PhD Project: Exploring the biophysics of nuclear pore‐like permeability barrier function using microfluidics, chemical microscopy, and theory

Activities and responsibilities

We seek to hire two PhD students interested in cellular and molecular biophysics to work with us to elucidate the barrier properties of the nuclear pore complex. The nuclear pore complex is made up of nucleoporin proteins (Nups), and Nups rich in phenylalanine (F) and glycine (G) repeat domains, called FG-Nups, are thought to form a selective permeation barrier. This barrier allows only certain cargos into and out of the nucleus with the assistance of nuclear transport receptors (NTRs). In this project, we will explore the biophysics of FG-Nup barrier formation using a microfluidic platform wherein the concentration of FG-Nups (and barrier formation), NTRs, and molecular cargo can be dynamically controlled. With real-time, spectroscopic studies of the dynamics of barrier formation and barrier mechanics, in the presence absence of NTRs, we aim to elucidate the mechanism that underpins the selective barrier properties within the nuclear pore complex.

The microfluidic platform will be integrated with various investigative tools: optical microscopy (to study demixing and aging on a macroscopic scale), in-situ Raman spectroscopy (to study sub-molecular interactions and map the “chemical landscape”) and microrheology (to study viscosity transients and gelling/aging). The project is a collaboration between the Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research (MPIP) and the Institute for Molecular Biology (IMB), both situated in Mainz, Germany.

Qualification profile

We are looking for motivated students with the following characteristics: 1) a background in physical chemistry, biophysics or similar and 2) motivation to work both experimentally and computationally. Experience with code development and microscopy instrumentation are strong advantages but not requirements.


The MPIP is a world renowned institute in macromolecular science and soft matter. The institute offers a highly international environment where the working language is English, and the scientific and technical infrastructure is excellent. The access to resources and scientific expertise for this project provide every opportunity to development as a scientist.

The PhD positions are regulated by the Max Planck Society bylaws under the salary stipulated by the DFG.

Send application to

If you are interested in applying for this position, please send an application letter and CV via email to both of the following contacts at MPIP:

Dr. Sapun Parekh (
Dr. Jasper Michels (

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About Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research
More about Max Planck Institute for Polymer Research