PhD fellowship in computational CRISPR guide RNA design

University of Copenhagen
Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences
DenmarkCapital RegionCopenhagen
employment.ku.dk/faculty/?show=157954

Description

A PhD fellowship is available in the Computational Biology and Bioinformatics research group (ivh.ku.dk/bioinformatics), Center for non-coding RNA in Technology and Health (RTH), (rth.dk) at Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences (ivh.ku.dk/english), Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at University of Copenhagen. The CRISPR field is developing rapidly and is continuously providing novel technological possibilities by several types of applications including gene editing and gene surgery. A key challenge is to pick the most efficient on-target guide RNA (gRNA) among several possible ones in a specific target region while taking the possible off-targets, i.e., unintended edits elsewhere in the genome, into account. This PhD project aims to make computational methods for on-target gRNA design while taking the off-target potential into account. The position is funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Start date is March 1, 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The Bioinformatics group and research:
The Computational Biology and Bioinformatics research group holds a long-standing interest in Computational RNA biology and transcriptomics but works in general on many different topics covering computational, algorithmic and biological aspects. Over the recent years CRISPR bioinformatics has evolved from the group’s interest in RNA-RNA interactions through gRNA-DNA interactions. The group is located on Frederiksberg Campus. Our research environment is highly international and stimulating. We are involved in organizing seminars, workshops, summer schools with international speakers and have retreats with our international collaborators.

Project description:
The PhD project is focused on designing computational methods for gRNA design while taking the off-target landscape, developed by others in the group, into account. The PhD project will take outset in the in-house deep learning (DL) model, CRISPRon, to be applied on data generated by project collaborator Prof Yonglun Luo. The initial model will encode both on- and off-target data (as ranked by our CRISPRoff method) to predict gRNA efficiency while also being used for model-driven data generation of novel gRNA efficiency data by collaborator. The downstream computational models will explore machine and deep learning techniques for further enhancement, and they will subsequently be used to make a multiplex version to simultaneously target multiple genes taking their genetic interactions into account in collaboration with a project collaborator Prof Lars Juhl Jensen. Throughout the project, methodological advances will be incorporated in the available CRISPR design web interface.

Duration: 3 years as a PhD student + 3 months as Research Assistant prior to PhD enrolment

Job description:
Your key tasks as a PhD student at SUND are:
Carrying through an independent research project under supervision, with content as outlined above in the project description.
Completing PhD courses or other equivalent education corresponding to approximately 30 ECTS points.
Participating in active research environments including a stay at another research team.
Obtaining experience with teaching or other types of dissemination related to your PhD project
Teaching and disseminating your knowledge.
Writing a PhD thesis on the grounds of your project
Place of employment
The place of employment is at the Computational Biology and Bioinformatics group, Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. The work environment in the lab is highly dynamic and international with good synergy among the different research projects. The group has access to all the necessary computational infrastructure and high-performance computing needed for the project.

Terms of employment:
The average weekly working hours are 37 hours per week.
The position is a fixed-term position limited to a period of 3 years. The start date is March 1, 2023 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The employment is conditioned upon the applicant’s success­ful enrolment as a PhD student at the Graduate School at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant during an initial three-month employment as a research assistant.
The PhD study must be completed in accordance with The Ministerial Order on the PhD programme (2013) and the Faculty’s rules on achieving the degree.
Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with the agree­ment between the Ministry of Taxation and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. Depending on seniority, the monthly salary starts at approximately 28,400 DKK/Roughly 3,800 EUR (October 2022 level) plus pension.


Qualifications

Key criteria for the assessment of applicants
Applicants must have qualifications corresponding to a master’s degree related to the subject area of the project such as Bioinformatics, Computer Science or similar areas. Most importantly that you meet the technical requirements in bullet #2 below. Please note that your master’s degree must be equivalent to a Danish master’s degree (two years).

Other important criteria are:

The grade point average achieved
Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project. This include (but not limited to):
For the following criteria the level has to be at level where you are able to work independently:
A solid knowledge of Machine and Deep learning algorithms
Python (or Perl) and knowledge of C/C++, shell scripting and Unix/Linux operating system
Previous publications
Relevant work experience
Demonstrate that you can work independently while keeping the team up to date
Pro-active in the project and its planning
Other professional activities
Language skills


Start date

March 01, 2023

How to Apply

Application procedure:
Your application must be submitted electronically at the UCPH job site: employment.ku.dk/faculty/?show=157954 by clicking ‘Apply now’. Only applications received via this site will be taken into consideration.
The application must include the following documents in PDF format:
1. Motivated letter of application (max. one page)
2. CV incl. education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
3. Certified copy of original Master of Science diploma and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in other language than English or Danish. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor is accepted. As a prerequisite for a PhD fellowship employment, your master’s degree must be equivalent to a Danish master’s degree. We encourage you to read more in the assessment database: ufm.dk/en/education/recognition-and-transparency/find-assessments/assessment-database. Please note that we might ask you to obtain an assessment of your education performed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science
4. Publication list (if possible)

Application deadline: December 18, 2022, 23.59pm CET

We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

The further process:
After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the hiring committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an unbiased assessor.

The assessor makes a non-prioritized assessment of the academic qualifications and experience with respect to the above-mentioned area of research, techniques, skills and other requirements listed in the advertisement.

Once the assessment work has been completed each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself.

You find information about the recruitment process at: employment.ku.dk/faculty/recruitment-process/

The applicants will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 242 of 13 March 2012 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities.

Interviews are expected to be held from January 4 and the following week.

The University of Copenhagen wish to reflect the diversity of society and encourage all qualified candidates to apply regardless of personal background.