Doctoral Candidate / Project Researcher (Immunometabolism)

 


Cecilia Söderberg-Nauclér, Professor at the Institute of Biomedicine, is looking for a Doctoral Candidate interested in immunometabolism to join her research group at MediCity Research Laboratory for a fixed-term position until the end of 2024. The successful applicant is expected to begin the work as soon as possible, but starting date is negotiable.

Research group is part of the University of Turku Research Flagship InFLAMES: Innovation Ecosystem based on the Immune System, funded by the Academy of Finland. The Flagship organizes doctoral training for the doctoral candidates of InFLAMES-affiliated research groups focusing on the fields of immunology, immunology-based drug development and/or diagnostics. For more information, please visit the University of Turku webpage of the InFLAMES doctoral module.

Research project

Chronic inflammatory diseases are the most significant causes of death worldwide, and considered by WHO to be the greatest threat to human health. Three of five people die due to chronic inflammatory diseases like stroke, chronic respiratory diseases, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, obesity, and diabetes. In addition, arthritis, joint diseases, SLE, inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), multiple sclerosis (MS), obesity, type 2 diabetes as well as allergies are major causes of human suffering leading to decrease in the quality of life and inability to work. These diseases are driven by an overactivated immune system, which leads to chronic inflammation and tissue destruction.

Research project lead by Professor Cecilia Söderberg-Nauclér focuses on immunometabolism and deals with mechanistic studies aiming to understand how changes in cellular metabolism alter immune cell functions with a long term goal to identify new prevention and treatment strategies for chronic inflammatory diseases. This new and exciting research field, immunometabolism, has in recent years provided new insights into how TCA cycle metabolites act as signaling molecules to control immune cell effector functions and how the TCA cycle is repurposed to produce inflammatory cytokines. These metabolic alterations are often referred to as the Warburg effect, which describes the metabolic changes that are observed in M1 type macrophages, dendritic cells and proliferating T cells, and interlink nutrition to the activation of immune functions.

The Warburg effect, first described in cancer cells, appears to be essential to life, by representing an alternative mode of energy production needed in cells dividing fast, or in immune cells for the production of inflammatory cytokines. Slowly replicating viruses have taken an advantage of the Warburg effect to obtain an optimal cellular environment for virus replication. Therefore, studying the viral effects on cellular metabolism can lead to a new understanding about the key mechanisms that control the Warburg effect and downstream immune functions.

Doctoral Candidate will study how cytomegalovirus induces mitochondrial changes and the Warburg effect. The identified altered signaling pathways will be targeted by drugs and new knowledge will be implemented to control the activation of macrophages, dendritic cells and T cells. Understanding the basic metabolic mechanisms that control immune functions in greater depth, could lead to the development of new prevention and treatment strategies for chronic inflammatory diseases.

Qualifications

A person selected for the post of Doctoral Candidate is required to have a higher university degree in immunology, biomedicine, or other relevant discipline. The degree must be completed by the end of the application period. Research experience in immunology/virology or metabolic research and adequate practical familiarity with relevant research methods, or motivation and interest to learn are required. The candidate should be highly motivated to aim at PhD, have good communication skills, and the ability to work productively in a team of international researchers. Fluency in English is a requirement.

The qualification requirements of the position are available on the University of Turku Rules of Procedure. In case the selected candidate does not yet have the right to study for a doctoral degree at the University of Turku, the title of Project researcher will be used at first, and the study right for a doctoral degree should be applied in the next possible call: University of Turku Graduate School (UTUGS) and Doctoral Programmes.

Salary

The salary offered is determined in accordance with the university salary system for teaching and research personnel. For a doctoral candidate/project researcher, the salary is at levels 2-4 on the job demands chart, where the task-specific salary component is approx. 2 078,27 - 2 591,28 euro per month. In addition, a personal work performance component will be paid. The personal performance component is a 6% – 50% of the task-specific base salary.

A six (6) month trial period applies to the positions.

What to do next

Applications must be submitted on 22 March 2022 at the latest (23.59.59 Finnish time) via the University of Turku electronic application form at www.utu.fi/careers. The link to the electronic application form is located at the beginning of the announcement (Apply for the job).

In your application, please include

  • a personal statement or motivation letter containing a description of your scientific background and research interests (max. 2 pages)
  • a CV (max. 2 pages)
  • degree certificates
  • a list of publications (if applicable)

For further information about the position, please contact please contact Professor Cecilia Söderberg Nauclér, cecilia.naucler@utu.fi

Regarding the recruitment process, please contact HR Specialist Kristiina Nuutila, kristiina.nuutila@utu.fi, Tel. +358 503135224

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