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PhD scholarship in ‘Gene Regulatory Networks; deciphering conflicting role in lineage specification and embryonic stem cell pluripotency’

Posted by , on 30 July 2015

Closing Date: 15 March 2021

A PhD scholarship investigating the “the role of lineage specifiers in regulating pluripotency” is offered by the Brickman Lab with in Danish Stem Cell Centre (DanStem) as part of StemPhys.

StemPhys is a new interdisciplinary initiative joining forces of physics and stem cell biology with the goal of advancing our knowledge of stem cell commitment and controlling the differentiation process. Six core groups at the University of Copenhagen constitute StemPhys, three in stem cell and developmental biology from DanStem, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences and three groups covering both theoretical and experimental physics, from the Niels Bohr Institute, Faculty of Science. StemPhys is financed by the Danish National Research Foundation for a period of 6 years and commenced on April 1st 2015. Details can be found at

DanStem is an international center with in the faculty of Health and Medical Sciences focused on stem cell biology. It was founded three years ago based on a grant from the Novo Nordic Foundation that enabled the recruitment of leading laboratories from abroad to Denmark and bringing them together with some of international leaders already in Denmark. DanStem is the world biggest concentration of groups working on stem cells associated with visceral organ development and homeostasis. It is also rapidly becoming an international center for the study of gene regulation in differentiation and disease. DanStem is currently made up of nine research groups, five of whom were recruited from outside Denmark. Any student hired under this project would be enrolled into DanStem’s PhD program.

The PhD studentship will be based with in the Brickman laboratory and will follow up on their observations about the relevance of lineage priming and ESC heterogeneity in early differentiation.

Project description:
Embryonic Stem Cells (ESCs) are genetically normal, immortal cell lines with the capacity to become any cell type in the future organism. This project will explore the role of signaling and transcription factor networks known to regulate the self-renewal of ESCs in early embryonic differentiation. Can a pluripotent state be explained by simplifying blocking signaling? This project will follow up our recent observations that pluripotency is supported, in part, by inhibiting primitive endoderm differentiation via the Erk pathway (Brickman and Hamilton, Cell Reports 2014). We will now extend this studies to explore signaling downstream of other early embryonic pathways, Gsk3beta, Notch and LIF. We will explore the consequence of signal strength and duration for both differentiation and the maintenance of ESCs. We will characterize the emergent gene regulatory network downstream of each of these pathways using inducible systems and identifying the functional differences between the extent of signaling that supports lineage priming with in the ESC state and signaling known to promote differentiation. Finally, this project will test the hypothesis that this network is conserved in species with extensive extra-embryonic development and identify the conserved members of the ESC pluripotency network that are exploited by other more primitive species of embryos with basal positions in vertebrate evolution.

• Candidates are required to have a master’s degree in biology, biochemistry, medicine or human biology, or similar, and a general understanding of developmental and/or stem cell biology.
• Strong motivation and very good scientific skills are essential.
• Publications and practical experience are considered an advantage.
• Good communication skills, both oral and written.

Employment Conditions: 
The successful candidate will be offered a full-time PhD Research Position in the Danstem PhD Training Scheme that upon successful completion of formal PhD study culminates in the award of a PhD. Employment as a PhD student is conditioned upon a positive assessment of the candidate´s research performance and enrollment in the Graduate School at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. The PhD study must be completed in accordance with the ministerial orders from the Ministry of Education on the PhD degree and the University´s rules on achieving the degree. Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with the provisions of the collective agreement between the Danish Government and AC (the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations). In addition to the basic salary a monthly contribution to a pension fund is added (17.1% of the salary).

For further information contact Professor Joshua Brickman by e-mail to
Foreign applicants may find the following links useful: (International Staff Mobility) and

The application must be submitted in English, by clicking on “Apply online” below, and must include the following:

• Application detailing the basis on which the applicant wishes his or her scientific, teaching and other qualifications to be assessed
• Curriculum vitae
• Diplomas – all relevant certificates
• Other information for consideration, e.g. list of publications (if any), letters of recommendation

The application will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 284 of 25 April 2008 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities.

Application procedure:
After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the Appointments Committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an expert assessment committee. Selected applicants are notified of the composition of the committee and each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself. You can read about the recruitment process at

The University of Copenhagen encourages all interested in this post to apply.

Please submit the application with the required attachments. Only online applications will be accepted. The closing date for applications is 23.59pm, August 22nd 2015.

Application link can be found at

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