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PhD in Metabolic Engineering and Synthetic Biochemistry

Danmarks Tekniske Universitet


The Systems Environmental Microbiology group at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability (DTU Biosustain), Technical University of Denmark (DTU), invites motivated students to apply for a 3-year Ph.D. fellowship in the field of Metabolic Engineering and Synthetic Biochemistry.

The proposed project aims at expanding the biochemical landscape of bacterial cell factories to access new-to-Nature products through the implementation of synthetic metabolism, both in vitro and in bacterial cell factories. The successful applicant shall work independently on the development of high-impact research projects in which a significant workload is expected to advance the research successfully. The candidate will work within a team to develop their independent project, while also contributing to projects of other team members. From a broader perspective, the selected candidate will implement state-of-the-art methods in Metabolic Engineering and Synthetic Biochemistry to design, construct, and improve the performance of bacterial cell factories. The proposed starting date is 1 May 2019.

Responsibilities and tasks

The appointed person will be expected to (i) work to tight deadlines and manage multiple projects, (ii) interact with other researchers at the SEM Group and the Center for Biosustainability, and other leading partner institutions, (iii) interact in a professional manner with industrial partners in a highly multidisciplinary environment, (iv) report regularly both in the form of written reports and oral presentations (both internally and in conferences), (v) support the research team through training and supervision of other researchers and students, (vi) write scientific papers to high standard, and (vii) actively engage in drafting project proposals and applications.

Responsibilities for this Ph.D. position include, among other tasks:

  • Wet-lab work on Molecular Biology and Synthetic Biology, especially pathway engineering. Phenotypic and metabolic analysis of microbial hosts will be carried out on a regular basis.
  • In vitro reconstruction of synthetic pathways.
  • Biochemical analysis and high-throughput analytics, including LC-MS/MS analysis (targeted metabolomics and proteomics), NMR, and GC-MS/MS analysis.
  • Supervision of M.Sc. and B.Sc. students.


Candidates should have a B.Sc. and M.Sc. degree in Biology, Biotechnology or a closely related field.

Further qualifications:
  • Previous experience in Metabolic Engineering will be positively evaluated.
  • Experience in an industrial environment, as well as hands-on experience in biochemical analysis.
  • Excellent interpersonal, networking, and communication skills required to work in a highly-international research environment.
  • Team spirit and social skills, demonstrated through collaborations with academic partners and, if possible, research internships abroad.
  • Ambition to carry research independently, to plan and execute experimental tasks, and also to be part of a larger international research team. Strong attention to detail in every day's lab situations is a must.

Approval and Enrolment

The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.

We offer

DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and terms of employment

The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

The work place will be the Novo Nordisk Center for Biosustainability, located in the Lyngby campus of DTU (Building 220).

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information

Further information may be obtained from Dr. Pablo Ivan Nikel-Mayer, phone: +45 9351 1918, e-mail:

You can read more about the center on

Application procedure

Please submit your online application no later than 29 March 2019 (local time). Applications must be submitted as a single PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online," fill in the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:
  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here)

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability is an international research center at the Technical University of Denmark funded by a grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation. The center conducts research in metabolic engineering of cell factories, in silico systems biology, metagenomics, and plant biochemistry with the purpose of developing new processes and technologies that can support a more sustainable bio-based production of valuable chemicals in the future. The Center brings together some of the world's leading researchers in the field and will possess the advanced equipment and facilities required for achieving its ambitious research goals. Impact on society by innovation has a high priority and the Center collaborates worldwide with biotech companies and chemical industries to facilitate the dissemination and exploitation of its results. Additional information can be found at

DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 6,000 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society, and our 11,200 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent academic university collaborating globally with business, industry, government and public agencies.

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