PhD student on exploring structural dynamics of fluorescent proteins at KU
Last modification : Friday, June 24, 2022
The research project “FluoXFEL” at the Department of Chemistry, KU Leuven is
now looking for a motivated PhD student. The FluoXFEL project aims to reveal
excited state structural dynamics essential for photoswitching of fluorescent
proteins by applying serial femtosecond crystallography (SFX) with X-ray
free electron laser (XFEL). Time-resolved spectroscopy and QM/MM simulations
will also be integrated. In addition, developing advanced microscopy
technologies for live cell imaging with fluorescent proteins is also in our
scope. The research team is composed of laboratories of biochemistry (Prof.
Mizuno), structural biology (Prof. Van Meervelt), quantum chemistry (Prof.
Harvey) and spectroscopy (Dr. Fron), Department of Chemistry.
Fluorescent proteins (FPs) have become a widely adopted choice for protein
labelling in living specimen. Some FPs show unique photoswitching properties
(psFPs) with which advanced microscopy techniques such as super-resolution
microscopy have been developed. Optimizing the photoswitching properties is
crucial for further advancement of the microscopy technologies, and knowledge
of the molecular nature of the photoswitching reactions is essential for
rational design of improved psFPs. However, since photoswitching is an
excited-state process proceeding on femto- to pico-second timescales, the
corresponding structural dynamics are inaccessible by traditional synchrotron
X-ray crystallography. In this project, we will address this unexplored
information by employing the next generation X-ray source, X-ray free electron
laser (XFEL). XFEL provides extremely short (10 fs), strong, and coherent
X-ray pulses, which enables serial femtosecond X-ray crystallography (SFX).
We will also employ ultrafast spectroscopy and QM/MM simulation to acquire
complementary information and integrate results with SFX, aiming at gaining a
full understanding of the molecular basis of the photoswitching processes.
Developing advanced microscopic technologies with fluorescent proteins for
biological imaging is also in our scope. We will especially expand “FADED”, a
new mode of FRET quantification method based on anisotropy. For details about
the FADED approach, please refer our recent publication in Nature
Communications: https: // www. nature.com/articles/s41467-021-22816-7
The successful candidate will work on the part of the protein crystallography
including XFEL experiments.
Candidates should be strongly motivated in studying cutting-edge protein
crystallography including SFX with XFEL.
Candidates must have a Master's degree in the field of biochemistry,
biology, biophysics, chemistry or an equivalent with good study results.
Experiences in the field of structural biology is desirable.
The successful PhD candidate will be hired as a full-time PhD research fellow
for 4 years. He/she will follow the Arenberg Doctoral training programme:
https: // set.kuleuven.be/phd/dopl/training.htm
The project will officially start at 1st of October 2022. The successful
candidate is expected to join on that date, but joining shortly after that
date is possible.
To apply the position, send a combined PDF file in which following documents
A curriculum vitae (with publication list if relevant)
A summary of the research experiences (max. 2 pages including figures)
A list of all master courses with their number of study points and the
Names and contact details of two reference persons
For more information please contact Prof. dr. Hideaki Mizuno, mail:
The application deadline is September 11, 2022, but earlier applications are
encouraged. The applications will be considered as soon as they are received,
and we will stop accepting applications once a right candidate is found.
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regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If
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