Umeå University (UmU)

Four postdoctoral fellowships (2 years each) to study mitochondrial DNA stability with relevance to disease at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics

Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics, Umeå University

Umeå, Sweden

Up to four postdoctoral fellowships of 2 years each are available to study mechanisms that guarantee mitochondrial DNA stability in eukaryotes. The research will be carried out at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics that offers a stimulating international research environment.

Research description
Mitochondria are organelles that produce cellular energy in the form of ATP. The mitochondrion is a unique organelle since it contains multiple copies of a double-stranded circular DNA genome, mtDNA, that encodes for core components of the energy-producing machinery. The mtDNA-encoded subunits are essential for efficient energy production, whereby it is crucial that mtDNA is maintained intact and at a sufficient copy number. Defects in mtDNA maintenance can lead to cellular energy deficiency and manifest as mitochondrial disease.

Two postdoctoral fellowships are available in each of the two projects within this research topic. Applicants are advised to indicate their project preference.

Project 1: Signalling of mtDNA defects
Given that mutations and alterations in mtDNA copy number are implicated in a number of human diseases including certain cancers, it is crucial to elucidate and understand how our cells normally ensure the stable maintenance of mtDNA. The aim of this project is to characterize the molecular mechanisms that protect mtDNA stability and investigate the consequences of mtDNA defects in terms of retrograde signalling. We study the effects of mtDNA defects using a combination of human cell culture experiments, yeast genetics and protein biochemistry. The research will be carried out in a young and growing research group funded by the Swedish Society for Medical Research, the Swedish Cancer Society and the Swedish Research Council.

Qualifications (Project 1)
The candidate should hold, or be about to be awarded, a PhD degree or equivalent in cell or molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics or a related discipline. We are seeking highly motivated applicants with experience in cell culture experiments, genetics of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and/or the expression and purification of recombinant proteins. Previous experience in the fields of (mitochondrial) DNA metabolism, mitochondrial biology or DNA damage signalling is a strong merit. An ability to take initiative and to function both independently and as part of an international team are required. Excellent oral and written communication skills in English are essential.

For further information on this project, please see the lab website at https://www.umu.se/en/research/groups/paulina-wanrooij/ or contact Paulina Wanrooij at paulina.wanrooij@umu.se.

Project 2: MtDNA deletion formation in disease
Deletions in mtDNA give rise to a variety of neuromuscular symptoms and accumulate in inherited mitochondrial disorders, but also in the affected tissues of Parkinsons’s disease patients. Yet in spite of their medical relevance, little is known about the mechanisms by which mtDNA deletions form, which hampers the development of treatments. The purpose of this project is to find ways to prevent deletion formation in affected individuals. As an essential step towards preventing their formation, we aim to uncover the exact mechanisms by which mtDNA deletions arise using a combination of in vitro protein biochemistry and human cell-based approaches.

Qualifications (Project 2)
The candidate should hold, or be about to be awarded, a PhD degree or equivalent in cell or molecular biology, biochemistry, genetics or a related discipline. We are seeking highly motivated applicants with experience in human cell culture experiments, and/or the expression and purification of recombinant proteins. Previous experience in the fields of mitochondrial biology or/and DNA replication/repair is a strong merit. An ability to function independently and as part of a team is required. Excellent oral and written communication skills in English are essential.

For further information on this project, please contact Sjoerd Wanrooij at sjoerd.wanrooij@umu.se and see the lab website at https://www.umu.se/en/research/groups/sjoerd-wanrooij/

The application

The application should include:
- a cover letter describing your scientific background and goals for this post-doctoral period, and stating your project preference (max. one A4 page),
- a CV including a full publication list,
- copies of relevant degree certificate(s),
- names and contact information of three reference persons.

Your complete application, in a single pdf-file and marked with reference number FS 2.1.6-464-20, should be sent to medel@diarie.umu.se and to sjoerd.wanrooij@umu.se (state the reference number as subject), not later than April 3, 2020.

About us
The Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics is located within the Chemical Biological Centre (in Swedish “Kemiskt Biologiskt Centrum”, KBC) – an interdisciplinary research centre for the life/natural sciences and medicine at Umeå University and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences. The centre is unique in its collaborative structure and offers an excellent scientific infrastructure with several core facilities and technical platforms. Our goal is to promote a positive, creative, and interdisciplinary environment for research combined with an excellent graduate and undergraduate education. You can find more information here: www.umu.se/en/kbc.

Umeå University is dedicated to providing creative environments for learning and work. We offer a wide variety of courses and programs, world leading research, and excellent innovation and collaboration opportunities. 4 000 employees and nearly 34 000 students have already chosen Umeå University.

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Position

Four postdoctoral fellowships (2 years each) to study mitochondrial DNA stability with relevance to disease at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics