PhD Candidate, Single-Molecule Analysis of Transcription in Chromatin

University of Leiden – Leiden Institute of Physics and the Netherlands Cancer Institute

The Faculty of Science, Leiden Institute of Physics and the Netherlands Cancer Institute are looking for a PhD candidate, single-molecule analysis of transcription in chromatin (1.0 FTE).

Key responsibilities
Transcription in single cells is a stochastic process that arises from the random collision of molecules, resulting in heterogeneity in gene expression in cell populations. Yet it is highly regulated. Single-cell studies have shown that transcription occurs in bursts, with periods of high gene activity followed by periods of inactivity, contributing to cell-to-cell variability. However, the mechanism and regulation of this bursting remain largely unknown. In this project, we aim to elucidate its origin by testing the hypothesis that bursting is caused by differences in the composition and structure of chromatin. By combining live cell imaging of single RNA molecules with detailed ex vivo structural analysis of the chromatin locus that contains the gene, you will dissect which chromatin configurations are permissive for transcription, leading to a mechanistic insight into the role of chromatin in transcription regulation. The candidate will be embedded on an equal basis in both the lab of John van Noort at Leiden University and the lab of Tineke Lenstra at the Netherlands Cancer Institutes. At both places you will be exposed to a stimulating and interactive research environment and use of all state-of-the-art facilities.

We are looking for a PhD candidate for a joined position in Prof. John van Noort's (Leiden University) and Dr. Tineke Lenstra’s teams (Netherlands Cancer Institute). The successful candidate will optimize and utilize protocols to isolate chromatin templates from cells. You will learn and apply cutting-edge single-molecule force spectroscopy and live-cell single-molecule imaging techniques and you are expected to effectively report your results in work discussions, conferences and journals.

Selection criteria

  • We are looking for a highly motivated and talented PhD student with a strong interest in interdisciplinary research and a strong drive to solve complex biological problems;
  • A background in molecular biology, cell biology or biochemistry with a proven affinity for biophysics;
  • Good study results, communication skills, and the ability to work in a team are essential.

Research at our Faculty/Institute
The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are driven by curiosity to expand fundamental knowledge and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future.

The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, computer science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organised in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programmes. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 1,300 staff and almost 4,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.

Terms and conditions
We offer a full-time one year term position with the possibility of three-year renewal after a positive evaluation. Salary range from €2,222 to €2,840 gross per month (pay scale P, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3%), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.

Enquiries can be made to Prof. John van Noort and/or Dr. Tineke Lenstra.

See also “Further information”.
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If you are interested, please send by email a letter of motivation including 3 people that can be approached as references, your transcripts and a CV including your research experience to Yvonne Kerkhof via the blue apply button.

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* Salary has been converted at the prevailing rate on the date placed