PhD and Postdoctoral Position in Assembly, DNA loading and processing of virophages (f/m/d)

Young Researchers Heidelberg
Structural and Cell Biology

Job Code: 05/2019

Job Offer from March 06, 2019

At the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, one of the 84 institutes of the Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science, physicists, chemists and biologists create knowledge of long-term relevance to life and basic medical sciences.

The research group of Jochen Reinstein (Dept. of BioMolecular Mechanisms, BMM) at the Max Planck Institute for Medical Research, Heidelberg, invites applications for a Ph.D. and Postdoctoral position dedicated to biophysical and spectroscopic/structural studies on the life cycle of virophages and their applications as nano-containers.

Project Description:

Virophages are small DNA viruses of unicellular eukaryotes that replicate only during a coinfection with a giant virus. They propagate at the expense of the giant virus using its cytosolic reproduction and assembly machinery. Virophages encode about 20 genes including two capsid proteins, a protease that assists maturation and a FtsK-HerA type ATPase that supposedly is responsible for ATP dependent DNA transport into the assembled capsid.

The successful candidate will characterize capsid assembly & processing and active DNA transport of the Virophage. The assembly/-disassembly pathway will be characterized with spectroscopic, kinetic and structural methods with the aim to better understand the hierarchy and pathway of supramolecular organisation of capsid structure and what determines the exact size of assembled particles in the absence of a molecular ruler. Key to addressing these questions is the development and application of fluorescence based markers for FRET and Fluorescence Microscopy assays. The gained knowledge will be used for recruiting in vitro assembled capsids for in vivo studies in collaboration with Matthias Fischer (Dept. BMM).

Candidates should have an excellent track record, high motivation, broad scientific interests and will join a multidisciplinary and international team. They should hold at least a Master’s (Ph.D. or equivalent for postdoctoral candidates) degree in Biochemistry or related fields. The working language of the project will be English. We offer excellent laboratory facilities tailored to the needs of the project. Payment is based on the TVöD guidelines.

Ph.D. candidates will have the opportunity to participate in one of several interdisciplinary Ph.D. programs in collaboration with the University of Heidelberg.The position is limited to three years with a possibility of extension.

For postdoctoral applicants, the position is limited to two years with a possibility of extension.

The Max Planck Society is committed to increasing the number of individuals with disabilities in its workforce and therefore encourages applications from such qualified individuals. The Max Planck Society strives for gender and diversity equality. We welcome applications from all backgrounds. A daycare center for children is located near the institute.

For further information, please contact Jochen Reinstein (

For general questions, please contact Ms. Sabrina Giacalone or Mrs. Fabienne Höfer-Elfner (+49 6221 486- 305/311) from human resources.

Please submit your application, including the reference number 05/2019 and a cover letter (explaining background and motivation), your CV, complete transcripts (for Ph.D. applicants) or past research summary with a list of publications (for postdoctoral applicants) via e-mail as a single PDF file with the above reference preferably until April 30th, 2019 (excellent applications will be considered year-round).

Max Planck Institute for Medical Research
C/O Human Resources
POB 10 38 20
69028 Heidelberg



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