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PhD position: Designing division: modelling chromosome segregation in a synthetic cell

One of the key characteristics of life is the ability of cells to divide. During division the replicated genetic material, in the form of long DNA polymers, has to be properly spatially segregated and apportioned ...

10 maanden geleden


Van Vollenhovenlaan, Utrecht, Utrecht
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
40 uur
€ 2834 per maand


One of the key characteristics of life is the ability of cells to divide. During division the replicated genetic material, in the form of long DNA polymers, has to be properly spatially segregated and apportioned to the nascent daughter cells. In the context of the recently awarded 'Zwaartekracht' programme Building a Synthetic Cell (BaSyC the Theory of Biomolecular Matter group is looking for a PhD student to develop a minimal yet robust system for DNA segregation, based on the entropic properties of confined polymers. While it has been shown in the past that entropy could indeed be the driver for chromosome segregation, the challenge that needs to be taken up is to develop this principle into a working protocol that could function within the design parameters of the future autonomously dividing synthetic cell. This requires deeper insight into the role of chromosome structure and potential interactions with the confining cell surface on the segregation process. These questions will be approached using a mix of theory and simulations, combining fundamental insight with proof-of-principle demonstration. In this project, there will close collaboration with the lab of prof. Cees Dekker (Bionanoscience, TU Delft) who spearheads the experimental effort in the programme, as well as with the wider community of groups participating in the BaSyC consortium.

The Theory of Biomolecular Matter group at AMOLF focusses on using the tools of statistical physics and continuum mechanics on understanding the properties of living matter, but is also interested in developing fundamental techniques in statistical physics and stochastic processes.


We are looking for an open-minded candidate with a degree in theoretical physics (or an equivalent quantitative and analytical experience), who is willing to operate in a strongly multi-disciplinary environment and to learn relevant biological and biochemical background on the go. You will need to meet the requirements for an MSc-degree, to ensure eligibility for a Dutch PhD examination.


When fulfilling a PhD position at NWO-I, the Institutes Organisation of NWO, you will get the status of junior scientist.
You will have an employee status and can participate in all the employee benefits NWO-I offers. You will get a contract for four years. Your salary will be up to a maximum of 2,834 euro gross per month. The salary is supplemented with a holiday allowance of 8 percent and an end-of-year bonus of 8.33 percent.
You are supposed to have a thesis finished at the end of your four year term with NWO-I.
A training programme is part of the agreement. You and your supervisor will make up a plan for the additional education and supervising that you specifically need. This plan also defines which teaching activities you will be responsible (up to a maximum of ten percent of your time). The conditions of employment of NWO-I are laid down in the Collective Labour Agreement for Research Centres (Cao-Onderzoekinstellingen), more exclusive information is available at this website under Personeelsinformatie (in Dutch) or under Personnel (in English).
General information about working at NWO-I can be found in the English part of this website under Personnel. The 'Job interview code' applies to this position.

Additional information

Prof.dr. Bela M. Mulder, Group leader Theory of Biomolecular Matter, Phone: +31 (0)20-754 7100


AMOLF initiates and performs leading fundamental research on the physics of complex forms of matter, and creates new functional materials, in partnership with academia and industry. AMOLF is located at the Amsterdam Science Park, The Netherlands, and engages approximately 140 scientists and 70 support staff. See also www.amolf.nl