Helmholtz Zentrum München is a research center with the mission to discover personalized medical solutions for the prevention and therapy of environmentally triggered diseases and promote a healthier society in a rapidly changing world.

At our institute you will find a scientifically stimulating international environment. Together with renowned scientists and supported by an excellent infrastructure you will have the opportunity to make an important contribution for a healthier society.

The Niessing lab at the Institute of Structural Biology is a multidisciplinary team with expertise ranging from structural biology and structure-based drug optimization, biophysical interaction studies to high-through-put approaches and stem cell-based research. Doing a PhD in this unusually multidisciplinary setting will teach you to a wide range of methods and exposes you to a rather holistic view on biological questions. This breath of approaches is further supported by close interactions with the Niessing lab at the Ulm University.

One of our core projects is the so-called PURA Syndrome. It is a rare genetic disorder caused by mutations in the gene PURA. The resulting PURA protein is expressed in all human tissues and involved in major cellular processes including transcription, mRNA transport and translation as well as neuronal development. Defects in the PURA gene causes neurodevelopmental delays, leaving the patient with intellectual disability, difficulties with motion and epileptic seizures. First diagnosed in 2014, today about 400 patients are known worldwide. Several of the affected families are organized in the PURA Syndrome Foundation, with which we are in regular contact.

PhD candidate - the neurodevelopmental disorder PURA Syndrome (f/m/x) 100906

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Your mission

The Niessing group has established a broad research program on the PURA Syndrome to understand the molecular action of PURA and the cause of symptoms in patients. Using X-ray crystallography, we study the structure of PURA alone and when bound to other factors. In immortalized cell lines and in induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) we employ high-throughput techniques to assess the interactome of PURA. This way, we have established a large amount of data as basis for the announced PhD position.

Your task will be to assess molecular pathways with regards to their impact on cellular function. This will, for instance, involve gene-knockout studies via CRISPR/Cas and cell-biological skills such as antibody staining. On the other hand, you will be involved in biochemical approaches such as protein-protein interaction studies. In summary, this thesis will offer an unusually wide spectrum of techniques and will be embedded in an exciting research program with direct contact to affected families and patients.

Your qualifications

  • Appropriate studies (Master of Science / Diploma) in biology, biochemistry or related disciplines
  • Expertise in human/mouse cell culture
  • Biochemical experience is of advantage, no expertise in structural biology required
  • Strong interest and ambition to learn about RNA-based regulatory networks and related diseases
  • Knowledge of molecular biology
  • High motivation, flexibility and teamwork

What we offer you

scientific training at HELENA Graduate School
work-life balance
flexible working hours & time off in lieu
30 days annual leave
on-site health management service
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Munich, with its numerous lakes and its vicinity to the Alps, is considered to be one of the cities with the best quality of life worldwide. With its first-class universities and world-leading research institutions it offers an intellectually stimulating environment.

This position also provides the opportunity for you to build specialist knowledge and collect significant professional experience, both of which will help advance your scientific career.

Remuneration and social benefits are based on the collective wage agreement for public-sector employees at federal level (EG 13 50% TV EntgO Bund). In addition, there is also the possibility of granting an allowance amounting to 15% if the necessary conditions are fulfilled. The position is (initially) limited to three years, but under certain circumstances an extension can be arranged.

To promote diversity, we welcome applications from talented people regardless of cultural background, nationality, ethnicity, gender and sexual identity, physical abilities, religion and age. Qualified applicants with physical disabilities will be given preference.
Applicant guidance on the Corona pandemic 

If you have further questions, simply contact Prof. Dr. Dierk Niessing at, who will be happy to be of assistance.
Helmholtz Zentrum München
Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt (GmbH)
Institute of Structural Biology
Ingolstädter Landstraße 1 

85764 Oberschleißheim

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