PhD candidate – Lung organoids to investigate the links between ageing and environmental stress in COPD (f/m/x)


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We are Helmholtz Munich. In a rapidly changing world, we discover breakthrough solutions for better health.

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.

This is what drives us. Why not join us and make a difference?

The Funk Lab ( at the Institute for Lung Health and Immunity investigates how ageing and environmental stress promote the development of chronic lung diseases. Our goal is to identify factors that improve the resistance of the (aged) lung epithelium against environmental insults and thus prevent disease development.

Our research focuses on COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease), an age-related lung disease that is currently the third leading cause of death world-wide and for which only limited therapeutic options are available.

As part of our research, we use 3D lung organoid cell cultures generated from primary tissue of mice and patients and expose them to various environmental factors to gain mechanistic insights.

As part of our research projects, we are looking for a motivated PhD candidate (f/m/x) to join our team from March/April 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

  • You will work with lung organoids generated from primary mouse and/or patient-derived tissue
  • Characterize the regenerative process of lung organoids (e.g., by immunofluorescence staining & microscopy, FACS analyses)
  • Establish micro-injections of lung organoids to expose organoids to environmental factors (such as cigarette smoke extract and particulate matter)
  • Identify and characterize age/disease-specific responses to environmental factors at the level of stem cell regenerative capacity, transcriptome, epigenome and/or immune cell interaction
  • Test candidate factors (e.g. by drug treatment or CRISPR/Cas9 editing) to improve the resilience of epithelial cells against environmental insults

Your profile

  • Master’s degree in Biology, Molecular Biology or Molecular Biotechnology/Bioengineering or equivalent fields
  • Very good practical experience and theoretical knowledge of standard cell and molecular biology techniques
  • Practical experience in (primary) cell culture; experience with organoids is an advantage
  • Experimental experience with CRISPR/Cas9 system or experience in handling of laboratory animals (mice) is an advantage
  • Basic knowledge of a computer programming language (e.g. R)
  • Very good skills in spoken and written English
  • High level of motivation, responsibility, scientific curiosity, and team working skills



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 is available from 04/2024 and 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 Maja Funk,, who will be happy to help.

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