PhD Positions in Nutritional Breath Metabolomics
ETH Zurich Department of Chemistry and Applied Biosciences

PhD Student Positions in Nutritional Breath Metabolomics

100%, Zurich, fixed-term

We seek to fill 2 PhD positions in the framework of a project funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation in the areas of on-line exhaled breath analysis and nutrition. The primary scientific aim of the Lactobreath project is to apply metabolomics technologies for identifying and quantifying metabolites associated with lactose metabolism and present in exhaled breath. The project will be carried out in collaboration with Agroscope (Liebefeld Campus), University Hospital Zurich, and the Swiss Allergy Centre (aha!). The duration of the position is three years, and starting date is expected to be immediately or upon mutual agreement.

Project background

Food intolerances are a major cause of functional gastrointestinal disorders, and while they can be managed by dietary intervention, correct diagnosis is essential for effective treatment. This interdisciplinary project will investigate the molecular composition of human exhaled breath as a potential source of biomarkers reporting on the clinical traits associated with lactose malabsorption (LM) (Lactobreath profiles) as a proof-of-concept for future application of this technology in the diagnosis of food intolerance. The identified breath biomarkers will be investigated in relation to lactose malabsorption symptoms, usual diet, and clinical traits associated with lactose malabsorption, including genetic polymorphisms regulating the expression of the lactase gene, breath hydrogen, and lactose-derived urinary metabolites. Lactobreath profiles will be mechanistically linked with metabolic traits associated with lactose malabsorption, including colonic gases and urine metabolome.

Job description

You are expected to conduct interdisciplinary research in human nutrition and analytical chemistry. Affinity for human nutritional interventions and laboratory work is essential. The job duties include:

  • to conduct a nutritional intervention study
  • to conduct lab analysis
  • to conduct statistical analysis of the acquired data
  • to publish and present your research findings

The distribution of the research tasks will be determined based on the complementarity of the profiles of the two recruited PhD students.

Your profile

You should have an MSc degree in chemistry or nutrition, a strong background in analytical chemistry, nutritional science, biochemistry, or related area, experience in bioinformatics, and an interest in developing modern mass spectrometry. Communication capability in English is a must.

Your workplace

We offer

We offer exciting and future-oriented projects in highly motivated research groups with excellent experimental and laboratory facilities. Supervision will be close but allows independent work. Scientific writing and participation in scientific conferences are very much supported. 

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We value diversity

In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

Curious? So are we.

We look forward to receiving your online application with the following documents:

  • your CV, including a publication list
  • transcripts & grades
  • a statement (up to 1,000 words) describing your motivation, experience, and planned contributions to the position
  • 2 letters of recommendation 

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Applications via email or postal services will not be considered.

Further information about our group can be found on our website. Questions regarding the position should be directed to Dr. Stamatios Giannoukos (  and/or Prof. Dr. Renato Zenobi ( 

About ETH Zürich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.

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