PhD Candidate in Biological Chemistry (novel gene-editing tools)

Deadline: January 27, 2019

The Department of Chemistry seeks a motivated and enthusiastic PhD candidate to join the Research Group in Macromolecular Chemistry. As a successful applicant, your project will focus on discovery of novel RNA-guided nucleases for genome editing of fish. As a member of the project group, you will work directly with a small ambitious team aiming to develop biotechnological tools for DNA modification and recombinant production of target biomolecules in low-temperature systems.

Research groups at the Department of Chemistry study the structure and reactivity of molecules at all levels, ranging from sub-molecular physical properties, through to chemical reactivity and interactions in larger assemblies including the cellular and community levels. The Macromolecular Chemistry group focuses on biomolecules such as proteins, DNA and carbohydrates, using including X-ray crystallography, biochemical assays and various biophysical interactions techniques.

The present appointment is one of three PhD stipends awarded to the interdisciplinary project FISH & CRISPR –Innovative strategies to improve salmon health. As such, you will collaborate closely with molecular and immunology groups from two other faculties, the Faculty of Bioscience, Fisheries and Economics and Faculty of Health Science, in addition to the Faculty of Science and Technology where the Department of Chemistry is located. As a student, you will enter an international and collegial environment, and be enrolled in the Norwegian ‘BioCat Graduate School in Biocatalysis’, which provides top-level graduate courses in both scientific and transferable skills, arranges national PhD conferences and offers generous travel stipends for student research visits to collaborator laboratories (see

The appointment is for a period of 4 years. The nominal length of the PhD program is three years. The fourth year is distributed as 25 % of each year, and will consist of teaching or other duties for the department.

For further information on the project, please contact Prof Hanna-Kirsti Leiros (hanna-kirsti.leiros(

Field of research

The focus of your project will be identification of possible RNA-guided nucleases in bacterial genomes, followed by recombinant production and in vitro characterization of these enzymes. You will implement a bioinformatic workflow employing existing tools to identify target genes, recombinantly express encoded proteins in both standard E. colisystems and using proprietary expression hosts developed at UiT. These proteins will be purified using chromatography and characterized for optimal gRNA PAM and protospacer sequences, as well as biophysical parameters such as stability. You will then utilize cell-based assays developed by collaborators to verify the efficacy of these nucleases in vivo and work toward eventual tool-development for whole organisms. Structural studies of novel nucleases and/ or other enzymes with application in gene editing may also be pursued.

Qualification requirements

You must hold a Master’s degree or equivalent in Molecular Biology, Biological Chemistry (or equivalent) with an average of C or better according to the Norwegian system. You must have good academic performance, analytical and collaboration skills, and a genuine interest for performing research. This will be demonstrated through your Master’s thesis/ other academic works, and academic record. Personal suitability and motivation will also be considered. Proficiency in a Scandinavian language will be favoured due to teaching obligations.

Prior work in aforementioned protein chemistry/ molecular biology techniques will be regarded positively, but willingness to learn is key. Documented laboratory experience in general molecular biology/ chemistry methods (obtained either through academic courses, project work or employment) is essential: applicants with only computational backgrounds (bioinformatics or modelling) and no wet-lab qualifications will not be considered.

You must be able to document proficiency in English that satisfies the Norwegian Higher Education Entrance Qualification, either as a native language, via undergraduate education in a Nordic country, or by test scores as described below. Further details about requirements for admission to PhD studies see International applicants from non-Nordic countries (except students with English as their mother tongue), must document proficiency as described below.


Your application must include:

  • CV and application letter
  • Diplomas and transcripts from your Bachelor and Master degrees or equivalent
  • Diploma supplement for completed degrees: applicants from foreign universities are advised to attach an explanation of the grading system
  • Documentation on English language proficiency for PhD-studies: Departmental requirements state a score of 6.5 on each part of the IELTS test, or at least 22, 22, 22 and 25 (reading, listening, speaking and writing respectively) on the TOEFL test.
  • Master thesis or equivalent
  • A statement of performed research and other works (published or unpublished), which you wish us to take into consideration during the assessment process. Your own contribution to each work has to be described.
  • A list of 2-3 persons giving references with their contact information (name, connection with applicant, email address, telephone number).

Letters of recommendation may be sent in addition to the above documents.

Qualification with a Master’s degree is required before commencement. For those who are near to completion of their Master’s degree, submit a draft version of the thesis. You must have completed before the planned startup-date.

All documentation must be in English or a Scandinavian language or a certified translation provided. Submit applications electronically through Jobbnorge (


The assessment will consider motivation and personal suitability for the position, in addition to the above documentation. You must be willing to engage in the ongoing development of your discipline and the university as a whole. During the assessment process, emphasis will be put on your potential for research as shown by the Master’s thesis and other academic works, relevant research experience and academic performance and teaching experience and/or qualifications. Teaching experience and/or qualifications will be considered an advantage. In addition, we may consider work experience or other activities of significance for the PhD studies.

Terms of employment

Remuneration of PhD positions are in salary code 1017, and normally start at salary grade 51 on the pay scale for Norwegian state employees. There is a 2% deduction for contribution to the Norwegian Public Service Pension Fund.

You have to be qualified for and participate in our PhD study program. If you already hold a PhD or have equivalent competence, you will be ineligible for the PhD study program.

For more information about moving to Norway, see:


UiT The Arctic University of Norway is an established and internationally recognized university with ~17,000 students and ~4000 employees. The position is organized under the Department of Chemistry at UiT, campus Tromsø, and the work place will be at the Norwegian Structural Biology Centre (NorStruct, ).

UiT has HR policy objectives that emphasize diversity, and encourages all qualified applicants to apply regardless of their age, gender, functional ability and national or ethnic background. The university is an IW (Inclusive Workplace) enterprise, and we will emphasize making the necessary adaptations to the working conditions for employees with reduced functional ability.

We will make the appointment in accordance with the regulations in force concerning State Employees and Civil Servants, and guidelines at UiT. At our website, you will find more information for applicants.

We process personal data given in an application or CV in accordance with the Personal Data Act. You may request to not be registered on the public list of applicants, but the University may decide that your name will be made public. You will receive advance notification in the event of such publication.

In case of discrepancies between the Norwegian and the English version of this description, the Norwegian version takes precedence.

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