PhD position in the field of Coronavirus replication and transcription investigation using single-molecule biophysics

Research / Academic

The successful candidates will investigate how replication and transcription in coronaviruses are regulated by viral proteins associating with the polymerase and the viral genome sequence. To this end, she/he will use state-of-the-art single molecule techniques. Within the lab, the successful candidate will design, perform experiments, and develop new computational analysis tools to analyze her/his data.

The recent SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has shown how fragile humankind is when facing such highly infectious virus in absence of antiviral treatment. To establish a successful infection, SARS-CoV-2 must replicate and transcribe its genome very efficiently in the host cell. This task is performed by the replication-transcription complex, a multi-proteins complex formed of a polymerase and viral co-factors, which is a key target for antivirals. While cryo-electron microscopy has brought many high-resolution images of the complex in different compositions, functional studies are still lacking, impairing the precise characterization of the function of such complex during infection. The goal of this thesis is to decipher the mechanism of assembly of the replication-transcription complex and its regulation during viral RNA synthesis, providing new targets for the rational design of the antiviral drugs of the future.


We are seeking for

  • An outstanding experimentalist with experience in physics of life, enzymology, biotechnology, soft matter physics. Candidates must have a Experience in optics, computer programming (LabVIEW, Python, Matlab, C++, etc.) and enzymology will be strongly appreciated. If not familiar with programing, the candidates will have to learn Python to analyze their data.
  • a creative, hard-working and independent individual with strong work ethic and interest in crossing research fields, and a strong ability to work in team.

The candidate will successfully develop and combine different expertise in physics, biology and software programming to establish new single-molecule assays and investigate how the coronavirus RNA synthesis machinery assembles and is regulated during viral RNA replication and transcription. Proficiency in English (both speaking and writing) is required.

Salary Benefits:

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,541 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,247 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a total duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • discounts on collective insurances (healthcare- and car insurance)
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package
Work Hours:

30.4 - 38 hours per week


De Boelelaan 1105