PhD position in “Modeling and Simulation of Chemical Senses”

Forschungszentrum Jülich - FZJ - Helmholtz Association

Jülich, Germany

Work group:

IAS-5 - Computational Biomedicine


Area of research:

PHD Thesis


Starting date:

1523514669


Contract time limit:

1523514669


Job description:

PI: Jr.-Prof. Mercedes Alfonso-Prieto

Aim and Scope: Mammals have developed mechanisms to communicate chemical information from the environment inside the cell and provide an evolutionary advantage in avoiding or seeking the chemical signatures of foods, mates, toxins. In humans, chemosensation is mediated by two different sensory systems: the olfactory and the taste systems. They are involved in the perception of the aroma and flavor of food and beverages and they act as a warning system against toxic substances. In addition, chemosensory receptors are found in many different tissues, besides the tongue and the nose. These include the respiratory system, the gastrointestinal tract, the endocrine system, and the brain. Hence, these receptors play different roles other than chemical senses. However, the lack of experimental structural information on these receptors is completely lacking, thus hampering a complete characterization of the molecular mechanisms underlying chemosensation. Molecular modeling and simulations can fill this gap by providing important hints on the structural determinants of odorant and tastant recognition, as well as on the endogenous compounds detected by chemosensory receptors outside the nose and the tongue.

The computational research will be mainly carried out at the Forschungszentrum Jülich, which is one of the largest research centers in Germany, with excellent scientific equipment and leading European computational resources, located on a green campus, and near the cultural centers Köln, Düsseldorf, and Aachen.

The suitable candidate for this position is an outstanding, motivated young scientist, who holds a master in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, Physics or related disciplines. Excellent knowledge of the English language (both written and oral) is required. Familiarity with the Unix operating, as well as with basic tools from molecular modeling and simulation, is a plus. We offer a Ph.D position in a creative and international environment with the opportunity to work in a unique interdisciplinary team. Payment of the Ph.D fellow will be based on salary grade EG 13 (50%) Collective Agreement for the Civil Service (TVöD).


Please apply via recruiter’s website.

Quote Reference: Helmholtz-D075/2018

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