PhD position: Bacterial RNA biology in the gut microbiota: Germany

The research group “Host-Pathogen-Microbiota Interaction” (HOPI) of Jun. Prof. Alex Westermann at the Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based infection research (HIRI) in Würzburg (Germany) is offering a PhD position:  “Bacterial RNA biology in the gut microbiota”.

The Helmholtz Institute for RNA-based Infection Research (HIRI) has been established in May 2017 as joint venture between the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research (HZI) and the Julius Maximilian University of Würzburg (JMU). Located on the Würzburg medical campus, it is the first research institution worldwide to exclusively address the role of ribonucleic acids (RNAs) in infection processes. Based on these findings, the HIRI will pioneer an integrative approach to exploit the vast potential of RNAs as a diagnostic molecule, target and drug for new strategies to combat infectious diseases.

Project description:

The HIRI is recruiting a doctoral researcher to identify and characterize noncoding RNAs and RNA-binding proteins (RBPs) in selected bacterial members of the mammalian gut microbiota. The successful applicant will work with experienced scientists and bioinformaticians to transfer various RNA sequencing-based techniques – already established at the HIRI – to the respective commensal bacterial species. The project will rely on microbiological techniques, RNA-seq data generation, interpretation and validation, and the mechanistic characterization of the resulting RNA and RBP candidates using a variety of biochemical approaches.

The successful applicant will work in the dynamic environment of the HIRI in Würzburg, which is part of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research. The selected doctoral researcher will further be embedded within the highly successful structured doctoral training program of the Graduate School Life Sciences (GSLS) Würzburg (…).


  • Master’s Degree/Diploma in molecular biology, microbiology, immunology, biotechnology, bioinformatics, or a related field
  • Basic practical molecular biological, biochemical and/or microbiological skills
  • Previous experience in infection biology, bacteriology, or RNA biology
  • Strong written and spoken English language communication skills
  • Ability to work independently and as part of an international team
  • A strong desire to do research, enthusiastic, creative, and highly self-motivated

Desired (non-essential) background:

  • Previous experience working with large-scale biological data sets, particularly RNA-seq
  • Familiarity with the microbiome
  • Knowledge of a scripting language (Python, Perl, etc.) and R

For more details regarding the PhD project, please contact Jun. Prof. Alex Westermann via e-mail:

Further details
Share this opportunity