PhD student position in Synthetic Biology for Improved Cell Factories – University of Oulu



PhD student position in Synthetic Biology for Improved Cell Factories

The SECRETERS Marie Sklodowska Curie Innovative Training Network aims to develop “ A new generation of microbial expression hosts and tools for the production of biotherapeutics and high-value enzymes ”. The project will involve extensive collaborations between 6 academic and 5 industrial participants, who are based in 6 European countries.

The SECRETERS partnership aims to bring about a step change in the production of recombinant proteins, particularly Biotherapeutics and Industrial Enzymes. Both are critical products for the EU biotechnology sector, with combined markets in excess of $140 billion p.a.; the former are essential for the treatment of major diseases whereas the latter permeate every aspect of our daily life. Many proteins in these categories pose severe problems in production, especially disulfide-bonded proteins and new format ’difficult-to-express’ proteins. SECRETERS will train a team of 15 early stage researchers (ESRs) to develop a new generation of super-producing microbial production hosts, including Escherichia coli , Bacillus species and the yeast Pichia pastoris . The project capitalizes on a series of recent innovations and involves close collaboration between 6 academic Beneficiaries, who provide world-leading expertise in redox chemistry, synthetic biology and protein expression, and 5 non-academic Beneficiaries, who include some of the world’s premier biotherapeutic and industrial enzyme companies. It will enable the biotherapeutics industry to produce challenging medicines at lower costs, resulting in new drugs and wider patient access, and allow the enzymes industry to deliver a range of powerful new products. Based on a responsible innovation approach, with clear foci on research and entrepreneurial training, SECRETERS will deliver a team of superbly-trained scientists, poised to engage in some of Europe’s most important biotechnology sectors.

We Offer

An open PhD student position is available in the field of synthetic biology for improved cell factories in the research group of Prof Lloyd Ruddock (http://www.oulu.fi/biocenter/groups/ruddock). The appointed PhD student will work within the SECRETERS ITN on developing improved systems for catalyzed disulfide bond formation in the cytoplasm of E.coli .

The University of Oulu in Northern Finland, is an international, multidisciplinary research university with a rich pool of creative and intellectual talent. The strengths of the University include broad, multidisciplinary research interests, a modern research and study environment, and wide cooperation with international research and educational institutes (

The position is located at the Faculty of Biochemistry and Molecular Medicine (FBMM) (

Description Of The Project

The project is aimed at the development of new ways to produce disulfide-bonded proteins in the E.coli cytoplasm using CyDisCo technology. 2 nd generation CyDisCo components will be developed to improve on the already high levels of target protein production, with a special focus on the generation of high yields of complex proteins with large numbers of disulfide bonds. Quantitative data on expression levels of disulfide-bonded proteins in E.coli will be generated for modelling by other ESRs in the consortium.

The ESR will participate in an extensive training programme, including secondments to industrial partners in the consortium.

The position is a fixed MCA actions ESR fellowship. This position is for 36 months . The salary will be around 3000 €/month, depending on experience. According to the ITN rules a mobility allowance and, if eligible, family allowance are included. The starting date is Sept 1, 2019, or as soon as possible thereafter.

A six-month trial period will be effective in the beginning of a contract.

Required Qualifications And Assessment

Excellent applicants with degrees and/or expertise in biochemistry, biotechnology, molecular biology or systems biology are invited. The successful applicant must hold a MSc degree in one of these fields. Candidates who have completed required courses and whose MSc thesis will be submitted by May 1 st 2019 will also be eligible.

The applicant must fulfill the criteria for admission to UniOGS:

Fluent oral and written English skills as well as good communication and teamwork skills are required.

At the date of recruitment, applicants must be in the first four years of their career and not have a doctoral degree. They can be a national of any country, but must not have resided or carried out main activity (studies, work etc) in Finland for more than12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the recruitment date.

Application Procedure

The following documents must be attached to the application (in English):

  • Curriculum vitae with the names and contact details of at least 2 referees
  • Brief description of research merits, experience and motivation
  • Copies of the MSc certificate and transcript

Applications, together with all relevant enclosures, must be submitted using the electronic application system by 30.3.2019 (link via

Selected candidates will initially be invited for an interview by Skype. Short-listed candidates will then be invited for a recruitment symposium in May 2019 in Groningen, the Netherlands, for which travel costs and accommodation will be reimbursed.

For Further Information Regarding The Filling Of This Post

Prof Lloyd Ruddock, group leader, email: lloyd.ruddock(at)oulu.fi

Tiina Hurskainen, HR manager, email: tiina.hurskainen(at)oulu.fi