PhD Student - Functional Analysis of UHRF1 (f/m/d)

Helmholtz Zentrum München - German Research Center for Environmental Health (HMGU)

Neuherberg (bei München), Germany

Work group:

Institute of Functional Epigenetics

Area of research:

PHD Thesis

Starting date:


Contract time limit:


Job description:

As German Research Center for Environmental Health, Helmholtz Zentrum München pursues the goal of developing personalized medical approaches for the prevention and therapy of major common diseases such as diabetes mellitus, allergies and lung diseases. To achieve this, it investigates the interaction of genetics, environmental factors and lifestyle.

At our institute you will find a scientifically stimulating international environment. Together with renowned scientists and supported by an excellent infrastructure you make an important contribution to the improvement of people’s quality of life. 

The Institute of Functional Epigenetics is interested in how genes are packaged within the nucleus of a cell. The focus is on the so-called "histone proteins" on which the DNA strands are wound and that can determine whether a gene can be read or not. In addition, we are examining the connections between common diseases and distortions in DNA packing. We utilize cutting edge methods that enable us to follow changes of these processes even in individual cells.

For a new research project we are looking for a

PhD Student – Functional Analysis of UHRF1 (f/m/d)

The Mission

In a new research collaboration the groups of Dr. Till Bartke (Institute for Functional Epigenetics, Helmholtz Center Munich) and Dr. Sebastian Bultmann (Faculty of Biology, Ludwig Maximilians University Munich) aim to study the function of the epigenetic reader / writer and E3-ubiquitin ligase UHRF1, a key player in maintaining DNA methylation.

DNA methylation plays a central role in the control of gene expression and in maintaining genomic stability. Anomalies in DNA methylation are linked to many inherited (e.g. ICF or Prader-Willi syndromes) and sporadic (e.g. dementia and cancer) human diseases.
During each round of DNA replication the genome becomes hemi-methylated, and it is converted back to its fully methylated status by the maintenance methyltransferase DNMT1. DNA methylation by DNMT1 critically depends on ubiquitylation of histone H3 by UHRF1. In a collaboration between the Bartke and the Bultmann groups in Munich we want to investigate how UHRF1 ubiquitylates precisely the lysine residues in histone H3 that are recognized by DNMT1 (project 1), and we want to identify new parts of UHRF1 that are required for its function (project 2). Project 1 will be addressed in the Bartke group at the institute of Functional Epigenetics at the Helmholtz Zentrum München, and we are now inviting applications for a PhD to investigate the E3 ubiquitin ligase mechanism of UHRF1 via chemical biology, chromatin biochemistry, and structural cryo electron microscopy (cryo-EM) approaches.

Your Qualification

We are looking for candidates with experience in biochemical and structural biology techniques who have a strong interest in applying cutting edge technologies to gain an integrated understanding of the molecular functions of UHRF1, an essential regulator of DNA methylation with clear relevance to human health. Candidates should have a M.Sc. (or equivalent) in Biochemistry, Molecular, Structural, or Cell Biology. We particularly encourage applications from highly motivated, open-minded individuals who are able to work in a team.  

What we offer

A challenging and versatile field of work providing you with the freedom to follow your instinct and be creative. With the help of extensive and goal-orientated professional development measures and career-building programmes we encourage you to grow as a person. To ensure a good work/life balance we assist you with flexible working hours, in-house health management, a nursery, and an “Elder Care” concept as well as other consultation and support options.

This position also provides the opportunity for you to build specialist knowledge and collect significant professional experience, both of which will help advance your scientific career.

Munich, with its numerous lakes and its vicinity to the Alps, is considered to be one of the cities with the best quality of life worldwide. With its first-class universities and research institutes it offers an intellectually stimulating environment.

Remuneration and benefits are in accordance with the collective agreement for the public service (EG 13 50% TV EntgO Bund). In addition, there is also the possibility of granting an allowance amounting to 15% if the necessary conditions are fulfilled.

The position is (initially) limited to three years.

Having been awarded the "Total E-Quality" seal we endorse a system of equal opportunities. Applications from women are especially welcome. Severely disabled candidates are given preference if they are of equal merit concerning the position in question.

Curious? If you have further questions, simply contact Thomas Gerling on 089 3187-43691, who will be happy to be of assistance.

We are looking forward to receiving your comprehensive online application including a detailed curriculum vitae, an application letter with a brief statement of interest, and contact information for two referees.

Please apply via recruiter’s website.

Quote Reference: 2020/0030