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

Positions for PhD students and Postdocs: Modelling Chromosome Conformation and Gene Regulation


Positions for PhD students and postdocs funded by an ERC Starting Grant are available in the group of Luca Giorgetti at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research (FMI) in Basel. Our lab studies the interplay between genome architecture and gene expression in mammalian cells using experimental methods from molecular biology, imaging and genomics as well as physical modelling.

In mammalian cells, transcriptional control depends on distal regulatory DNA sequences such as enhancers, which can be located at large genomic distances from their target genes. Enhancers are thought to activate transcription from promoters by associating with them in the three-dimensional space of the cell nucleus. However, the principles that link enhancer-promoter interactions to transcription are unknown. How often does an enhancer contact its target promoter during a cell cycle, and how long do their encounters last? In how many cells in a population do enhancer-promoter interactions occur? Are they actually necessary for transcriptional activation, and by which mechanisms they translated into accurate gene expression patterns? To address these questions, the successful candidates will apply methods from polymer physics and statistical mechanics to describe the three-dimensional folding and dynamics of chromosomes. They will also develop new computational and bioinformatic methods to analyse quantitative datasets obtained in our lab, including Hi-C as well as live-cell imaging of RNA and DNA.

We are looking for highly motivated, intellectually curious individuals with a proven track record in biophysics, computational or soft-matter physics. Previous experience with analysis of biological datasets and/or bioinformatics will be considered a plus. A competitive salary and collaboration/training with the cutting-edge FMI Computational Biology, Functional Genomics and Advanced Imaging facilities will be provided.

The FMI is a world-class research institute in basic biomedical science affiliated with the University of Basel and the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research. Basel is a vibrant city offering an outstanding scientific environment as well as excellent opportunities for cultural and outdoor activities. It is located in the centre of Europe with easy access to other European cities such as Zurich, Milan, Paris etc.

Applications should be addressed to Luca Giorgetti (
and include a motivation letter, CV and contact details of referees.

Selected publications:
Redolfi et al., BiorXiv preprint: (2018)
Zhan et al. Genome Research 27:479–490 (2017)
Zhan et al. Physical Review 94:032402 (2016)
Giorgetti et al. Nature, 535:575-579 (2016)
Giorgetti et al. Cell 157: 950-63 (2014)
Giorgetti et al. Molecular Cell 37: 418-28 (2010)

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