGPR are valuable biomarkers for the diagnosis and partly also for therapy monitoring of AIL (Cooper et al., J Auto-imm 2009;33:197-207; doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2009.09.008). For the early diagnosis of AIL as well as for the differentiation from other diseases it is absolutely necessary to be able to detect AIL-specific AAB with high sensitivity and specificity in order to avoid an unfavourable course of the disease towards cirrhosis. So far, there is no assay that combines the necessary evidence of all relevant AABs in one test. In addition, in immunoassays used so far, individual AABs cannot be determined at all or with insufficient sensitivity. The aim of the project partners Generic Assays GmbH, PolyAn GmbH, TU Dresden and the Brandenburg Technical University Cottbus-Senftenberg is therefore the development of a combined multiparametric assay, consisting of the CytoBead technology and the more sensitive chemiluminescence technique, which will allow for the first time a serological early and differential diagnosis of AIL in one test approach (Sowa et al., Clin Rev Allergy Immunol. 2017 Aug;53(1):87-104.; doi: 10.1007/s12016-016-8574-3).

The aim of the announced doctoral thesis is
the Development of hepatocyte cell culture models and platforms for synthesis of recombinant autoantigens for the multiplex diagnostics of autoimmune Liver diseases.

The doctoral thesis will be carried out at the Institute of Biotechnology at BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg. It deals with the characterization and optimization of in vitro models of the liver (see also Kammerer & Küpper, DOI 10.3233/JCB-179012, 2018) as well as the recombinant synthesis or expression of autoantigens. The candidate will be given the opportunity to actively participate in a very active research group with a strong third party funding, consisting of experienced postdocs and PhD students with a wide range of state-of-the-art cell biological and bioanalytical methods. Within the scope of the PhD-project, novel in vitro models of the human liver will be used and examined with regard to the expression of relevant autoantigens. Furthermore, cloning and transfection (gateway cloning system) of AIL-relevant autoantigens by lentiviral gene transfer is planned. The establishment of recombinant expression systems (pro-/eukaryotic or cell-free) for the highly pure production of AIL-relevant autoantigens and their coupling to microparticles by the project partner is also part of the work planned within the framework of the doctorate. It is a challenging work in a very interdisciplinary environment with direct medical and economic relevance.

Qualification profile

The prerequisites for consideration of an application are the successful completion of a Master's degree in the field of biotechnology or a related field of study, practical experience in common methods of cell culture technology and molecular biology (e.g. RT-qPCR, WB, IF) and the ability to work independently and carefully on scientific questions. Knowledge in the field of cell line development and modification, for example using lentiviral expression systems, is an advantage but not a prerequisite. The most important prerequisite is a high level of motivation in combination with teamwork and commitment, so that we, together with our partners in university, clinic and industry, can take AIL diagnostics to a new level.

Working language: German/English

Dissertation language: German/English

Required documents:
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Certificates
  • Letter of motivation
  • Summary of the theses (Bachelor/Master)

Send application to

Please note that we can only consider complete applications. The application period ends on 15.06.2020. For your application (preferably by e-mail as a PDF file) or in case of queries, please contact:

Dr. rer. nat. Christian Schulz

Fraunhofer Institute for Cell Therapy and Immunology,
Department of Bioanalytics and Bioprocesses (IZI-BB),
FG Molecular Cell Biology of the BTU-CS in Senftenberg

Universitätsplatz 1
01968 Senftenberg

Tel: +49 3573 85 914

While applying for the job please refer to jobvector

About Brandenburgische Technische Universität Cottbus-Senftenberg

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