PhD position in the field of Coronavirus replication and transcription investigation using single-molecule biophysics

PhD position in the field of Coronavirus replication and transcription investigation using single-molecule biophysics

Published Deadline Location
20 Mar 31 Aug Amsterdam

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The Dulin lab has to offer one NWO funded PhD position (4 years) to start as soon as possible in the field of single-molecule biophysics to SARS-CoV-2 replication-transcription regulation. Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Job description

The successful candidates will investigate how replication and transcription in coronaviruses are regulated by viral proteins associating with the polymerase and the viral genome sequence. To this end, she/he will use state-of-the-art single molecule techniques. Within the lab, the successful candidate will design, perform experiments, and develop new computational analysis tools to analyze her/his data.

The recent SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has shown how fragile humankind is when facing such highly infectious virus in absence of antiviral treatment. To establish a successful infection, SARS-CoV-2 must replicate and transcribe its genome very efficiently in the host cell. This task is performed by the replication-transcription complex, a multi-proteins complex formed of a polymerase and viral co-factors, which is a key target for antivirals. While cryo-electron microscopy has brought many high-resolution images of the complex in different compositions, functional studies are still lacking, impairing the precise characterization of the function of such complex during infection. The goal of this thesis is to decipher the mechanism of assembly of the replication-transcription complex and its regulation during viral RNA synthesis, providing new targets for the rational design of the antiviral drugs of the future.


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


We are seeking for
  • An outstanding experimentalist with experience in physics of life, enzymology, biotechnology, soft matter physics. Candidates must have a Experience in optics, computer programming (LabVIEW, Python, Matlab, C++, etc.) and enzymology will be strongly appreciated. If not familiar with programing, the candidates will have to learn Python to analyze their data.
  • a creative, hard-working and independent individual with strong work ethic and interest in crossing research fields, and a strong ability to work in team.

The candidate will successfully develop and combine different expertise in physics, biology and software programming to establish new single-molecule assays and investigate how the coronavirus RNA synthesis machinery assembles and is regulated during viral RNA replication and transcription. Proficiency in English (both speaking and writing) is required.

Conditions of employment

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,541 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,539 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a total duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • discounts on collective insurances (healthcare- and car insurance)
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to more than 11,000 students.

The Dulin lab is located at VU Amsterdam (, one of the best universities in the Netherlands, and a leading scientific institution in biophysics located in the vibrant and international city of Amsterdam. Our team is an inclusive and diverse environment, welcoming excellent students from all backgrounds. We are embedded within the Physics of Living System Section of the Physics Department of VU, together with several other biophysics lab, constituting a uniquely thriving environment in physics of life, specifically in single-molecule biophysics. The Dulin lab has a strong expertise in investigating protein-RNA interactions, such as viral replication machinery of viruses using single molecule biophysics techniques, with several breakthrough studies on SARS-CoV-2 genome replication and antiviral drugs evaluation (Bera et al., Cell Reports 2021; Seifert et al., eLife 2021). The successful candidate will join an enthusiastic and international team of biophysicists and biochemists ready to tackle highly challenging problems related to antiviral drug discoveries. She/he will have access to a large variety of cutting-edge assays in single molecule force and fluorescence spectroscopy techniques (e.g. magnetic and optical tweezers, TIRF microscope…), and a molecular biology facility to perform their research. She/he will also benefit from the support of an experienced staff in molecular biology, biochemistry and data analysis. She/he will have the opportunity to learn from the best scientists in the field, publish in high-impact journals and present their work at international conferences.


  • PhD
  • 30.4—38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 15004


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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De Boelelaan 1105, 1081HV, Amsterdam

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