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PhD Thesis Student (m/f) Subject: Membrane Protein Nano-diffraction and Serial Crystallography Ref EUCFR205
Employer: ESRF
Location: Grenoble, France
Employment Start Date: As soon as possible

Organization Description:

The ESRF is a multinational research institute, situated in Grenoble, France and financed by 19 countries mostly European. It operates a powerful synchrotron X-ray source with some 30 beamlines (instruments) covering a wide range of scientific research in fields such as biology and medicine, chemistry, earth and environmental sciences, materials and surface science, and physics. The ESRF employs about 600 staff and is organized as a French société civile.

Job Description:

Join the ESRF to develop nano-beam serial crystallography techniques applied to membrane proteins. With the support of the Marie Curie Initial Training Network “NanoMem”, the project should be carried out using the Microfocus Beamline ID13 where macromolecular micro-crystallography has been established already more than a decade ago. Recently, X-rays focused down to the 100 nm range, so-called “nano-beams”, became available for scanning diffraction techniques applied to micro-crystals.

As a Marie Curie Initial Training Network Early Stage Researcher you will participate in collaborative experiments, secondments, and training events across the network.

While structure determination of membrane proteins can be one of the critical steps to be mastered before achieving breakthroughs in life science and medicine, it is also a notoriously difficult and time consuming procedure. This is mainly due to intrinsic problems with growing stable crystals which are suitable for structure analysis using standard X-ray crystallography techniques. However, in many cases it takes much less efforts to obtain large numbers of small crystals in the micron and even sub-micron range. The proposed project aims at combining nano-diffraction with data collection techniques following the serial crystallography approach. These methods should be developed using suitable protein micro-crystals of which the structure is already known. Using these test systems, limiting factors such as beam parameters, and sample quality/quantity shall be explored. At a later stage, the established technique shall be applied to systems with unknown structure. In the course of this project the existing setup for in-situ optical tweezers based crystal manipulation inside micro-fluidic environments should be adapted for serial micro-crystal data collection.


The working language of the ESRF is English. You should hold a degree in Physics, Chemistry/Bio-Chemistry, or in a related Field allowing enrolment for a PhD, such as an MSc, Master 2 de Recherche, Laurea or equivalent.

Marie Curie grants are designed to promote mobility of young scientists. Applicants therefore cannot be French, nor can they have lived in France for more than 12 months of the last three years.

Contract of two years renewable (subject to satisfactory progress) for one year. Monthly gross remuneration: 2286 €.

Job Application:

For further information on employment terms and conditions, please refer to The ESRF is an equal opportunity employer and encourages applications from disabled persons.

If you are interested in this position, please apply on-line at this address:

Ref. EUCFR205 - Deadline for returning application forms:
20 February 2013

Date Posted: January 21, 2013