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PhD position in Organismal Growth Control

Institute of Cell Biology

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Prof Benjamin Towbin No more applications being accepted Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project

A PhD position is available in the recently established group of Prof. Benjamin Towbin at the Institute of Cell Biology, University of Bern, Switzerland. The group studies how organisms adjust growth, metabolism, and aging to changes in nutritional conditions, combining quantitative live imaging and genetic approaches with C. elegans (see

Project description
When nutrients are scarce, organisms adjust their metabolism to reduce biosynthesis and increase catabolism and tissue repair, slowing down growth and delaying aging. This adjustment is crucial for organismal function, as an imbalance of biosynthesis and catabolism is associated with numerous diseases, such as diabetes, neurological disorders, and cancer. However, it is poorly understood how organisms integrate diverse environmental signals to determine this optimal balance in each of the many environmental conditions they may encounter.
We want to address this question using C. elegans, building on our previous work on optimal control of growth in bacteria (Towbin et al., Nature communications 2017). To this end, we will use synthetic biology tools and genome engineering by CRISPR for the controlled and tissue specific modulation of metabolic signalling pathways, precise quantification of organismal growth by live imaging, and high throughput genetic screens.

We offer
You will join a young, collaborative, and international research team, and obtain extensive training in designing wet lab experiments and in computational data analysis. Our institute provides state-of-the-art facilities for the planned research, including advanced live microscopy and computational infrastructure for image processing. As the capital of Switzerland, Bern provides a high standard of living and is located one hour from major alpine resorts. The position is fully funded for 4 years and you will be part of the graduate school for cellular and biomedical sciences (

Your profile
We look for enthusiastic candidates with a MSc degree in biology, bioengineering, or related fields. You should enjoy genetics, molecular biology, and microscopy, and have an interest in learning computational image and data analysis (using e.g. ImageJ, Matlab, Python). Foremost, we look for passion for our research, curiosity, and pro-activity in learning new skills.

Please apply directly to Prof. Benjamin Towbin by email ([Email Address Removed]) by sending a single pdf with the following information:
1. CV and motivation letter explaining i) why you want to join our lab, ii) what you know, and iii) what you want to learn
2. half a page summary of your MSc research
3. contact information for 2-3 academic references
4. copies of University transcripts

Evaluation of applications will start on 15 August and will continue until the position is filled.


Towbin BD, Korem Y, Bren A, Doron S, Sorek R, Alon U. Optimality and sub-optimality in a bacterial growth law. Nat Commun. 2017;8:14123. Published 2017 Jan 19. doi:10.1038/ncomms14123
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