Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

PhD scholarship in enzymatic conversion of red blood cell antigens to the universal type blood group O

Technical University of Denmark (DTU)

2800 Kgs. Lyngby, Denmark

A PhD position is available in the Protein Glycoscience and Biotechnology group, Protein Chemistry and Enzyme Technology section at the Department of Biotechnology and Biomedicine. A major focus of this group, headed by Prof. Maher Abou Hachem, is to perform impactful and pioneering work on understanding the molecular basis of glycan utilisation by key members of the human gut microbiota and to develop biotechnological application for enzymes from this ecological niche.

The PhD research project is a collaboration with blood group expert Prof. Martin L. Olsson (Lund University, Lund Sweden) and expert on structural biology Prof. Jens Preben Morth from DTU-Bioengineering. The project goal is the discovery and engineering of enzymes for the conversion of red blood cell antigens to the universal group O. This will involve molecular biology, recombinant protein production and purification, enzymology, structural biology analyses, and bioinformatics.

Responsibilities and tasks
This is a position for you, if you:

  • Are highly talented, very ambitious, hard working student who thrives in an environment of scientific excellence
  • Appreciate working on a high impact cross-disciplinary collaborative project with potential to solve a global health and environmental challenge
  • Enjoy good collaborations, and the relaxed atmosphere in our groups.

Your tasks will be to:
  • Screening and discovery of suitable enzyme candidates
  • Expression and characterization of enzymes and evaluation of their specificities, molecular recognition using oligosaccharide substrates
  • Performing rational or semi-rational engineering on selected of enzymes
  • Determine the three-dimensional crystal structures of relevant enzymes and combine with bioinformatics and computational methods to decode the enzymatic mechanisms and detailed substrate specificities
  • Take part in scientific, dissemination and collaboration activities related to the project and the research group
  • Take part in teaching and supervision within protein chemistry and enzymology

Candidates should have a two-year master’s degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master’s degree.

Ideal candidates:
  • Outstanding academic record with background in biochemistry, chemistry, protein chemistry, protein engineering, biotechnology or related relevant study programmes.
  • Solid protein chemistry and/or biophysics is a key prerequisite for the position
  • Experience in carbohydrate chemistry and carbohydrate analytical techniques, such as HPAEC-PAD, MALDI-TOF, LC-MS and structural biology are major advantages
  • A basic background in bioinformatics is necessary
  • Programming/computational skills within protein modelling/docking/molecular dynamics are good assets

At least equally important, the successful candidate should have an excess of drive, be self-motivated, has an eye for details, be able to take on highly challenging tasks and work on multiple subprojects without losing focus.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.

The assessment of candidates will be made by Profs Maher Abou Hachem and Jens Preben Morth and Dr. Michael Jakob Pichler.

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

The work will be mainly carried out at the DTU Lyngby campus, but research exchange stay(s) to the labs of international collaboration partners may take place as relevant in the project.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Maher Abou Hachem, tel.: +45 4525 2732, e-mail:

You can read more about the Department of Biotechnology and Biomedicine at and about the PCET section at

Please submit your online application no later than 1 August 2020 (23:59 local time).

Apply at

The project is expected to start 1st October 2020 or close to this time.

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link “Apply online”, fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:
  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and ">Excel spreadsheet here)
  • List of publications if any
  • References

Candidates may apply prior to ob­tai­ning their master’s degree but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

DTU Bioengineering (Department of Biotechnology and Biomedicine) is an important contributor to the areas of biotechnology, food technology and human health, through the advances we make in research, technology and innovation and through the training and education of first-class MScs and PhDs in bio-engineering.

Technology for people
DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 11,500 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. Our main campus is in Kgs. Lyngby north of Copenhagen and we have campuses in Roskilde and Ballerup and in Sisimiut in Greenland.

Please apply via recruiter’s website.