Postdoc position in biological microED and single molecule electron diffraction

University of Basel
Basel, Switzerland
Apr 18, 2021
May 16, 2021
Organization Type
University and College
Full Time
The Biozentrum of the University of Basel is one of the leading life sciences institutes in the world. It consists of 30 groups and 500 employees that research how molecules and cells create life, spanning the scale from atom to organism. Founded in 1971, the Biozentrum has been the birthplace of many fundamental discoveries in biology and medicine, spawning several Nobel Laureates.

A postdoc position funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation is available from September 2021 onwards in the group of Prof Jan Pieter Abrahams at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel.

Cryo-electron microscopy can reveal the atomic structures of biological molecules by focusing the electrons that are scattered by the sample into an image. These electron images have low contrast and are very noisy, because electron beam damages the sample.

The Abrahams group has generated strong evidence that the signal-to-noise ratio of the electron image can be boosted significantly by measuring the scattered electrons directly. This resulted in the development of protein nano-crystallography (micro-ED) and we are extending the method to include non-crystalline samples and single molecule electron diffraction (simED). Novel, dedicated hardware will allow us to develop methods for automatically generating vast amounts of electron diffraction data short periods of time. We aim to develop novel tools based on Artificial Intelligence and Big Data technologies for interpreting these data. An important biological focus of our group is on molecular machines for protein degradation. (I. Mohammed, K. A. Schmitz, N. Schenck, T. Maier, J. P. Abrahams, Catalytic cycling of human mitochondrial Lon protease. Sci. Adv. 7, eabf0156 (2021).

Part of the work will be performed at, and will be supported by, the Paul Scherrer Institute .

Your position
Validating simED and comparing to cryo-electron ptychography. Your project is part of an overall project of our group to establish novel technologies and methods for biomolecular structure determination. For validation, we will initially use well characterized samples of which high resolution structures are available. These may include 3D crystals, helical structures (e.g. TMV, bacterial flagella of samples we analyzed by imaging), single macromolecular complexes (ribosomes, LonP1 samples). For these samples, we already know the whole structure or at least substantial parts of the structure in near-atomic resolution. Especially for the LonP1 samples, we will investigate if we can distinguish additional conformations to enhance the resolution. It will be augmented with density modification to get a clearer view of the parts for which no atomic model is available. The postdoc is also expected to help coordinating the overall project goals and instruct and assist the PhD students in cryo-EM data collection.

Your profile
We are looking for an expert in biological EM, preferably with in-depth knowledge of single cryo-EM data collection methods and data analysis.
The project is highly synergistic, and you will work collaboratively as an enthusiastic team towards achieving the common goals. You will have prime responsibility for one particular project, while providing strong support for the other projects.

We offer you
We offer an exciting and stimulating work environment with scientific collaborations within the institute and worldwide. This position is funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF). The salary complies with the guidelines of the SNF. The initial contract is limited to one year, with the possibility to extend it up to 4 years.

Basel is an international city with people from 150 nations. Located on the border where three countries meet - Switzerland-Germany- France -, it is Europe's most important life sciences hub. Basel provides a high standard of living and a rich and varied cultural atmosphere.

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