Controlled growth of uniformly sized microcrystals, optimised for time-resolved crystallographic experiments (ESR8)

Applications are invited for an Early Stage Researcher (ESR)/PhD studentship position funded by The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) Innovative Training Networks (ITN) programme Rationalising Membrane Protein Crystallisation (RAMP) and based at the University of Hamburg in the Centre for Free Electron Laser Science.

This project aims to explore the use of microfluidic and chip-based approaches to optimise methods for the controlled crystallization of a uniform population of membrane protein crystals in the 10-20 µm range for time-resolved serial crystallographic experiments using both FEL and synchrotron X-radiation. Particular challenges include investigating how crystallization feedback monitoring tools must be adjusted for work on light-sensitive, photocaged crystals, and developing a chip/microfluidic set-up to allow either in situ diffraction experiments, or easy sample transfer. The initial targets will be the crystallization of membrane transporters, with the V. cholerae concentrative nucleoside transporter (CNT) and B. subtilis thiamine transporter (YkoE). The successful candidate will join a vibrant, interdisciplinary research group developing methods for all aspects of time-resolved structural biology based on the Bahrenfeld research campus in Hamburg.

The PhD project is one of 12 in this training network. The project will involve secondments to other network partners with specialised protein production, crystallisation and crystallography expertise, or derived applications.

Applicants should have a BSc in Biochemistry/Chemistry/Biophysics/ Nanoscience or a related discipline and an associated Masters or an equivalent level of professional qualifications or experience. Knowledge and experience of protein crystallization and membrane proteins is desirable, but not essential.

Candidates must comply with EU eligibility criteria. Due to the EU rules to promote mobility, you are not eligible for a position in a country where you have lived (worked, studies) form more than 12 months in the last 3 years. So for this position you are eligible, unless you have studied or worked in Germany for more than 12 of the last 36 months. For applicants finishing or who have just finished their degree, this typically means that you can be graduating from any university except a German university.

Further details on this project are available from Prof. Arwen Pearson (

Author: Richard Sear

Computational physicist at the University of Surrey. My research interests are in crystallisation, soft matter & biological physics