PhD Position in Translational Kidney Research


Applications are invited for a PhD position at the intersection of basic and translational kidney research. The position is fully funded by a grant from the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNF).

Your responsibilities

Congenital anomalies of the kidney and urinary tract (CAKUT) are among the most common malformations detected in humans. Nevertheless, the genetic underlying causes remain poorly understood and molecular diagnosis is only possible in 20% of the cases. As correct molecular diagnosis remains essential for developing new treatment paradigms and patient genetic counseling, the elucidation of novel players in CAKUT is of major clinical relevance.
You will have the opportunity to explore conserved transcriptional regulatory networks in kidney organogenesis gaining experience with two distinct model systems:

1) Amphibian Xenopus tropicalis embryos, which can be genetically modified and serve as an excellent rapid in vivo system for kidney development. You will explore the role of potential novel players in kidney organogenesis by hands-on CRISPR/Cas9 and exciting cutting-edge light-sheet microscopy.

2) Directly reprogrammed renal tubule cells, which are obtained from a direct cell type conversion protocol (Kaminski et al., Nature Cell Biology, 2016 Dec;18(12):1269-1280). This cellular system will allow you to perform a more mechanistic exploration of novel players in kidney organogenesis.
Addressing these goals, the project feeds directly into longstanding collaborations with clinical geneticists to uncover the molecular mechanisms of inherited kidney disease and potentially improve patient quality of life in the long-term.
The project will allow you to gain expertise with following methods and technologies:

  • Disease modeling in Xenopus tropicalis using CRISPR/Cas9 genome editing.
  • Transcriptomic analysis using NGS pipelines.
  • Advanced microscopy, including Light-Sheet Microscopy.
  • Analyzing microscopy datasets by computer vision (deep learning segmentation and feature recognition with neural networks)
  • Classical embryological techniques.

Your profile

We seek an enthusiastic individual with the ability to work both independently, as well as to function in a team-oriented setting. You should have a profound interest in developmental biology and general curiosity in the intricacies of life’s beginnings. Applicants are encouraged to highlight any relevant prior research experience that could be relevant.

What we offer

Our young, energetic, and well-funded research team values collaboration, open communication, and an inspiring work environment. We offer an exciting research project at the intersection of basic and translational research in an international team with access to state-of-the-art scientific infrastructure and core facilities. Our group is well integrated in the National Center of Competence in Research (NCCR) Kidney.CH which offers an excellent infrastructure and professional network of kidney research groups both in Switzerland and internationally.

You will work in collaboration with an experienced Postdoc, and join the Zurich Life Science Graduate School program of Molecular Life Sciences (Track 2) and will thus have access to a wide variety of courses and the possibilities to acquire both hard and soft skills, as well as attend networking events.

Place of work

Prof. Dr. Soeren Lienkamp
University of Zurich
Institute of Anatomy
Winterthurerstrasse 190 (Irchel Campus)
CH-8057 Zurich

Start of employment

August, 1st 2020.
Applications of highly motivated candidates containing in a single pdf file, including a cover letter that highlights past accomplishments (not necessary research related), CV, and recommendation letters or contact details of 2 references should be sent per email to
Prof. Dr. Soeren Lienkamp ( Please send in your application before May, 31st 2020.