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PhD Student (Group Dr. Jinghui Luo, Paul Scherrer Institut & Sebastian Hiller, Biozentrum)

The Paul Scherrer Institute PSI is the largest research institute for natural and engineering sciences within Switzerland. We perform cutting-edge research in the fields of future technologies, energy and climate, health innovation and fundamentals of nature. By performing fundamental and applied research, we work on sustainable solutions for major challenges facing society, science and economy. PSI is committed to the training of future generations. Therefore, about one quarter of our staff are post-docs, post-graduates or apprentices. Altogether, PSI employs 2200 people.

We are seeking a highly motivated PhD candidate to investigate the role of metallic nanoparticles in amyloid aggregation that leads to neurodegenerative disease. The successful candidate will be employed by the PSI and will be enrolled within the graduate school of the Swiss Nanoscience institute at University of Basel. This interdisciplinary and collaborative project, led by the Luo and Hiller labs at PSI and Biozentrum, University of Basel. The project aims to unravel how metal ions cause amyloid proteins to aggregate and condense, leading to the creation of metallic nanoparticles with a zero-oxidation state. The ultimate goal is to gain insights for the development of new therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases.

This is an exciting opportunity to contribute to cutting-edge research in the field of neurodegenerative diseases and metal-protein interactions. The successful candidate will have access to state-of-the-art facilities and resources, as well as the opportunity to collaborate with experts in the field. If you are passionate about unraveling the mysteries of neurodegenerative diseases and making a meaningful impact on healthcare, we encourage you to apply. You will be embedded at the interface of two research groups, in a highly stimulating collaborative research environment. Both the PSI and the Biozentrum Basel feature fantastic infrastructure including state-of-the-art technology platforms for cutting-edge interdisciplinary research, as well as a lively scientific community.

Your tasks

  • Evaluate metal elements, metallic nanoparticles in postmortem brain tissues of individuals with neurodegenerative diseases by using X-ray microspectroscopy and energy SEM-dispersive X-ray (EDX) analysis 
  • Investigate how amyloid proteins, particularly Alzheimer's Aβ and Parkinson's α-synuclein, induce the formation of metallic nanoparticles in coacervation through the use of biophysical techniques such as NMR spectroscopy and Xray absorption spectroscopy
  • Characterize the cellular toxicity and potentially harmful effects of metallic nanoparticles and metal-protein coacervates using cell viability assays and other biochemical assays
  • Collaborate with other group members, utilizing the facilities and resources available at the PSI and Biozentrum Basel
  • Co-supervise and co-support master and bachelor students
  • Present work at international conferences/workshops and publish work

Your profile

  • Good background in protein aggregation, amyloid research, or metal-protein interactions
  • Experience with biophysical techniques such as NMR spectroscopy or soft X-ray absorption spectroscopy
  • Knowledge of neurodegenerative diseases and their molecular mechanisms
  • Ability to work independently as well as collaboratively in a multidisciplinary team
  • Excellent communication and scientific writing skills

We offer
Our institution is based on an interdisciplinary, innovative and dynamic collaboration. You will profit from a systematic training on the job, in addition to personal development possibilities and our pronounced vocational training culture. If you wish to optimally combine work and family life or other personal interests, we are able to support you with our modern employment conditions and the on-site infrastructure.

For further information, please contact Dr Jinghui Luo, phone +41 56 310 47 64.

Please submit your application online by 7 December 2023 (including addresses of referees) for the position as a PhD Student (index no. 2411-00).

Paul Scherrer Institut, Human Resources Management, Silja Giacomini-Diebold, 5232 Villigen PSI, Switzerland

Apply online now