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  Cell-penetrating peptide uptake mechanisms - PhD position in cell biology at the University of Lausanne starting August 2023

   Department of Biomedical Sciences

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  Prof Christian Widmann  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

Cell-penetrating peptides (CPPs) allow the intracellular delivery of cargo molecules that are hooked to them. They are used in biology and medicine for therapeutic or research purposes. CPPs are taken up by cells by direct translocation across the plasma membrane and by endocytosis, the two processes occurring concomitantly. CPPs can be found in anti-cancer and anti-microbial peptides but also in important signaling proteins such as homeoproteins. Despite their potential practical applications, the mechanisms of CPP entry inside cells are ill-defined and even controversial. The current focus of our laboratory is to characterize the mechanism of CPP cell entry via direct translocation or via endocytosis and how they escape endosomes when they use this later entry route. We also investigate how physiological molecules that naturally bear cell-penetrating sequences, such as homeoproteins, enter cells.

We are now seeking to recruit highly motivated PhD students to investigate the mechanistic aspects of cell-penetrating peptide (CPP) entry into cells. The PhD students will in particular work on a newly identified endocytic pathway that we have discovered and that needs now to be further characterized at the molecular, mechanistic, and physiological levels using state-of-the art imaging, biochemical and genetic approaches.

Please refer to our Research page for information on the ways CPPs enter cells and watch our movie on youtube for an animated description about our latest findings. Information on our research group can be found on our webpage.

To apply, please provide:

•      CV (one page max)

•      Names, emails and addresses of 2-3 reference persons

•      Letter of intent (one page max). Your past experience can be succinctly described but I am more interested in why you want to join my laboratory, what you want to investigate in my research group and how you would like to achieve this. Also detail why you think you are a good candidate for these PhD positions.

Important note: applications that do not strictly abide to the above instructions will be automatically discarded

Biological Sciences (4)

Funding Notes

This position is available August 1, 2023, for 1 year in the first instance with the possibility of two extensions of 2 years each.


Evgeniya Trofimenko, Yuta Homma, Mitsunori Fukuda, Christian Widmann. The endocytic pathway taken by cationic substances requires Rab14 but not Rab5 and Rab7. Cell Reports 37:109945 (2021)
Evgeniya Trofimenko, Gianvito Grasso, Mathieu Heulot, Nadja Chevalier, Marco Deriu, Gilles Dubuis, Yoan Arribat, Marc Serulla, Sébastien Michel, Gil Vantomme, Florine Ory, Linh Chi Dam, Julien Puyal, Francesca Amati, Anitha Lüthi, Andrea Danani, and Christian Widmann. Genetic, cellular, and structural characterization of the membrane potential-dependent cell-penetrating peptide translocation pore eLife 10:e69832 (2021)