PhD position in the field of in vitro single-molecule biophysics to investigate the regulation of SARS-CoV-2 replication and...

PhD position in the field of in vitro single-molecule biophysics to investigate the regulation of SARS-CoV-2 replication and...

Published Deadline Location
16 Sep 23 Oct Amsterdam

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The Dulin lab offers one fully funded PhD position for 4 years to start as soon as possible in the field of in vitro single-molecule biophysics to investigate the regulation of SARS-CoV-2 replication and transcription. Please apply at Vrije Universitei...

Job description

The selected candidate will investigate how SARS-CoV-2 replicates and transcribes its genome using in vitro single-molecule biophysics techniques, e.g. magnetic tweezers and fluorescence microscopy. To this end, the PhD candidate will be embedded in a world-class scientific environment for biophysics, with access to a state-of-the-art microscopy facility, including magnetic tweezers, optical tweezers, and diverse fluorescence microscopy approaches. As daily tasks, the student will design, perform, and analyze biophysics experiments in collaboration with other students and postdocs in the lab. The candidate will also collaborate with world-renowned experts labs in molecular and structural biology of coronaviruses.

The recent SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has shown how fragile humankind is when facing a highly infectious virus in absence of antiviral therapeutics. The main antiviral target for drugs is the molecular machinery responsible for synthesizing all viral RNAs in the infected cell. This machinery is a large multiprotein complex called the replication-transcription complex (RTC). How the RTC assembles and how its composition regulates viral RNAs synthesis remain unclear, impeding the development of specific drugs. The goal of this thesis is to decipher the mechanism of assembly of the RTC, how its composition impacts its function, and whether the genome sequence regulates viral replication and transcription, all using single-molecule biophysics approaches.


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


  • A M.Sc. degree in one of the following fields: biophysics, physics, biotechnology, nanoscience, or a related discipline
  • A quantitative mindset with interests in working at the intersection of biochemistry, physics, and enzymology
  • A creative and collaborative approach to science and a strong work ethic
  • Experience or a keen interest in in vitro single-molecule biophysics.
  • Experience or a keen interest in computer programming for data analysis.

The candidate will successfully develop and combine different aspects of physics, biology, and software programming. They will 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 spoken and written) 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 €2,770 (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:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 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
  • 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 31,000 students. We employ over 5,000 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
Working at the Faculty of Science means working together with students, PhD candidates and scientists who are focused on their discipline, yet also have a broad view of the world. We are proud of the collegial working environment within the faculty, which is characterised by an ambitious and pragmatic attitude with commitment to the bigger picture. At the Faculty of Science, scientists and students work on fundamental and complex social issues for a sustainable and healthy future. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to malnutrition, from genetics to pharmaceuticals and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research cover the full breadth of the natural sciences. Scientific teaching and research is highly experimental, technical, computational and interdisciplinary in nature. This is why we collaborate extensively with leading research institutes and industry. The faculty has over 11,000 students studying across 40 educational programmes and employs over 1,600 staff spread over 10 scientific departments, making us the largest science faculty in the Netherlands.
The Dulin lab is hosted by VU Amsterdam (, one of the best universities in the Netherlands, located in the vibrant and international city of Amsterdam. Our team is an inclusive and diverse group of scientists, welcoming excellent students from all backgrounds. We are embedded within the Physics of Living System Section of the Physics and Astronomy Department at VU. Together with several other biophysics lab, we form a world-class environment in biophysics, specifically in single-molecule biophysics. The Dulin lab is internationally renown for 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 viral and cellular RNA synthesis and regulation. They 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. They will also benefit from the support of an experienced staff in molecular biology, biochemistry and data analysis, and international expert in coronavirus biology and theoretical biophysics. They 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
  • 16086


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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De Boelelaan 1105, 1081HV, Amsterdam

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