PhD candidate (f/m/x) - the role of interstitial lung macrophages in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease


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Our research is focused within the areas of metabolic health/diabetes, environmental health, molecular targets and therapies, cell programming and repair, bioengineering, and computational health. We particularly excel in the fields of basic research, bioengineering, artificial intelligence, and technological development.

Through this research, we build the foundations for medical innovation. Together with our partners, we seek to accelerate the transfer of our research, so that laboratory ideas can reach society and improve people’s quality of life at the fastest rate possible.

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Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a worldwide fatal disease and is characterized by small airway obstruction, alveolar wall damage and chronic inflammation. Lung macrophages orchestrate the observed pathophysiology via the imbalance in the secretion of pro-inflammatory mediators and defects in macrophage phagocytosis which result in irreversible immune cell recruitment and emphysema. Moreover, macrophage-derived reactive oxygen species predominate over endogenous antioxidant mechanisms and promote cellular senescence, mucous hypersecretion and contribute to the risk of acute exacerbations.

Single-cell transcriptomics have revealed that lung macrophages are highly heterogeneous and comprise several molecular phenotypes. In COPD patients, one macrophage subset, called interstitial lung macrophages, is responsible for homeostatic processes, such as antigen presentation, the maintenance of arterial tone, wound healing and tissue repair. However, the phenotypic characterization of interstitial macrophages still remains incomplete.

To elucidate their heterogeneity and functions over COPD progression, as well as to explore their potential as cellular biomarkers for early diagnosis, the Kapellos lab at the Institute of Lung Health and Immunity is seeking to hire a talented PhD candidate, starting ideally May 1, 2024.

Prof. Matthias Tschöp (Dr. Med., Dr. hc.), CEO of Helmholtz Munich:

"We believe that excellent research requires a range of different perspectives. Diverse teams reach better solutions and are more innovative in their research topics.

Establishing our Diversity Management Strategy demonstrates our commitment to ensuring an appreciative company culture based on mutual respect. We are also implementing diversity-sensitive processes throughout our whole organization."

Your tasks

  • apply single-cell transcriptomics protocols as part of a dedicated team for human genomics
  • successfully identify and sort macrophages from human lung fluids
  • establish and run in vitro assays and human immunocompetent organoids
  • optimize a multiplex indirect immunofluorescence imaging protocol for human lung tissue
  • present work in national and international scientific meetings
  • write reports and carry out other duties as assigned

Your profile

  • Master's degree in immunology, biomedical studies or similar
  • Proficiency in written and spoken English
  • Exposure to immunological methods, such as multi-color flow cytometry, qPCR, ELISA, Western blotting and immunofluorescent microscopy
  • Familiarity with genomics technologies, flow cytometry, human cell culture
  • Previous experience in programming (R/Python)



Since 2005, we hold the TOTAL E-QUALITY award for exemplary action in the sense of an equal-opportunity organizational culture.

Helmholtz Munich is actively committed to diversity and inclusion in practice and is sustainably committed to equality.

The Diversity Charter has set itself the goal of promoting diversity in the world of work. By signing the charter, we commit ourselves to create an appreciative working environment for all employees.


This position provides the opportunity for you to build specialist knowledge whilst developing key professional experience, both of which will help you to make strides in your scientific career.

Remuneration and social security benefits are based on the German Collective Wage Agreement for Public-Sector Employees at Federal Level (EG 13 50% TV EntgO Bund). In addition, there is also the possibility of receiving an allowance if the applicable conditions are met. The position has an (initial) fixed term of three years but may be extended under certain circumstances.

We are committed to promoting a culture of diversity and welcome applications from talented people regardless of gender, cultural background, nationality, ethnicity, sexual identity, physical abilities, religion or age. Qualified applicants with physical disabilities will be given preference. If you have obtained a university degree abroad, we will require further documents from you regarding the comparability of your degree. Please request the Statement of Comparability for Foreign Higher Education Qualifications as early as possible.


Interested in applying?

If you have any questions, feel free to contact Theodoros Kapellos,, who will be happy to help.

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