IMPRS-IDI Call for Applications 2022

- call is closed -

Thank you for your interest in our graduate school. The application platform for our PhD student recruitment in 2022 will open on November 22nd 2021. The deadline for applications is January 2nd  2022, midnight CET. Here, you can find all proposed PhD projects for the IMPRS-IDI call 2022.

We are recruiting up to 8 PhD students for the International Max Planck Research School for Infectious Diseases and Immunology in this call. Our graduate school offers:

  • outstanding research and training opportunities with access to state-of-the-art facilities
  • an excellent scientific network - our faculty members are internationally recognized scientists affiliated with renowned research institutes and universities in Berlin and around the world
  • a graduate school program with flexible curriculum structure and training courses and lectures on scientific topics as well as technical and complementary skills
  • a stimulating international and multi-disciplinary research environment on a thriving campus in the heart of Berlin

We are looking for highly motivated candidates of all nationalities who are truly committed to research from the following disciplines:

  • Infection biology
  • Immunology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular and cell biology
  • Microbiology
  • Genetics & Genomics
  • Evolutionary Biology
  • Bioinformatics
  • Medical Biotechnology

This year, the IMPRS-IDI is recruiting PhD researchers in a joint call with the Center of Infection Biology and Immunity (the ZIBI). A further 4 projects are available with the ZIBI graduate school. Find out more here.

Open PhD Projects

The following PhD projects are available in 2022 (earliest possible start in May 2022):

Bartfeld Lab: Innate immune recognition in the gastrointestinal epithelium – Organoids as host model

Diefenbach Lab: The role of ILC3 and of IL-22 for liver regeneration

Iatsenko Lab: Deciphering mechanisms of innate immune responses using Drosophila melanogaster as a model

Key Lab: Within-person evolution of the human microbiome

Levashina Lab: Role of lipids in malaria transmission

Majer Lab: Decoding Toll-like receptor signaling decisions from endosomal membranes

Ralser Lab: Improving the treatment of fungal infections – screening for antifungal drug boosters

Taylor Lab: Visualizing immune cell activation at single molecule resolution

Bartfeld Lab: Innate immune recognition in the gastrointestinal epithelium – Organoids as host model

The epithelial cells of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract are in constant contact with microbial products and have to balance tolerance of commensals and defense against pathogens. To sense the microbial world, epithelial cells are equipped with innate immune receptors, such as toll like receptors or inflammasomes. Our group uses adult stem cell derived organoids to better understand epithelial innate immunity and the host response to infection. Organoids are 3-dimensional, primary cell cultures. Analyzing human and murine GI organoids, we found that innate immune receptor expression is highly organized in the GI tract: Each segment of the GI tract expresses a specific set of innate immune receptors. We now wonder, how this spatial organization develops and how this impacts the defense against pathogens. In this project, we will use CRISPR/Cas9-mediated genetic modification of human GI organoids to analyze the impact of specific genes on innate immune receptor expression. We will further use infection models, such as EPEC infection of human intestinal organoids, to better understand the importance of innate immune recognition in infection.

To find out more about the Bartfeld Lab (Institute for Medical Biotechnology, TU Berlin).

Diefenbach Lab: The role of ILC3 and of IL-22 for liver regeneration

Innate lymphoid cells (ILC) are tissue-resident innate lymphocytes that are involved in immunity to infections but are also deeply integrated in the regulation of tissue function. Based on our preliminary and on published data (Gronke, Nature 2019; Guendel, Immunity 2020; Diefenbach, Immunity 2020), we hypothesize that ILC regulate the function of non-hematopoietic cells to adapt organ function. In this project, we are exploring the role of ILC3 and of IL-22 in liver regeneration. Our preliminary data show that liver regeneration is dependent on IL-22. We have already obtained a high resolution scRNAseq atlas of the regenerating liver of wildtype mice and of IL-22-deficient mice that reveal molecular network of IL-22-dependent regeneration. Three key questions will be addressed: (1) How is IL-22 production regulated during liver regeneration? Preliminary data reveal an neuron-ILC-hepatocyte axis that controls hepatocyte differentiation and renewal. (2) Which key regenerative pathways in hepatocytes are controlled by IL-22? Key data indicate that IL-22 signaling promotes a Wnt-driven regenerative program. (3) Can IL-22 be used to promote liver regeneration? We use mouse genetics combined with CRISPR/Cas9-driven lineage tracing/barcoding and high dimensional single cell genomics.

To find out more about the Diefenbach Lab (Institute of Microbiology, Charité Universitätsmedizin Berlin) .

Iatsenko Lab: Deciphering mechanisms of innate immune responses using Drosophila melanogaster as a model

The Iatsenko Lab at the Max Planck Institute for Infection Biology (Berlin, Germany) is looking for a motivated PhD student to study host-microbe or microbe-microbe interactions in the Drosophila model. We are seeking highly qualified and motivated applicants with strong experimental lab skills in the fields of Drosophila genetics, molecular biology, or microbiology. Candidates with interests in mechanisms of microbial pathogenesis and microbe-microbe interactions (microbiologist) or the regulation of innate immune responses (Drosophila geneticist) are encouraged to apply.

To find out more about the Iatsenko Lab

Key Lab: Within-person evolution of the human microbiome

The human microbiome describes the entirety of microbes on an individual and its establishment has important implications for human health. The human microbiome contains trillions of microbes, which harbor an enormous adaptive potential, generating millions of new mutations every day. However, we have a very limited understanding about the role of the species-specific genetic variability for colonization and perturbation of the human microbiome throughout life.

Here we will use whole-genome sequencing of cultured bacterial isolates combined with metagenomics from individuals to reconstruct the genetic drivers behind persistent colonization and perturbations during health and disease. A better understanding of the genetic mechanisms provides the basis for the development of new strategies to support the establishment of a healthy human microbiome.

Therefore, we are looking for a motivated student to work at the interface of microbiology (incl. robotic automation) and computational genetics in our lab. The ideal candidate has knowledge in a programming language (python, bash, R etc.) and a background in microbiology, genetics, bioinformatics, evolutionary biology or neighboring disciplines.

To find out more about the Key Lab

Levashina Lab: Role of lipids in malaria transmission

Lipids are essential building blocks of life. Our previous studies showed that mosquito lipids are essential for malaria transmission. However, the molecular mechanisms involved in this process on the side of the malaria parasite remain unknown. This project will address this question by combining cell biology, functional gene and metabolomics approaches. Identification of the parasite lipid requirements should generate new concepts for disease control and prevention.

To find out more about the Levashina Lab

Majer Lab: Decoding Toll-like receptor signaling decisions from endosomal membranes

Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are vital pattern-recognition receptors for detecting conserved features of pathogens and responding to infection. A subgroup of TLRs senses nucleic acids from within late endosomes, including the DNA-sensor TLR9. Depending on the physical properties of the DNA ligand, TLR9 can induce two distinct types of immune responses: a pro-inflammatory cytokine response or an anti-viral interferon (IFN) response. Aberrant interferon responses can drive debilitating immunopathologies, including autoimmune disease and interferonopathies. Being able to selectively target the IFN pathway without interfering with the general ability to produce inflammatory cytokines could be an attractive therapeutic strategy. Previous studies have suggested that these two signaling branches emanate from distinct subsets of endosomes, both of which contain TLR9 but recruit unique signaling components downstream of receptor activation. However, we are still lacking a clear definition of what these specialized signaling endosomes are, where they are located in the cell and how their differential utilization is being regulated. Come and join us to investigate which factors and mechanisms shape these signaling decisions of endosomal TLR9. You will learn how to approach and solve a long-standing question in the field, work with primary cell culture systems and mouse models, and use Crispr/Cas9-genome editing, advanced imaging and biochemical techniques.

To find out more about the Majer Lab

Ralser Lab: Improving the treatment of fungal infections - screening for antifungal drug boosters

Fungal infections are on the rise, and are killing more people than malaria. Yet, there are only three classes of antifungals in clinical use, but these regularly fail, partially, because the pathogens are resistant or tolerant to the anti-fungal drugs. We have developed new drug screening technologies based on high-throughput proteomics. This PhD thesis is to find new adjuvant drugs that boost the efficacy of known antifungals, and in this way, improve the treatment of fungal infections. With the Ralser lab, you'll be joining a world-leading laboratory in large-scale proteomics and fungal biology that is funded by the ERC, the EC, the Wellcome Trust, the DFG, the BMBF, and EMBO, and that has received numerous awards for their work on metabolism.

To find out more about the Ralser Lab (Institute for Biochemistry)

Taylor Lab: Visualizing immune cell activation at single molecule resolution

The Taylor laboratory is interested in how immune cells decode chemical information. We aim to understand how immunological signaling molecules self-organize to detect and respond to the molecular signals of disease and infection. We have developed assays and approaches that allow us to visualize immune signalling at the single-molecule level within live cells. Our scientific vision is to leverage a detailed understanding of the biochemistry of immune cell signaling to eventually reprogram and control immune cells.

We are looking for an enthusiastic and highly motivated PhD student to join our research group. The student will have the opportunity to work and develop projects examining the molecular mechanisms of innate immune signaling.

This position is suited to candidates with a strong background in biophysics, biochemistry, or cell biology. Candidates with firm computational and data analysis skills are also strongly encouraged to apply.

Research in your Ph.D. will include (but is not limited to):

  • Molecular biological and biochemical methods (cloning, protein purification, fluorophore labeling, etc.)
  • Cutting-edge fluorescence microscopy techniques (TIRF, confocal microscopy, and single-molecule methods, etc.)
  • Developing and applying advanced image analysis pipelines in R and Python programming languages.
  • Using cutting-edge genetic engineering techniques (such as CRISPR/Cas9).

To find out more about the Taylor Lab




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