PhD position in RNA chemical biology (1.0 FTE)

PhD position in RNA chemical biology (1.0 FTE)

Published Deadline Location
19 Jan 13 Feb Utrecht

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Join our team to develop photochemical probes to study how RNA localization and structure imprint their biological functions, and develop drugs to target them!

Job description

Ribonucleic acid (RNA) performs many important biological functions. We design new photochemical reactions to label it, and we are doing it in the smallest, but the most complex reaction vessel – cells. Why do we do this? Because we want to investigate where in the cell certain RNAs are located, what structures they fold into, and what their partners are. All these factors govern how an RNA execute its functions in a cell. Our ambition is to run the reactions just for once, but get to know the answers to the above questions for hundreds or thousands of RNAs in one goal! Next-Gen sequencing technology will help us get there. These fundamental understandings of how RNA functions will ultimately lead to the development of novel therapeutics.

Apart from the studies into the fundamental aspects, we will also develop small molecule drugs that target RNA. Furthermore, many protein-targeting small molecules can bind to RNA, likely giving rise to unwanted adverse effects. However, these off-target effects remain largely uncharacterized, which is in dire need in drug development to comprehensively understand the mechanism of action of the drug molecules. By joining the team as PhD candidate, you will help us answer important questions in this research field such as:

  • Can we develop a modular approach to characterize RNA-binding activities of any existing protein-targeting drugs, in a high-throughput manner?
  • How can we re-purpose protein-targeting small molecules for selective RNA-targeting?
  • What are the RNA-specific/selective pharmacophores, if any?
  • Can we design de novo an RNA-targeting small molecule with a desired function to therapeutically intervene biological processes?


Utrecht University


We are looking for a candidate who meets the following requirements:

  • a completed master’s degree in medicinal chemistry, organic chemistry, chemical biology or related fields;
  • experience with (bio)organic chemistry;
  • preferably, experience with cell culture or RNA-related work or Next-Gen sequencing;
  • proactive, motivated, and passionate for science;
  • proficiency in English, both in speech and writing.

Conditions of employment

  • a full-time position for 4 years;
  • a full-time gross salary starting at €2,541 in the first year and increasing to €3,247 in the fourth year (scale P Collective Labor Agreement Dutch Universities (cao));
  • 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labor Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition to the employment conditions laid down in the CAO for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has several additional arrangements. For example, there are agreements on professional development, leave arrangements and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment yourself via the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we like to encourage you to continue to grow.

For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.


A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

At the Faculty of Science, there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes that work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects. Find out more about the Faculty of Science.

The research will be performed at the Utrecht Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences (UIPS), which is located at the Utrecht University Campus.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • 38—40 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1203636



Padualaan 8, 3584 CH, Utrecht

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