All that we know, and all that we are, comes from the way our neurons are connected. There are about 1011 neurons in our brains, and each neuron makes on average thousand synapses with other neurons. Thus, the human brain contains about 1014 synaptic connections that give rise to our memory, intelligence, speech, movement, sensation or emotion. How are these highly organized neuronal networks correctly established? What molecules are involved in setting-up neuronal connections? What are the neuronal networks underlying specific behaviours?

Our lab is focused on molecular mechanisms of axon guidance and neural connectivity. We are particularly interested in semaphorins, the largest families of axon guidance cues which exert repulsive or attractive effects on axon growth cones through interaction with the plexin family of cell surface receptors.

We are seeking an enthusiastic and talented PhD student to join the Structural Neurobiology Group at the Department of Cell Biology. The work will be based at a new research centre, Biocev, which houses scientists of international repute in related fields and provides a broad range of frontline structural biology techniques.

As a PhD student, you will aim to understand how proteoglycans modulate the axon navigation towards their target. You will use protein crystallography and advanced fluorescence microscopy that will be further combined with biophysical and cellular experiments. Furthermore, you will build key oral and written communication skills, techniques for open science, and how to lead collaborative research projects. The project will give you opportunities to present your findings at scientific meetings. Our group has a strong commitment to both personal and professional development, and you will be encouraged to develop your own ideas within the scope of the group's interests and build your academic profile.

You should hold or, be near completion of a master's degree in biochemistry, structural biology, or related discipline, and have hands-on experience in techniques relevant to the project. Particularly useful would be the experience of protein production and purification, plasmids construction, cell culture, protein crystallography or electron microscopy. Good communication and writing skills are essential.

Recent publications:

1. Rozbesky et al. EMBO J. 39: e102926 (2020)

2. Rozbesky et. al. Structure. 28: 507-515 (2020)

3. Mehta et al. Nature. 578: 290-295 (2020)

4. Rozbesky et al. Nat Commun. 10: 3691-3703 (2019)

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