EDBB Open Positions

This page will be updated starting in the Fall of 2019, as the EDBB program will be informed of new positions becoming available for the January 22-24, 2020 Hiring Days event at EPFL. Meanwhile, do not hesitate to contact the laboratories which interest you to find out whether they have upcoming openings for PhD students.

  • Patrick BARTH – Laboratory of protein and cell engineering / Interschool Institute of Bioengineering / School of Life Sciences

Engineering powerful proteins with novel functions for cell engineering, synthetic biology and therapeutic applications
Protein design has made tremendous progress in recent years and is becoming central to synthetic biology applications including cell engineering approaches. For example, engineered proteins with customized signaling responses to disease-associated molecules provide promising and powerful new therapeutic agents for cancer immunotherapy, regenerative medicine and autoimmune disorders.
Our lab is developing and applying computational-experimental protein design approaches for engineering proteins with a wide range of novel functions. The technologies have been validated on simple proof of concepts (e.g. Feng et al., Nat Chem Biol 2017; Arber et al., Curr Opin Biotech 2017; Keri et al., Curr Opin Struct Biol 2018; Young et al., PNAS 2018; Chen et al., Nat Chem Biol in press). Using these approaches, we now aim at designing innovative and powerful protein nanomachines towards engineering synthetic living cells or for improving the anti-tumor responses of engineered immune cells in cancer immunotherapies.
Specific projects typically involve some aspects of computational protein modeling and design using the techniques developed in the lab complemented by the directed evolution of desired protein functions and validation of engineered cells using a variety of
cell biology approaches. Collaboration with laboratories at the CHUV/UniL/Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (e.g. Caroline Arber, George Coukos) are in place for testing engineered molecules and cells in mouse xenograft models before potential
translation to the clinic. Marrying empirical and computational protein engineering approaches has the unique potential to design a broad spectrum of cellular functions for engineering powerful cells with novel synthetic or sustained anti-tumor responses.

  • Maartje BASTINGS – Programmable Biomaterials Laboratory / Institute of Materials / School of Engineering

Exploring patterns of surface proteins on the cell membrane using selective-binding with DNA precision particles. 

We will exploit multivalency of rigid nanoparticles to achieve selective cell binding and characterise (dynamic) protein patterns on the cell surface.

Insights can be used for diagnostics as well as understand and manipulate cell-adhesion and surface signalling pathways.

  • Diego GHEZZI – MEDTRONIC Chair in Neuroengineering / Interschool Institute of Bioengineering / School of Engineering

Our laboratory (LNE) is a multidisciplinary environment promoting cross-fertilization among various expertise. We bring materials science, engineering, life science, and medicine together by the convergence of physicists, engineers, neuroscientists, and ophthalmologists cooperating to accomplish innovative projects. Our mission is the development of application-driven solutions based on compliant, minimally invasive, and replaceable neuroprosthetic devices. Ultimately, we aim at translating our research findings into clinical practice.

We are looking for a motivated student to join our laboratory and develop an innovative wireless photovoltaic neuroprosthesis for nerve stimulation. If you are looking for a phd in neurotechnology, working at the interface between polymer science, microengineering, and neuroscience then join our lab.

  • Matthias LUTOLF – Laboratory of Stem Cell Bioengineering / Interschool Institute of Bioengineering / School of Life Sciences

Engineering organoid morphogenesis

Organoids form through poorly understood morphogenetic processes in which initially homogeneous ensembles of stem cells spontaneously self-organize in suspension or within permissive three-dimensional extracellular matrices. Yet, the absence of virtually any predefined patterning influences such as morphogen gradients or mechanical cues results in an extensive heterogeneity. Moreover, the current mismatch in shape, size and lifespan between native organs and their in vitro counterparts hinders their even wider applicability. We have two openings at the PhD level to develop next-generation organoids that are assembled by guiding stem cell self-patterning through engineered microenvironments (1). One PhD project will focus on human gastrointestinal organoids (2), another one on embryonic organoids (3).

  • Brassard, J.A., Lutolf, M.P., Engineering Stem Cell Self-organization to Build Better Organoids, Cell Stem Cell, 24 (6), 860-876 (2019)
  • Gjorevski, N., Sachs, N., Manfrin, A., Giger, S., Bragina, M.E., Ordonez-Moran, P., Clevers, H., Lutolf, M.P., Designer matrices for intestinal stem cell and organoid culture, Nature, 539, 560-564 (2016)
  • Beccari, L., Moris, N., Girgin, M., Turner, D.A., Baillie-Johnson, P., Cossy, A.C., Lutolf, M.P., Duboule, D., Martinez Arias, A., Multi-axial self-organization properties of mouse embryonic stem cells into gastruloids, Nature, 562 (7726), 272 (2018)
  • Pavan RAMDYA – Neuroengineering Laboratory / Brain Mind Institute / School of Life Sciences

In the Neuroengineering Laboratory, we investigate transgenic flies (Drosophila melanogaster) to understand how behavior is controlled and to design more intelligent robots.

We have several PhD openings to study one of the following areas:

1) Data-driven neural and biomechanical modeling of limb control.

Key techniques: Computational modeling, Simulations, Confocal microscopy, Genetics

2) Electrophysiological recordings of synthetically rewired behavioral command neurons.

Key techniques: Electrophysiology, Genetics, Confocal microscopy

3) Optical recordings of neuronal population dynamics for limb control.

Key techniques: 2-photon microscopy, Machine learning, Genetics

4) Bioengineering insect exoskeletons for applications in robotics

Key techniques: Cell culture, microfabrication, microrobotics.

Join us! There is much to discover!”

  • David SUTER – Suter Laboratory / Interschool Institute of Bioengineering / School of Life Sciences

The Suter lab is interested in quantitative analysis of gene expression to understand how cell identities are established and maintained. The PhD project we propose aims at quantitative, biophysical characterization of the transcription factor network that controls the identity of embryonic stem cells. It will involve cutting edge approaches such as genome editing, quantitative live cell imaging and cell tracking, and single molecule imaging. This project is part of a Sinergia Consortium and will involve interdisciplinary collaboration with our partner labs experts in microfluidics and in vitro transcription factor characterization (Maerkl lab, EPFL), and computational modelling of biological networks (van Nimwegen lab, University of Basel).

For more details, see web pages of the EDBB program’s potential thesis directors.