PhD Scholarship in Chemical Biology Division for A Project on Copper-transport Proteins in Breast Cancer

Outstanding international students are invited to apply for a PhD scholarship in nanotechnology at Chalmers University of Technology. The funds for this position are available for five years. Applications are welcome before December 15, 2018.

The Department of Biology and Biological Engineering was founded January 1 2015, and started off with high ambitions. The aim was to grow and become a leading center of innovation by combining the latest research in life sciences with biochemistry. And the department got off to flying start. In its first year, the numbers for publication, citation and external funding have been excellent.

The department consists of four divisions, each conducting outstanding research in the areas of industrial biotechnology, systems biology, chemical biology and food science. The overall goal is to help build a sustainable society and improve human health. Nearly 200 people from 20 countries are currently working at the department. The working environment is characterized by respect, cooperation, responsibility, creativity and job satisfaction. The Department of Biology and Biological Engineering has summarized its mission in four points: - To be an attractive environment for top-level researchers in biological engineering - To deliver top-level research results and innovative solutions for use in a sustainable society - To offer excellent education that develops creative engineers and scientists - To be a major contributor to international visibility of Chalmers Information about the research

At the Chemical Biology division in the department Biology and Biological Engineering, there is a focus on biophysical-biochemical-cellular studies of protein dynamics, interactions and function. The research theme in the group of Wittung-Stafshede has for long centered on protein folding and the role of metals in these reactions. Current research in this group addresses questions regarding protein amyloid formation, as well as how metal ions (e.g., copper) are delivered to metal-dependent enzymes by specific metal-transport proteins and unknown functions for metal-transport proteins in disease. The research is interdisciplinary on the border between chemistry and biology.

Copper ions (Cu) are essential for the survival of most living organisms. Because of its redox properties, Cu are used as a cofactor in many enzymes that facilitate, for example, respiration, pigmentation, and neuropeptide synthesis. The redox activity of Cu can be harmful to cells by promoting reactive oxygen species that damage macromolecules; therefore, there are no free Cu ions in cells. Instead, nature has evolved dedicated Cu transport systems that specifically transport the metal ion inside the cells for delivery to Cu-dependent enzymes. The human Cu transport system involves both soluble Cu chaperones and membrane-spanning proteins that shuttle the metal via direct protein-protein interactions. Recent findings imply that some Cu-transport proteins (eg. Atox1) may be involved in facilitating cancer cell migration. Cancer cell migration is the first step towards cancer metastasis and its understanding is of disruptive importance as metastases are the primary cause of cancer deaths in humans.

Major responsibilities

In this PhD project, the student will investigate how Cu transport proteins and to-be-identified partners participate in facilitating cancer cell migration. The project will span from biochemistry to cancer cell biology, using model systems of increasing complexity. Your major responsibilities are to pursue your own doctoral studies. You are expected to develop your own scientific concepts and communicate the results of your research verbally and in writing, both in Swedish and in English. The position generally also includes teaching on Chalmers’ undergraduate level or performing other duties corresponding to 20 per cent of working hours.

Full-time temporary employment. The position is limited to a maximum of five years.


Prerequisites include 240 ECTS credits or equivalent higher education studies, of which 60 should be advanced-level Biochemistry, Chemistry, Biology subjects relevant for the project topic. Documented experience of laboratory work involving mammalian cell cultures, microscopy methods and C. elegans model organisms is desired. Applicants should have strong interest in basic biological research, be able to work independently, and take own initiatives. Evidence of proficiency in English is necessary.

The position requires sound verbal and written communication skills in Swedish and English. If Swedish is not your native language, you should be able to teach in Swedish after two years. Chalmers offers Swedish courses.

Read more about working at Chalmers and our benefits for employees.

Application procedure

The application should be marked with Ref 20180616 and written in English.

CV: (Please name the document: CV, Family name, Ref. number)

- CV

- Other, for example previous employments or leadership qualifications and positions of trust.

- Two references that we can contact.

Personal letter: (Please name the document as: Personal letter, Family name, Ref. number)

- 1-3 pages where you introduce yourself and present your qualifications.

- Previous research fields and main research results.

- Future goals and research focus. Are there any specific projects and research issues you are primarily interested in?

- Copies of bachelor and/or master's thesis.

- Attested copies and transcripts of completed education, grades and other certificates, eg. TOEFL test results.

Application deadline: 15th of December 2018

Pernilla Wittung-Stafshede

+46 31-772 8112


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