Ph.D. Student Position for experimental determination of RNA-protein complex structures

International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw
Laboratory of Bioinformatics and Protein Engineering
Poland Mazovian Voivodeship ​Warsaw


Laboratory of Bioinformatics and Protein Engineering at the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (IIMCB), Warsaw, headed by Prof. Janusz M. Bujnicki, offers a position for a Ph.D. student motivated to develop a career in an interdisciplinary and international team.

Deadline for applications is April 15, 2019. Preferred job starting date is May 2019.

Project description: Ribonucleic acid (RNA) molecules and their complexes with proteins (RNPs) play pivotal roles in living organisms. A very large fraction of biological processes, including the key aspects of genetic information processing, such as the regulation of gene expression, maturation of transcripts, and protein synthesis, rely on a concerted action of macromolecular complexes composed of protein and RNA molecules.

The goal of the project is to study the mechanism of action of RNPs, solve their 3D structures and to understand how the interaction between the RNA and protein influence the functions performed by them. Experimental analyses will be combined with computational modeling, to determine structures for macromolecular complexes.

As a Ph.D. student, you will be involved in experimental analyses of RNA, protein, and RNP 3D structures, including structure determination with a variety of biochemical and biophysical techniques, e.g., crystallography, SAXS, AFM, cryoEM. You will collaborate with other researchers (theoreticians and experimentalists) within the team, in the institute, as well as with international partners. This project is for junior scientists interested in studying structures of biological macromolecules with various experimental methods and in interdisciplinary work that involves computational modeling based on experimental data.

We offer:
• Full-time Ph.D. scholarship of 4000 PLN/month
• Position with 100% focus on research (no teaching obligations)
• Scientific mentoring, including the supervision of an individual Thesis Advisory Committee
• Participation in courses, scientific training, support from peers
• Benefits including reduced-rate for a medical care package and membership in the MultiSport program
• Technical, administrative, and organizational support from professional English-speaking personnel

The funding for the Ph.D. project is provided by a grant entitled “Integrative modeling and structure determination of RNA-protein complexes", which is carried out as the MAESTRO 2017/26/A/NZ1/01083 grant of the Polish National Science Center.

The institution: International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw is one of the top-ranked (A+) Polish research institutes, which provides a stimulating and interdisciplinary research environment. Research topics at IIMCB cover the wide area of molecular, cellular, and structural biology. The Institute is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, has excellent core facilities and supportive administration. The institute is located on a large biomedical campus that offers access to equipment and various possibilities of training and collaboration. The working language of the institute is English.

The team: Our group is highly interdisciplinary and international. We are driven by curiosity to answer fundamental questions in bio-sciences and to make new molecules that are practically useful. We combine various approaches for studying the structures and mechanisms of action of biological macromolecules, in particular, RNA, as well as macromolecular complexes involving nucleic acids, proteins, and small molecules. We use computational methods and knowledge-based design to engineering molecules with new structures and functions. Our key strength is the integration of various types of heterogeneous data, and the combination of theoretical and experimental approaches.
The experimentalists in the group use biochemical and biophysical approaches to elucidate the structures and functions of our target molecules, while our theoreticians develop innovative computational tools. We make our software available publicly, often as web servers. We collaborate to gather, process, and analyze the data, make new predictions and discoveries, and to develop new solutions that address important scientific problems.

Ph.D. studies: Our Ph.D. students are enrolled in Ph.D. schools on the campus, in particular at the collaborating institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences. Ph.D. students have an opportunity to participate in a hands-on training program, covering theoretical and practical aspects of molecular biology, biochemistry, biophysics of proteins and nucleic acids, structural biology, and bioinformatics. Students-programmers are trained in software development. Ph.D. studies involve a full-time research project in one or more of the areas mentioned above, combined with training in soft skills (e.g., presenting scientific results, writing publications and grant applications, managing projects).


Required for this position:
• MSc degree (or other equivalent master’s degree) in biology, chemistry or related area - defended before the start of the work on the project and the first year of Ph.D. studies.
• Eligibility for Ph.D. studies in Poland under the supervision of prof. Bujnicki.
• Documented experience in biochemical and biophysical analyses of protein and nucleic acid structures. Experience in macromolecular crystallography, SAXS, AFM, cryoEM, biochemical probing of RNA structure and other related techniques will be advantageous.
• A proactive approach to achieving tasks and objectives, good interpersonal skills, a collaborative attitude.
• Have very good written and oral communication in English.
• Enjoy working in a highly collaborative and interdisciplinary environment

Desired, but not essential expertise
• Experience in bioinformatics, molecular modeling, and data analysis.

Priority will be for candidates with expertise most relevant to the project and to the profile of the laboratory, who are familiar with our work (in particular with our publications related to the topic of this project) and who can convincingly explain why their expertise is a good fit for our requirements.

Start date

May 01, 2019

Start date

To be determined

How to Apply

• Apply now (before the deadline of April 15th, 2019) to
• In the subject, include "PhDstudent_RNPStructure" and your first and last name.
• Your application must be submitted in English and should contain: 1) a CV, 2) a cover letter including a short description of your key achievements and explicit responses to the following questions:
What are your scientific interests and how do they relate to the requirements of the position offered? What are your key strengths? What do you know about our laboratory and why do you want to work with us? 3) contacts to at least two potential referees, including your M.Sc. supervisor
• Please include the following statement in your application: “I hereby agree to the processing of my personal data, included in the application documents by the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw, 4 Księcia Trojdena Street, 02-109 Warsaw, for the purpose of carrying out the current recruitment process.” Your personal data will be processed for the purpose of the recruitment procedure by the International Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology in Warsaw.
Full information is available under the link
• The competition may be extended or repeated until a suitable candidate who fulfills all requirements is found

The Ph.D. student will be selected from candidates in an open competition, according to the procedure complying the rules for granting scholarships for young scientists in research projects funded by the National Science Centre (NCN Council Resolution No. 96/2016 dated October 27, 2016 r.) and the procedure complying with the rules
of the European Charter for Researchers and the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers as a part of HR Excellence in Research strategy