PhD Position in Dynamic epigenetic regulation of leptin gene expression during positive and negative energy balance

The Graduiertenkolleg 1957 “Adipocyte-Brain Crosstalk” was established in 2014 with the funding from the German Research Foundation. It aims at providing structured doctoral training at the interface of neuroscience, biology and translational medicine. The DFG-funded Graduiertenkolleg 1957 “Adipocyte-Brain Crosstalk” studies the effects of adipose tissue hormones on CNS function and, in turn, the control of adipose tissue physiology by the brain. We are looking for highly motivated candidates for the following PhD project (supervisors in brackets). Tentative start: May 2020. Earlier start date from January 2020 could be discussed with the PIs in the interview.

Activities and responsibilities

Supervisor: Dr. Henriette Kirchner, Medical Clinic I

Project Description:

Leptin is an adipocyte derived hormone that regulates glucose and energy homeostasis by binding to its receptor in the brain. A key function of leptin is to signal the brain the amount of peripheral fat, which in turn leads to centrally mediated adaptation of food intake and energy expenditure. Thus, quantitative changes in leptin expression in relation to the current energy status are crucial for this adipocyte-brain-crosstalk. Human and murine studies have shown that leptin mRNA and plasma concentrations tightly correlate with the number and lipid content of adipocytes. Surprisingly, the precise regulation of leptin gene expression in response to physiologic stimuli is not well studied. Over and under abundance of nutrients are associated with changes in DNA methylation and therefore it is plausible that altered DNA-methylation, triggered by nutrient availability, could quantitatively regulated leptin gene expression. We want to find out if leptin mRNA is regulated by DNA methylation in response to changes in fat mass and environmental stimuli. Furthermore, we want to study if the central leptin-receptor-mediated signaling is part of this epigenetic regulation mechanism.

Experimental Methods:
  • Working with biopsies from human adipose tissue
  • Working with mouse models of obesity and insulin resistance (diet-induced obese mice, ob/ob and db/db mice) and intervention strategies (caloric restriction)
  • Phenotyping of mice including measurement of energy expenditure, body composition and body weight
  • Protein, DNA and RNA extraction
  • PCR, qPCR, Immunoblotting
  • Bisulphite-Pyrosequencing for DNA methylation analysis
  • Methylation-sensitive luciferase reporter gene assays, electrophoretic mobility shift assays
  • Chromatin Immunoprecipitation (ChIP)

    Qualification profile

    • Research-based master’s degree or equivalent (e.g. diploma) passed with an above-average grade in neuroscience, biology, biochemistry, molecular life science, nutrition & biomedicine, pharmacology or a related subject (if you are working on the master thesis and expect to graduate until end of 2019/beginning of 2020, you can still apply - please state it in your motivation letter and upload the transcript to date)
    • Excellent English language skills in speaking and writing
    • Pro-active attitude, good communication skills and ability to work independently in an interdisciplinary team

    We offer

    • 3-year employment contract, salaries according to German civil service tariff (TV-L 13, 65%)
    • All research groups are located at the Center of Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM) with state-of-the-art lab facilities incl. MRT scanner, metabolic core unit, LC-MS, microscopy
    • Comprehensive academic support, e.g. project-specific courses, soft skills training, funding for research stays abroad and international conferences, individual career coaching
    • Relaxed life style in city of Lübeck among many UNESCO World Heritage sites and directly on the Baltic Sea coastline and part of the Metropolitan area of Hamburg, Germany's second largest city and home to a wide range of cultural and leisure attractions

    Send application to

    Application deadline: 30.10.2019

    The complete application should include
    • a letter of motivation
    • a detailed CV
    • master's degree certificate AND transcript
    • a summary of the master thesis
    • bachelor's degree certificate AND transcript
    • two letters of recommendation (if you do not have the letters immediately available, please give us the contact details of two referees)
    Documents issued in a language other than English or German must be translated into English AND certified by a public notary/German Consulate with an official seal.

    While applying for the job please refer to jobvector

    About University of Lübeck

    Welcome at the GRK1957 "Adipocyte-Brain Crosstalk"Our DFG funded  Graduiertenkolleg 1957  offers focused research projects and a structured training programme. In an interdisciplinary research approach we address the effects of hormones derived from adipose tissue (adipokines) on CNS function and, in turn, the control of adipose tissue and body weight by the brain. ...
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