Building and promoting Excellence in Life Sciences in Europe
Building and promoting Excellence in Life Sciences in Europe

Position for PhD enrolment in Biology

The PhD project (ESR2) will aim to establish Physcomitrella lines with increased terpenoid production.

We are seeking a talented and ambitious PhD student to work on engineering of the moss Physcomitrella patens. The aim is to identify stress conditions that increase terpenoid production in the moss, and to determine underlying molecular mechanism or key regulatory genes suitable to increase terpenoid production under normal growth conditions. The PhD student will join the Marie-Curie ITN-EID project as ESR2.


The vision of MossTech is to expand the available biotechnological tools for the European biotech industry. Europe is the world leader in use of mosses for biotech industries. In this MossTech project (ESR2), we will expand the biotechnological application of mosses and establish novel moss lines with very high level of terpenoid biosynthesis. This will include studies on stress response, inducible systems and other means to increase the biosynthesis.


Responsibilities and tasks


The PhD project (ESR2) will aim to establish Physcomitrella lines with increased terpenoid production.


This will include:

  • Identify stress conditions increasing terpenoid production
  • Perform gene expression studies to determine key regulatory genes involved.
  • Overexpress or knock-out candidate genes to obtain high terpenoid producer lines.


Your key tasks as a PhD student are:

  • Manage and carry through your research project
  • Take PhD courses
  • Write scientific articles and your PhD thesis
  • Participate in conferences
  • Disseminate your research



The PhD candidate must have the following mandatory prerequisites:


  • Candidates should have a master of science degree in Biotechnology or a similar degree (Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, etc.) with an academic level equivalent to this.
  • Previous experience in cloning and genetic modifications
  • Proven laboratory experience with molecular biology and biochemistry
  • Strong work ethic and motivation to succeed within a competitive research field
  • Good communication skills
  • Talent for scientific writing
  • Excellent written and spoken English


Preference given to candidates with experience in (prioritized list):


  • Transcriptomics and Bioinformatics
  • Physcomitrella patens engineering



The applicant must possess an MSc degree prior to initiation of the PhD study and be able to take up the position no later than April 1st, 2018.



Special requirements for Marie-Curie ITN-EID positions


At the time of recruitment, it is a requirement that PhD candidates have not been awarded a doctorate degree and are in the first 4 years (full-time equivalent) of their research careers. Furthermore, at the time of selection by the IGC, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in either Portugal or Denmark for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment. Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account.


Approval and Enrolment


The employment contract for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidates will be enrolled in one of the general degree programs at ITQB NOVA.


Assessment and Notification


Selection Procedure: Pre-selection on the basis of CV and motivation letter. Selected candidates will be called for interview. The final evaluation will be based on the CV (50%), outcome of the interview (40%) and letter of motivation (10%).

Selection Jury: Dr. Jörg Becker (chair), Dr. Henrik Toft Simonsen and Dr. Hansol Bae (members)

An Ata will be written with a summary of the Jury meetings, their votes and justification along with a seriated list of the approved candidates and their classifications. The results of this call will be sent by email to all candidates. The Ata will be sent to candidates upon request.

After the notification all candidates have 10 working days to pronounce themselves. On the 11th day after the notification the Jury will make the final decision.


We offer

The IGC is a research institute devoted to biological and biomedical research and to graduate training. Excellence, originality, communication, cooperation and generosity, coupled with an outstanding infrastructure are essential ingredients that make IGC a special place to be. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment.


Salary and appointment terms


The appointment will be in form of an employment contract based on established salary rates for Marie-Curie ITN-EID Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) in Portugal. The period of employment is 3 years.

Portuguese labour law Código do Trabalho (Law nº7/2009 from 12th February in its actual version) applies as well as all regulations of H2020-MSCA-ITN-2017- MossTech -765115 grant.




The project will be split between 22 months at Mosspiration Biotech in Copenhagen, Denmark, and 14 months at Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência in Oeiras, Portugal. The project period in Denmark will start around the 1st of June 2018, thus two months into the PhD period.


Further information


Further information may be obtained from Dr. Jörg Becker, e-mail:

You can read more about the research group at:

And find more about MossTech at:







Please submit your online application no later than December 6th 2017 (local time).

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. Sent by e-mail to Dr. Jörg Becker ( with the subject “MossTech ESR2”.

The file must include:


  • A letter of motivation
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Contacts of previous supervisor(s)
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma


Candidates may apply prior to ob­tai­ning their master's degree, but cannot begin before having received it.

The IGC actively promotes a nondiscrimination and equal access rights policy, as such, no candidate is to be privileged, beneficiated, harmed or deprived of any right or withhold of any duty in reason, namely, of ascendency, age, sex, sexual orientation, civil state, familiar situation, economic situation, instruction, origin or social condition, genetic endowment, reduced labor capacity, disability, chronic illness, nationality, ethnic origin, language, religion, political convictions or ideological and syndical affiliation.

According to D.L. nº 29/2001 from 3rd February, the candidate with disability has preference when the classification is equal to that of another candidate. This preference prevails above all other legal preferences. Candidates should declare in their application, under commitment of honor, their degree of disability, the type of disability and the means of communication to be used in the selection procedure, under the terms of the above mentioned D.L..


About the IGC


The Instituto Gulbenkian de Ciência (IGC - is a private institute devoted to basic biological and biomedical research, and to graduate training. The IGC is free from hierarchical structure, with small independent research groups working in an environment designed to foster interaction and cooperation.The scientific programme of the IGC is multidisciplinary, including Cell and Developmental Biology, Evolutionary Biology, Inflammation, Immunology, Host-Pathogen Interactions, Disease Genetics, Plant Biology, Neurosciences, Theoretical and Computational Biology.

The institute is part of the Oeiras Campus, home to several other basic and applied research centres in biology, biotechnology and chemistry.


Dr. Jörg Becker

Host Institute
Application Deadline