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PhD candidate – Lung organoids to investigate the links between ageing and environmental stress...

Helmholtz Association of German Research Centres
Closing date
8 Jan 2024

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Life Science
Job Type
PhD Position
Employment - Hours
Full time
Fixed term

Job Details

Area of research:

PHD Thesis

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


Full time

Neuherberg near Munich

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.

Your application should include

We are Helmholtz Munich.How we promote your career?

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Helmholtz Munich
Deutsches Forschungszentrum für Gesundheit und Umwelt (GmbH)
Institute of Lung Health and Immunity
Ingolstädter Landstraße 1
85764 Oberschleißheim

This research center is part of the Helmholtz Association of German Research Centers. With more than 42,000 employees and an annual budget of over € 5 billion, the Helmholtz Association is Germany's largest scientific organisation.


The Helmholtz Association contributes to solving major challenges to assure the future of our society. With more than 39,000 people on staff in 18 national research centres, the Helmholtz Association is Germany’s largest scientific organization. The name Helmholtz stands for concerted research in which networks form the key principle behind inquiring thought and action. Concerted research is efficient and flexible.

The profile of the Helmholtz Association

The Helmholtz Association performs cutting-edge research which contributes substantially to solving the grand challenges of science, society and industry. To succeed in meeting these responsibilities, Helmholtz concentrates its work in six research fields: Energy, Earth and Environment, Health, Key Technologies, Matter, as well as Aeronautics, Space and Transport. Within each of these fields, research programs are developed by our scientists and regularly evaluated by renowned international experts. Their evaluation forms the basis for the programme-oriented funding that is allocated to Helmholtz research. Within the six research fields, Helmholtz scientists cooperate with each other and with external partners – working across disciplinary, organizational and national borders.

Promoting young academics

Helmholtz scientists, a high-performance infrastructure and modern and efficient research management are the ingredients to the Helmholtz Association‘s success and global impact.
Promoting young researchers is a major priority for the Helmholtz Association. Its qualification schemes for young researchers are geared mainly towards PhD students, postdocs and young managers. The Helmholtz Association has set high standards for its talent management. Its strategy begins with targeted recruitment of highly qualified staff at all levels, followed by comprehensive support aimed at further developing their potential. Ensuring equal opportunities is an essential element in all talent management activities undertaken by the Helmholtz Association.

The Helmholtz Graduate Schools and Research Schools at almost all Helmholtz Centres provide doctoral students with the general and specific skills and training they need, as well as ample opportunity to network with other working groups. The period following a doctorate is decisive in determining the direction and success of a scientific career. For this reason, we are about to establish Career Centers for postdoctoral researchers in the Helmholtz centres and a mentoring programme for especially gifted PostDocs in order to foster career orientation. This equips young researchers with the skills they need to go on to head a Helmholtz Young Investigators Group, for example. As a Young Investigator Group leader, junior scientists can independently set up their own group to conduct research in their specialist field.

Within its talent management strategy, the Helmholtz Association pays special attention to the increased recruitment of talented female scientists both from Germany and abroad. To this end, there are currently two funding programs supporting this policy Funding of first-time appointments of excellent women scientists (W2/W3)’ and ‘Funding to recruit top-level international women scientists (W3)’.

The increasing complexity of the content, structures and framework conditions of scientific work today requires researchers to organise their projects, their employees and, of course, themselves in a highly professional and effective way. In response to these demands, we have set up the Helmholtz Management Academy to provide junior leaders in science with professional management training. Furthermore, the Helmholtz network provides a platform for the alumni of the Helmholtz Management Academy and Mentoring programme to come together and share their experiences of leadership, career development and lifelong learning.

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