Fully funded PhD Position: Novel slow-growing bacteria as causative agents of implant-associated infections.

Fully funded PhD Position: Novel slow-growing bacteria as causative agents of implant-associated infections.

Graduate School of Health, Aarhus University

Aarhus, Denmark

Fully funded PhD Position: Novel slow-growing bacteria as causative agents of implant-associated infections.

The Graduate School of Health, Aarhus University is looking for a talented, ambitious and highly motivated candidate for the three-year fully financed PhD project.

Background and aim

Implant-associated infections (IAIs) are one of the major reasons for implant failure after orthopedic surgery and result in high morbidity. Around 1% of the patients who receive prosthetic joint devices will develop an IAI, and numbers of arthroplasty procedures, and subsequently of IAIs, are increasing in Scandinavia and worldwide. The diagnosis and management of IAIs are challenging for surgeons. In particular, the assignment of slow-growing Gram-positive anaerobic bacteria (SGAB) as etiological agents of IAIs is difficult. They are often overlooked due to their slow and fastidious growth; moreover, they often cause “only” low-grade, but persistent infections that lack classical symptoms. However, accurate knowledge about the IAI-causing microorganisms is critical for selecting the right treatment regimen.

We recently found novel IAI-associated SGAB species from the genera Cutibacterium, Finegoldia and Staphylococcus. Currently, nothing is known about the virulence determinants, host-interacting properties, and the inflammatory potential of these newly identified species.

Thus, the aim of the PhD project is to investigate these “elusive” SGAB, including a microbiological characterization and their impact on the host. Results of the project may cause a shift in how these challenging infections are diagnosed and treated, and, possibly, how they can be prevented.

The project plan includes the following steps:

  • Epidemiology of SGAB and elucidation of their origin by culture-dependent and -independent approaches
  • Determination of virulence factors and host-interacting traits of SGAB by genome sequencing and proteomics
  • Assessment of persistent infection-causing potential of SGAB in cell culture models
  • Determination of biofilm-forming abilities of SGAB and resistance to antibiotics
  • In vivo IAI-inducing ability of SGAB using a murine of implant-associated osteomyelitis
  • Establishment of additional models and approaches to proof the etiology of SGAB in IAIs.

Main supervisor:
Associate Professor Holger Brüggemann (brueggemann@biomed.au.dk)

Requirements and project-specific qualifications

To be considered for a PhD position, you must meet our requirements for enrolment:

  • You must have a relevant higher education degree. Your educational level will be assessed to determine whether it comply with entry requirements. If you hold a degree other than a Danish Master’s degree, it can be advisable to get your degree assessed by the Danish Agency for Science and Higher Education before you apply.
  • You must master the English language corresponding to CEFR C1-level (comparable with an ‘English B level’ in the Danish upper secondary school (‘gymnasium’). We require a test result.

Also, you must fulfill the project-specific qualifications:

  • Knowledge in sequence-based technologies and, ideally, in microbial and host genomics
  • Knowledge in microbial genetics and knock-out technologies is a plus
  • Knowledge in cell culturing
  • Knowledge in host-bacterium interactions and host inflammatory pathways is a plus
  • This is an interdisciplinary project with different clinical and scientific partners in Denmark, Sweden and Germany. Parts of the project will take place in Germany and Sweden, Thus, the PhD candidate needs to be flexible and mobile, with an international mindset.

If you do not meet the above requirements, we reserve the right to reject your application.

What we offer

We offer a competitively salaried 3-year PhD training programme covering a wide spectrum of research opportunities with access to state-of-the-art research facilities and advanced infrastructure. Professional and highly qualified researchers and lecturers will surround you in an exciting, international research environment. Also, we are committed to career development, and offer you an extensive course programme as well as access to career counselling. Get more details on which elements our PhD training programme include.

Aarhus University is a young, modern university. It is a leading public research university with global reach, covering the entire research spectrum, and is ranked in the top-100 by several influential rankings.

Conditions of employment

You will be employed as a PhD fellow in a 3-year salaried position (37 hrs per week) (FTE). Aarhus University offers attractive and flexible working conditions, and encourages a healthy balance between work and free time. The salary level is competitive and includes social benefits.

Our International Centre offers a full range of services for international PhD students, including help with practical matters, housing, social events, language courses and information sessions.
Learn more about working at Aarhus University.


Submit your application in English via our online application form.
Application deadline is 7 January 2019 at 23:59 (CEST). See application guide for details on how to apply.
Selected candidates will be invited for a (video) interview in week 9, 2019.
Earliest enrolment date is 1 April 2019 and up until six months after you receive the enrolment offer.

For further information about the graduate school or the application procedure, please contact
graduateschoolhealth@au.dk or visit our website www.phd.health.au.dk. For information about Aarhus University, please visit www.international.au.dk

Please apply via recruiter’s website.