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Doctoral Researcher Position: Metabolic cross talk between host and S. aureus during chronic osteomyelitis

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The Leibniz Institute for Natural Product Research and Infection Biology – Hans Knöll Institute – in cooperation with the Friedrich Schiller University and the Max Planck Institute for Chemical Ecology are offering an international graduate training program.

The International Leibniz Research School (ILRS Jena) gives doctoral researchers the possibility to prepare for their PhD exam in an ambitious program providing excellent research conditions.

We invite applications for a Doctoral Researcher Position (Ref.No. ILRS_09/2015)

Metabolic cross talk between host and S. aureus during chronic osteomyelitis
Staphylococcus aureus is a frequent cause of invasive tissue infections. In particular bone infections can develop from an acute inflammatory to a chronic stage that is extremely difficult to treat and often requires surgery, e.g. amputation. S. aureus persistence strategies are associated with the bacterial ability to invade host cells and dynamically change phenotypes from the aggressive wild-type to small colony variants (SCVs) which are adapted for long-term persistence. In our previous work we found that SCVs down-regulate their metabolism via dynamic global regulators. Thus, they can rapidly adjust to the altered environmental conditions and escape from the host defense system. Only recently, we could demonstrate that sigma factor B (sigB), a global bacterial stress regulator, is essential for SCV-formation and long-term persistence. Furthermore, we observed that during intracellular persistence the bacteria developed a thickened cell membrane/wall. Membranes consist of fatty acids (FAs) and in S. aureus their synthesis is mainly regulated by the type II fatty acid pathway (FASII) that is highly energy consumptive. An alternative way is to gain FA from external sources, such as host cells. S. aureus is able to incorporate extracellular FAs into their phospholipids that might be a crucial bacterial step for persistence. In this project we plan to investigate the function of SigB for the generation or uptake of FA and their impact on chronic infection development. We will characterize the cell envelope changes of S. aureus in our long-term infection models by electron microscopy and biochemical approaches. The impact of virulence factors, global regulators and proteins involved in FA synthesis will be analyzed by molecular methods (e.g. mutants, RNA seq, real-time PCR). By this means we aim to better explore the cross talk between S. aureus and their host cells, which is the prerequisite to develop novel therapeutic strategies against persisting infections.

We expect:
  • a Master’s degree (or equivalent allowing you to pursue a PhD degree) in Natural or Life Sciences. Research at ILRS is centred around “Microbial and Biomolecular Interactions”. Candidates about to earn their degree are welcome to apply.
  • high motivation and interest to join one of the research areas of ILRS
  • creativity and interest in shaping your own thesis project
  • an integrative and cooperative personality with enthusiasm for actively participating in our lively community
  • very good communication skills in English
We offer:
  • a top-level research environment
  • efficient supervision by a team of advisors
  • a comprehensive mentoring program (cf. Program of Study)
  • courses in state-of-the-art technologies and soft skills
  • strong communication and interaction between the involved institutions
  • Jena – City of Science: innovative business activities, successful scientific centres and a vibrant cultural scene around the famous Friedrich Schiller University

The three-year Doctoral Researcher position is available starting from February 2016. Salary will be paid according to TV-L (salary agreement for public service employees). HKI is an equal opportunity employer.

Further information:
Prof. Dr. Bettina Löffler, PI,
Dr. Christine Vogler, ILRS Coordinator,

The application process is handled exclusively online. Please acquaint yourself with the scientific projects offered on our website and thoroughly follow the instructions for the online application process:

Deadline for application: November 17, 2015.

Successful applicants will be invited to attend a recruitment meeting in Jena (envisaged date: Jan 13-15, 2016).


Art des Bewerbungszugangs
Online application at
Kontakt f├╝r Bewerbungen
Dr. Christine Vogler,

Details der Stellenanzeige

Befristete Anstellung
Berufserfahrung nicht vorausgesetzt
Deutschland (Th├╝ringen)
07745 Jena
Biologie & Life Sciences