PhD Position (RNA Biology): Gene Dosage Control of Spliceosome Activity in Neurons

    International PhD Programme “Gene Regulation, Epigenetics and Genome Stability”
    Biological sciencesBiology
    First Stage Researcher (R1)
    27/11/2020 23:00 - Europe/Brussels
    Germany › Mainz


Thinking of doing your PhD in Molecular Biology? The International PhD Programme (IPP) on Gene Regulation, Epigenetics & Genome Stability is offering talented, young scientists the chance to work at the cutting edge of research. The IPP is a community of exceptional scientists working on diverse topics ranging from how organisms age or how our DNA is repaired, to how epigenetics regulates cellular identity or neural memory.

The programme is coordinated by the Institute of Molecular Biology (IMB) — a modern research centre located on the bustling campus of Mainz University in Germany. With a population of 200,000, of which about 40,000 are students, the city of Mainz is charming and open-minded and is within easy reach of cosmopolitan Frankfurt, the Rhine valley region with its castles, vineyards, and nature reserves, and the equally picturesque cities of Wiesbaden and Heidelberg. With Frankfurt airport – the largest airport in mainland Europe – only 20 minutes away, countless European and overseas destinations are within easy reach.

Activities and responsibilities:

In the field of “RNA Biology”, the IPP research group of Dr Claudia Keller Valsecchi offers the following PhD project:

Gene paralogues in neuronal splicing regulation

Aneuploidy and haploinsufficiency are two forms of gene-dosage alteration, where transcriptional and cellular changes ultimately result in a diseased state. However, gene and whole chromosome duplications are a major driver for the evolution of novel traits, for example in the vertebrate brain. Cells are equipped with control systems to ensure appropriate regulation of gene copies that allow gene diversification and expression control.

PhD project

In this project, you will work on two paralogous genes, whose protein products are a component of a supramolecular RNA‑protein complex, the spliceosome. Although the gene duplication event occurred more than 90 mya, the protein product remained almost identical, while displaying a tissue-specific expression pattern. Interestingly, the mutations in each of the two paralogues lead to very distinct developmental disorders in humans. It remains unclear, whether and how the two paralogues regulate the activity of the spliceosome and how this would impact the disease outcome.

The aim of your PhD project will be to dissect the intrinsic and extrinsic difference in these genes and products using both biochemical and in vivo assays. You will use CRISPR engineering in stem cell and neuronal cultures, as well as brain cortex organoids to model the tissue specific contribution of these splicing regulatory factors. Using live imaging, multi-omics, CLIP as well as biochemical assays, we will dissect the dependencies contributing to the distinct biology of these genes and their gene products.

We are looking for a PhD student with a strong interest in mechanisms of gene regulation and developmental cell biology. Your enthusiasm to work at the bench is driven by a biomedical mindset and the curiosity to unravel disease mechanisms. If you are a team player and show a high degree of motivation and excitement for science, you will be the right person to join our group.


What we offer:

  • Exciting, interdisciplinary projects in a fully international environment, with English as our working language
  • Advanced training in scientific techniques and professional skills
  • Access to our state-of-the-art Core Facilities and their technical expertise
  • Fully funded positions with financing until the completion of your thesis.
  • A lively community of more than 140 PhD students from 40 different countries


Are you an ambitious, young scientist looking to push the boundaries of science while interacting with colleagues from multiple disciplines and cultures? Then the IPP is your opportunity to give your scientific career a flying start!

We seek enthusiastic candidates with a special interest in the following topics:

  • Ageing & Disease
  • Bioinformatics & Computational Biology
  • DNA Repair & Genome Stability
  • Epigenetics & Nuclear Dynamics
  • Gene Regulation & Evolution
  • RNA Biology

Further requirements:

  • Master or equivalent
  • Interactive personality & good command of English
  • 2 letters of reference

For more details on the projects offered and how to apply via our online form, please visit


The deadline for applications is 27 November 2020. Interviews will take place in Mainz on 25-27 January 2021 if the pandemic situation allows. Otherwise we will inform selected candidates in due time about an alternative online programme.

Starting date: 1 March 2021 – 1 September 2021

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1 position(s) available at
International PhD Programme “Gene Regulation, Epigenetics and Genome Stability”
Ackermannweg 4

EURAXESS offer ID: 559008


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