Two fixed term PhD student positions in Cell Biology at Åbo Akademi University starting 1.4.2019 (or according to agreement)



Åbo Akademi University is an internationally acknowledged research university with an extensive responsibility for providing education in Swedish in Finland. The activities cover research and education in most disciplines from natural sciences and technology, humanities, pedagogics and theology, to business and social sciences.

Åbo Akademi University invites applications for a fixed term position as a PhD Student in Cell Biology starting 1.4.2019 within SPACE-Project (42 months) and within BACE-Project (48 months)

Research group

The Cell Fate lab led by Professor Cecilia Sahlgren is focused on the fundamental molecular mechanisms that guide cell fate and cell organization in stem cell differentiation, tissue formation and in disease such as cancer. Together with collaborators we utilize such knowledge to develop material-based medical technologies to control these mechanisms in regenerative and cancer therapies. Coordination of cells through molecular cell signaling pathways is crucial for the formation of functional tissues and signaling is often deregulated in diseases such as cancer, allowing cells to acquire abnormal functions and pathological remodeling of tissue architecture. The physical, mechanical and chemical stimuli of the microenvironment also influence cell signaling and cell fate decisions during development and disease progression.

Project description

We are seeking 2 ambitious PhD candidates to join our projects on Spatiotemporal activation of cell functions (SPACE) 1.4.2019-31.8.2022 or Bioelectronic activation of cell functions (BACE) 1.4.2019-28.2.2023. These projects form an interdisciplinary approach bringing together researchers within experimental physics and molecular biology, in order to activate Notch signalling on demand. The Notch signalling pathway is a seemingly simple signalling system where the interaction between a ligand at the surface of one cell and a receptor at the surface of another gives rise to one active signalling fragment, which regulates target gene expression. Notch is involved in cell fate specification during development, usually by facilitating binary cell fate decisions or by maintaining stem cell fate. Perturbation of the signalling cascade is a contributing factor in the development of various diseases. Strictly organised, both spatial and temporal, expression of different receptors and ligands is essential for proper development of different organs, with each consecutive activation of Notch driving a specific morphogenic process. The possibility of controlling Notch receptor activation by regulating ligand dose and the specific timing of activation will enable us to better understand different developmental patterns.


We are accepting applications from enthusiastic and highly talented candidates who are interested in a dynamic, stimulating and ambitious environment to perform their research and share their scientific knowledge.

We are looking for candidates that meet the following requirements

•The candidate should have a MSc in molecular biology, cell biology, or an equivalent area

Personal qualities

We are seeking a driven and pro-active applicant with good communication and interpersonal skills. The applicant should be confident in working independently, but value developing good working relationships both within the research group and with collaborators. Knowledge of basic cell and molecular biological techniques (e.g. mammalian cell culture, Western Blotting, PCR) is required. Knowledge in e.g. biophysics, synthetic biology, chemistry or engineering (with strong molecular background) is an asset.


We offer

•A challenging job at a dynamic and ambitious environment and in an enthusiastic international, interdisciplinary team.

•Access to world class infrastructure in proteomics, metabolomics, functional genomics, bioinformatics and bioimaging.

•Support with your personal development and career planning.

•Gross monthly salary is in accordance with the salary system of Finnish universities based on levels 2 – 4 of the job demand level for teaching and research personnel. In addition, a salary component based on personal work performance is paid.

•Doctoral training programme at Åbo Akademi University


The salary for PhD Student is in accordance with the Finnish University salary system for teaching and research personnel job demand levels 2-4, where the work specific salary component is 2011,17-2507,62€ per month. In addition, there is a salary component based on personal work performance, which is at most 50.00% of the base salary.


Please submit your electronic application with enclosures below (Submit application, www.abo.fi/jobb). The closing date for applications is March 19th, 2019 at 15.00 Finnish time.

A free-format letter of application (in English)

  1. Copies of the bachelor’s and master’s degree diplomas, including the study record (with grades)
  2. Your CV (in English)
  3. Copies of documents that support the candidates English language skills
  4. Recommendation letter or contact details to references


For further information, please contact professor Cecilia Sahlgren, group leader, Cell Biology, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Åbo Akademi University, e-mail: cecilia.sahlgren@abo.fi or Marika Sjöqvist, PhD, marika.sjoqvist@abo.fi

Åbo Akademi University
The Åbo Akademi profiling research areas include Molecular Process and Materials Technology, Minority Research, The Sea and Drug Development and Diagnostics (https://www.abo.fi/en/about-abo-akademi-research-profiling/). Within the Drug Development and Diagnostics, several departments at ÅAU and University of Turku co-operate on topics such as cancer, regenerative medicine, inflammation and cardiovascular disease with close links to health care and industry.

Åbo Akademi University is working for equal gender distribution and diversity in all staff categories.