PhD positions in membrane protein structural biology with NMR - University of Basel, Switzerland

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posted: April 22, 2010

Two PhD positions are available in the group of Sebastian Hiller at the Biozentrum of the University Basel, starting August 1, 2010. We are studying the structure and function of integral membrane proteins and their complexes with solution NMR and related techniques. Our projects address fundamental biological processes. A representative example for our research is the human voltage-dependent anion channel (VDAC) (1,2).

About the projects

Membrane proteins fulfill essential biological functions in and across membranes, such as transport, signaling and catalysis. Atomic resolution studies of membrane proteins are technically very challenging and many structural and functional questions remain to be answered. One project concerns the de novo structure determination of a channel protein and the understanding of its function and its interactions with other proteins. The second project aims at studying the folding process of integral membrane proteins at atomic resolution and the elucidation of the structural basis for membrane insertion (3). An integral part of all projects is the use and development of state-of-the-art NMR experiments (4).

Candidate requirements

We are looking for highly motivated and creative students with a strong interest in membrane protein structural biology. The candidates will be trained in modern high-resolution NMR spectroscopy as well as in membrane protein molecular biology and biochemistry. Interested candidates need a master degree or equivalent in a scientific discipline at the time of the PhD start. Experience in the following areas is helpful: NMR, protein biochemistry, membrane proteins and molecular biology. The projects will involve both wet-lab and NMR spectroscopy research and candidates should be motivated to develop skills in both areas. Good knowledge of oral and written English is required.

About the center, funding, etc

PhD positions and research projects are long-term funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). We offer an exciting and enthusiastic work environment with national and international scientific collaborations. The Biozentrum Basel provides a great research and education environment. Facilities for structural biology include 600 MHz and 800 MHz Bruker spectrometers equipped with cryogenic and magic angle spinning probes. The start date is August 1, 2010 or on mutual agreement.

How to apply

Applications and informal queries about the lab and research projects should be directed by email to Sebastian Hiller. Applications should include a cover letter, a CV and contact information for two references.

Prof. Sebastian Hiller
SNSF Professor
Biozentrum, University of Basel
Klingelbergstrasse 50/70
4056 Basel, Switzerland
Phone:   +41 44 633 43 45
Fax:     +41 44 632 16 21


  1. Hiller S, Garces RG, Malia TJ, Orekhov VY, Colombini M and Wagner G. Solution structure of the integral human membrane protein VDAC-1 in detergent micelles. Science 321, 1206–1210 (2008).
  2. Raschle T, Hiller S, Yu TY, Rice AJ, Walz T and Wagner G. Structural and functional characterization of the integral membrane protein VDAC-1 in lipid bilayer nanodiscs. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 131, 17777–17779 (2009).
  3. Hiller S, Wider G, Imbach LL and Wüthrich K. Interactions with hydrophobic clusters in the urea-unfolded membrane protein OmpX. Angew. Chem. Int. Ed. 47, 977–981 (2008).
  4. Hiller S, Ibraghimov I, Wagner G and Orekhov VY. Coupled decomposition of four-dimensional NOESY spectra. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 131, 12970–12978 (2009).
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