Oslo University Hospital (OUS)

Postdoctoral fellowship – Study electrophysiology in psychiatric disorders using human induced pluripotent stem cells

Oslo University Hospital (OUS)

Oslo, Norway

The Division of Mental health and Addiction, Psychosis Research Unit, Oslo University Hospital and Centre of Excellence The Norwegian Centre for Mental Disorders Research (NORMENT) offer a 3 year postdoctoral fellowship position. The postdoctoral fellow will be affiliated with the Psychiatric Molecular Genetics Group at the Department of Medical Genetics. 


NORMENT runs a multicenter study involving all psychiatric hospital departments in Oslo and several research groups at the University of Oslo. The purpose of the programme is to study how biological/genetic, psychological and environmental factors contribute to severe mental disorders. NORMENT has used its infrastructure for clinical evaluations, neuropsychological testing, MRI brain imaging and biobanking to collect a large database. Specifically, we have collected a large number of genetic and electroencephalography (EEG) data, as well as skin biopsies on patients with schizophrenia (SCZ) and bipolar disorder (BD), and the current project is based on the emerging cell culture technology of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs). Human cell-based models can be ideal experimental paradigms with which to investigate several key disease mechanisms, such as synapse dynamics, receptor interaction, electrophysiological properties and thus provide a new avenue in our understanding of psychiatric disorders. However, whether these novel models can predict live brain function remains to be clarified. 


Project 

The application of iPSCs is an emerging trend in science, and offers an excellent way to study the background of SCZ and BD. By performing cell-based iPSC studies, this project aims to identify and characterize molecular and cellular mechanisms and phenotypes that are responsible for the symptoms and predisposition of these disorders. Major goals include further development of our human iPSCs cell culture systems exploring the role of recently identified common and rare genetic factors in SCZ and BP related to neuronal excitability and synaptic communication. Moreover, we will investigate whether the iPSC-based systems can reflect excitability and synaptic communication in the live brain, as measured with EEG. By elucidating the underlying cellular/molecular mechanisms in SCZ/BD, this project may have a major impact in both basic science and clinical medicine. 


Job description 

The current project represents pioneering efforts to understand the important interaction between genes and neuronal excitability using an appropriate iPSC model. This project aims at experimental methodologies that will include electrophysiological characterization (single-cell intrinsic properties and synaptic communication using double patch) and 2-photon calcium imaging in acute slices and in vivo. Functional characterization will be complemented by structural analysis, post hoc immunolabeling, and expression assays. Additional phenotyping will also be performed in cell culture. The candidate will join the group experienced with iPSC differentiation. The derived cells will be subjected to rigorous validation utilizing already established protocols. These will include transcriptome analysis, immunohistochemistry, high-end microscopy, FACS, neurite analysis, synaptic protein staining analysis and synapse density. Moreover, the candidate will assess whether functional characteristics of the iPSC model can predict EEG indices of neuronal excitability and synaptic communication in SCZ and BD. 


Requirements and qualifications 

  • The applicant must hold a PhD degree in neuroscience or equivalent, a strong PhD and a documented genuine interest in the type of project we offer. 
  • The successful candidate should document experience in patch clamp recordings (voltage clamp, current clamp, whole-cell, excised patch) and other electrophysiological methods, as well as interest to work on investigation of cellular- and molecular-level mechanisms underlying SCZ and BP. 
  • Strong background in at least one of the following is strongly desired: Cell biology/molecular biology and/or neurophysiology/electrophysiology. 
  • Background in microscopic imaging is desirable. 
  • Strong analytical and problem solving skills and attention to details. 
  • The candidate should be proficient in spoken and written English. 
  • Personal skills will be emphasized. Especially, the candidate should be able to work independently and interactively in a team setting, be motivated and responsible, and also have a great work capacity and enthusiasm for research. 


For more information about the project, please contact: 

Group leader/Professor Srdjan Djurovic, phone +47 22 11 98 90 srdjan.djurovic@medisin.uio.no 


We offer

  • An exciting research environment with a multidisciplinary profile and large opportunities for academic development. 
  • Salary according to qualifications.
  • Access to the excellent public services and welfare schemes of Norway, including generous parental leave provisions and affordable and accessible childcare.
  • A good pension scheme through the Norwegian Public Service Fund.


The application must include 

  • Application letter, including motivation for applying for the position. 
  • CV (summarizing education, positions, academic work-scientific publications and other relevant activity). 
  • A complete list of any publications and academic work. 
  • Copies of educational certificates and transcripts of records. 
  • Contact details of 2 referees (name, relation to candidate, e-mail and phone number). 


Please remember that all documents should be in English or a Scandinavian language.

Apply with CV and Cover Letter

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Position

Postdoctoral fellowship – Study electrophysiology in psychiatric disorders using human induced pluripotent stem cells