Novo Nordisk Foundation PhD in Metabolic engineering of yeast cell factories for blood substitutes generation by microbial fermentation

DTU Bioengineering
Tuesday 26 Jun 18

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DTU Bioengineering at the Technical University of Denmark invites applications for a position as PhD in “Metabolic engineering of yeast cell factories for blood substitutes generation by microbial fermentation”.

The position is part of a large initiative granted by the Novo Nordisk Foundation with the aim of establishing a Research Based World-Class Joint Education Program in Fermentation Based Biomanufacturing. The initiative is a collaboration between three departments at DTU - DTU Chemical Engineering, DTU Bioengineering and the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability. This position will be hosted at xxxx and is one of six PhD positions posted for the program this year.

This position will be placed at DTU Bioengineering, section of Synthetic Biology working with gene and genome editing, synthetic biology, regulation engineering, protein production, expression and discovery of bioactive compounds across cell factories, in particular yeast, filamentous fungi, plant and mammalian cells. The section has a total staff of approx. 35, of which 7 is faculty.

Responsibilities and Tasks
The purpose of the project is the generation of yeast cell factories (mainly Saccharomyces cerevisiae, but with a potential expansion to other non-conventional yeast hosts) for the efficient and cost effective production of recombinant human hemoglobin molecules, that can serve as stable and reliable source for further development of HBOCs (hemoglobin based oxygen carriers).

In this project you will:

  • Establish a set of versatile molecular tools for fast and high-throughput cloning of simultaneous genetic targets
  • Develop a range of yeast hosts with an increase capacity of generation of heme molecules and and enhanced iron assimilation and efficient compartimentalization, by heterologous expression of foreign biosynthetic pathways and membrane transporters
  • Perform and in depth physiological characterization of target strains by using highly instrumented lab-scale bioreactors combined with a range of -omics analyses and bioinformatic tools
The PhD project will be executed partly at DTU Bioengineering, partly at DTU Biosustain.

Candidates should have a master's degree in engineering or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to the master's degree in engineering.

We are looking for a candidate with a solid background in:
  • Microbial physiology and molecular biology (preferably in fungal organisms)
  • State-of-the-art genetic engineering techniques (CRISPR-Cas9, Golden Gate, Gibson cloning, etc)
  • Quantitative fungal physiology and fermentation technology
We expect that you are an efficient team worker, have good communication skills, and have a critical approach to formulation and testing of hypotheses. Also, a good sense of humor will be appreciated.

Approval and Enrolment
The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.

The assessment of the applicants will be made by Assistant Professor José Luis Martínez Ruiz and approved by an internal PhD assessment committee.

We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and Appointment Terms
The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information
Further information may be obtained from Assistant Professor José Luis Martínez, or +45 45 25 26 30.

You can read more about DTU Bioengineering at

Please submit your online application no later than 15 August 2018 (local time). Apply online at

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:
  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum Vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)
Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

The Novo Nordic Foundation initiative on “A research Based World-Class Joint Education Program in Fermentation Based Biomanufacturing” build on the increasing needs from industry for development and upgrading of specialised expertise in the field of fermentation.

The educational programmes will be based on cutting edge research covering all aspects from fundamental physiology of production organisms/cell factories, synthetic biology and metabolic engineering to scale-up process technology, including downstream processing. These areas will be closely integrated and the programmes will be supported in close dialogue with relevant industry partners. DTU will hereby provide top-level candidates (MSc, PhD and continued education) and research-based expertise of high value to the biotechnological, chemical and pharmaceutical fermentation based biomanufacturing industries in Denmark.

The Department of Biotechnology and Biomedicine (DTU Bioengineering) conducts research, educates future bio-engineers, provides scientific advice and innovate within the areas of microbiology, biochemistry, biotechnology and biomedicine. The research at DTU Bioengineering is at the highest international level and focuses on the societal and scientific challenges within the field. Research is conducted within three main areas: Microbial ecology and physiology, Industrial biotechnology and cell factories, and Biomedicine and health. The department has extensive collaboration with national and international research units and industries. DTU Bioengineering has approx. 160 employees, of which 2/3 is scientific staff and is expanding rapidly in 2018. The department is located at DTU Lyngby Campus.

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 6,000 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society, and our 11,200 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government and public agencies.