PhD-student: Visualizing ribosome translation at the single-molecule level.

PhD-student: Visualizing ribosome translation at the single-molecule level.

Published Deadline Location
20 Apr 1 Jul Amsterdam

Job description

Fascinated by the remarkable dynamics of protein function and cutting-edge biophysics technology? Owing to recent breakthroughs, it is just now becoming possible to follow the internal action of the most intricate biomolecules. Our group has pioneered the study of increasingly large chaperone-protein complexes at the level of individual molecules. Our excitement lies in seeing their dynamic behavior for the very first time, and to hence reveal how and why they perform their functions and enable the critical cellular processes that underpin life. Previously, we have shown how proteins can be clamped, confined, and processively pulled on by protein processing machines, in order to fold proteins and suppress protein aggregation and disease. Our focus now and the coming years is on ubiquitin-mediated protein processing machines and ribosomes – one of the most complex and crucial biomolecules in our cells.

In this project, you will develop a new approach to directly follow the dynamics of protein translation by ribosomes – in real time. Our plan is to directly visualize the action of individual ribosomes, hundreds at a time. This will unlock new possibilities in studying key events of ribosome translation, including pausing, nascent chain folding, interactions between ribosomes, and protein-protein assembly. This very first look may well also reveal a host of unexpected phenomena. You will drive the conceptual development of new experimental schemes, the use of cutting-edge single-molecule fluorescence and manipulation methods, the adaptation of existing biochemical protocols, the automated analysis of complex data, the formulation of new models, and the writing of scientific papers that explain your findings. We have a lively and close-knit research group of about 10 PhD students and postdocs, which work together in small teams on various projects in a highly supportive and social atmosphere that extends to the other research groups at the AMOLF institute, which is housed in a modern building in the east of Amsterdam.

What makes this project also special is that it is part of a larger collaboration with leading groups at Heidelberg University and the ETH in Zurich, which use novel sequencing and cryo-EM methods. By integrating these methods, we aim to push the limits of technical possibility, and to provide insights of unprecedented detail, spanning from the cellular to the atomic level, from in vivo to in vitro, from genome-wide patterns to molecular mechanisms, and from bacteria to human cells. This initiative is motivated by our recent discovery that multiple ribosomes cooperate to actively drive protein-complex formation, and the now urgent need to elucidate the underlying mechanisms and scope throughout the cell. As a member of this team, you will therefore also become intimately familiar with a wide range of methods which will be critical to advances in protein science in the coming decades.




We are looking for several outstanding experimental physicists or chemists with an interest in single-molecule techniques, programming skills to handle complex data, and who will thrive in a diverse and collaborative environment. Excellent verbal and written English skills are essential. You meet the requirements for an MSc-degree to ensure eligibility for a Dutch PhD examination.

Conditions of employment

The position is intended as full-time (40 hours / week, 12 months / year) appointment in the service of the Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research Institutes (NWO-I) for the duration of four years, with a starting salary of gross € 2,590 per month and a range of employment benefits. After successful completion of the PhD research a PhD degree will be granted at Delft University of Technology. Several courses are offered, specially developed for PhD-students. AMOLF assists any new foreign PhD-student with housing and visa applications and compensates their transport costs and furnishing expenses.



Additional information

Prof. dr. ir. Sander Tans
Phone: +31-(0)20-754 7100


Please feel free to send any informal enquiry about our group, this or other projects in our lab, or any other matter related to this ad.

You can respond to this vacancy online via the button below.
Please annex your: 
–  Resume; 
–  Motivation on why you want to join the group (max. 1 page). 

It is important to us to know why you want to join our team. Hence, we will only consider your application if it entails your motivation letter.

Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis and as soon as an excellent match is made, the position will be filled.

Online screening may be part of the selection.

AMOLF is highly committed to an inclusive and diverse work environment, and we greatly encourage candidates from any personal background and perspective to apply. AMOLF has won the NNV Diversity Award 2022, which is awarded every two years by the Netherlands Physical Society for demonstrating the most successful implementation of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

Commercial activities in response to this ad are not appreciated.

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Application procedure

Application procedure

Make sure to apply no later than 1 Jul 2023 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).