PhD Position: Revealing Protein Binding Dynamics Using Time-Resolved Diffraction Experiments at SwissFEL (P1904)

100% positions for 4 years, earliest starting date: 1. January 2020

The Swiss Nanoscience Institute (SNI) at the University of Basel invites highly motivated scientists to apply for the SNI PhD program in Nanoscience.

Your position

The successful applicant for this project will work at the PSI and at the University of Basel and will be supported by teams at both places. As protein crystallographic data collection critically depends on the sample preparation, we will first concentrate on the fabrication of sample holders to accommodate the crystalline samples, enclose them between ultrathin X-ray transparent films and provide access for the optical laser which are used to trigger the binding of a caged cofactor to the protein of interest. For typical measurements, we will need a few hundreds of support structures, which means that they must be mass-fabricated using silicon or polymer technologies. The nanotechnology lab at PSI will support the student in designing and fabricating the holders used for this specific study. Furthermore, the PSI nanotechnology lab is well linked to Macromolecular Crystallography Group at PSI with access to the PX beamlines and to SwissFEL. The PhD student will be involved in measurement campaigns in order to learn all the measurement techniques and data evaluation strategies before his/her own experiments at SwissFEL. With the help of the team at Uni Basel, the student will synthesize photocaged derivatives, and perform their characterization, crystallization and co-crystallization experiments. In the later phase of the project, he/she will design and produce and optimize by directed evolution new variants of the cofactor that allow addressing specific characteristics of streptavidin binding.

Your profile

For this highly interdisciplinary project, we are looking for a PhD student holding a master's degree in science or engineering, with experience in protein crystallography, nanofabrication technology and/or peptide synthesis and modification, and with a keen interest in method development for experiments at state-of-the art large scale facilities in order to address fundamental biochemical questions.

We offer you

  • Excellent scientific and social environment
  • Very competitive employment conditions
  • Membership in a very supportive and recognised community

The successful candidate will join an attractive interdisciplinary programme together with the ~30 currently supported scientists. The SNI covers a wide variety of topics, including cutting edge quantum physics and chemistry, material science, nanotechnology, biochemistry, cell biology, or medical research.

Application / Contact

More information and the online application platform can be found at For questions please contact the head of the SNI PhD programme, Dr. Andreas Baumgartner (, or directly the respective project leaders. The complete application has to be submitted before 31 December 2019. Please note that the decision to fill a given vacancy can be taken at any time from now.