PhD photobiocatalytic reactions

We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD researcher interested in discovering and studying (photo)biocatalytic reactions. The research is set in biocatalysis, using oxidoreductase enzymes to catalyse key redox reactions leading to useful chiral building ...

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Bornsesteeg, Wageningen, Gelderland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur


We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD researcher interested in discovering and studying (photo)biocatalytic reactions. The research is set in biocatalysis, using oxidoreductase enzymes to catalyse key redox reactions leading to useful chiral building blocks for pharmaceuticals. The expensive nicotinamide cofactor required by oxidoreductases acts as an electron donor or acceptor by releasing or accepting a hydride in a one-step two electron transfer. The development of inexpensive synthetic nicotinamide coenzyme biomimetics (NCBs) has led to a major breakthrough for C=C bond reducing enzymes, and the PhD work will be dedicated to apply the same concept to other oxidoreductases. In addition to the lower cost, using light-activated NCBs could give access to non-natural redox reactions in these enzymes.
The project involves organic synthesis, biocatalysis and molecular biology. The PhD candidate will be involved in the synthesis of new robust NCBs, their characterisation, and their light activation for electron transfer within oxidoreductases, as well as producing the enzymes.
The PhD position is part of the PhotoBioCat Innovative Training Network, a joint double degree program comprising 7 universities and 8 industrial enterprises from 6 European countries, funded under the "Excellent Science" cluster of the EU's Horizon 2020 program. As an international double degree programme, PhotoBioCat offers 12 Early Stage Researchers the opportunity to pursue cutting-edge projects in an interdisciplinary and international environment, complemented by a dedicated training programme.
The PhD student will be in a double degree program with the Ruhr University of Bochum performing a secondment placement (6 months) working on in vitro photobiocatalysis with redox-engineered photosystems from photosynthetic bacteria, complemented by a research stay (3 months) in industry.


For this position we request that candidates have a MSc in Chemistry or Bio(-organic)Chemistry. A thorough background (theoretical and experimental) in organic chemistry (synthesis and analysis) is required and a background in biochemistry/molecular biology is an asset. Due to the EU project mobility requirements, the candidate must NOT have resided or carried out his main activity in The Netherlands for more than 12 months in the last 3 years. The candidate should be fluent in both written and spoken English and able to adapt to an international setting.
The candidate will be required to participate in the training and workshop organized by the ITN-EJD. The candidate is expected to contribute to the dissemination of the project's result through public engagement and other scientific platforms.


We offer you a temporary position with an extension after successful evaluation. Gross salary per month
€ 2222,- in the first year rising up to € 2840,- per month in the fourth year.

We not only offer a competitive salary but also good (study) leave and a pension of the ABP Pension Fund.

Through a network-wide trainee program, we offer training events (workshops, conferences, etc.) for the reinforcement of social- and scientific skills of the PhD candidate within the H2020 MSCA ITN EJD consortium.

Additional information

For more information about this position, please contact dr. Caroline Paul (daily supervisor) e-mail tel. +31 317482374 , prof. dr. Willem van Berkel (promotor) e-mail tel. 31-317482861, or dr. Maurice Franssen (associate professor), tel. +31 317482976 .
For more information about the contractual aspects, please contact N. de Vries, e-mail, tel. +31 317 485677 .

You can apply online at uploading your motivation letter and CV until 31 July 2017. The starting date of the PhD project is planned for September 2017.


The Organic Chemistry group ( constitutes a large, interdisciplinary research team involved in teaching and research on organic chemistry, with an emphasis on surface-based reactivity. The group aims to excel in the research and teaching of organic chemistry. The laboratory is extremely well-equipped with a unique set of analysis instruments for bio-organic materials and surfaces, and the group consists of around 20 PhD students and postdocs, a permanent staff of 7 technical employees, two part-time professors with external expertise, 6 assistant and associate professors and one full-time chair. In addition to this, the embedding within Wageningen University & Research adds ample biological input into our focus on chemistry-based bionanotechnology. Currently ca. 1700 students/year take part in one or more Organic Chemistry study elements provided by our faculty.

The Enzymes@Work group ( is interested in the discovery, mechanisms, and state-of-the-art engineering of (redox) enzymes for applications in food, health, technology and environment. Mechanistic and structural insights are combined with catalytic applications at laboratory scale. A main strategy involves protein engineering efforts directed at understanding and improving the capabilities of oxidative biocatalysts. Applications range from producing novel enzymes, vitamins and flavour compounds to studying enzyme immobilisation, substrate channelling and cofactor regeneration.

The Agrotechnology & Food Sciences Faculty is part of Wageningen University & Research where fundamental and applied sciences complement each other. We have a crucial role in innovations within the market. Entrepreneurship and professionalism are what define us. In short, we are an interesting, international employer of stature.

Wageningen University & Research aims at delivering a substantial contribution to the quality of life. That's our focus - each and every day. Within our domain, healthy food and living environment, we search for answers to issues affecting society - such as sustainable food production, climate change and alternative energy. Of course, we don't do this alone. Every day, 5000 people work on 'the quality of life', turning ideas into reality, on a global scale. Could you be one of these people? We give you the space you need.
For further information about working at Wageningen University & Research, take a look at

Acquisition regarding this vacancy is not appreciated.


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