Research Assistant/PhD Position in Stem Cell Biology
University of Copenhagen Department of Neuroscience

Research Assistant/PhD student in stem cell biology at the Department of Neuroscience

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

University of Copenhagen

  • Position:                           1 year as a Research Assistant + 3 years as PhD student
  • Start:                                 1 September 2021
  • Application deadline:    14 May 2021, 23.59pm CET

The Department of Neuroscience at University of Copenhagen is looking for a Research Assistant subsequently appointed as PhD fellow to join the Human Neural Development group led by PI Agnete Kirkeby. The position is scheduled to commence on the 1st of September 2021 or on a nearby alternative date upon agreement with the chosen candidate. The position as Research Assistant is for 1 year and the subsequent position as PhD fellow is for 3 years.

Research group

The Human Neural Development research team is located at the Department of Neuroscience at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences of University of Copenhagen. Our group works to develop stem cell transplantation therapies for brain disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, dementia and narcolepsy by producing high-purity cultures of subtype-specific human neural cells in the lab and testing these in animal models of disease. We further apply advanced stem cell technologies to study normally inaccessible stages of human brain development as well as to produce models of human brain diseases in the dish (i.e. Parkinson’s Disease, Schizophrenia and hypothalamic disorders).

We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in a dynamic and highly international research environment. Our team currently consists of 14 team members at University of Copenhagen + 4 team members in our sister group at Lund University, coming from 8 different nationalities. Our research facilities at University of Copenhagen are located in a new and modern research building from 2018, and include state-of-the-art laboratories, pleasant office facilities and access to high-quality core facilities in transcriptomics, imaging, flow cytometry and proteomics.

To read more about the team:

Job description

We are seeking a highly motivated and ambitious pre-doctoral candidate with a strong educational background in the field of biotechnology, biomedicine, biology, medicine or bioinformatics. The candidate will enter into a research project aiming to uncover human hypothalamic lineage trajectories with the aim of enabling production of human neurons for treatment of hypothalamic disorders, disease modelling and drug screening with a focus on metabilic and sleep disorders. The candidate will apply stem cell culturing, CRISPR/Cas9 barcoding and single cell RNA sequencing to uncover factors involved in the generation of subtype-specific human hypothalamic neuronal lineages. The purpose of this work is both to understand the complexity of human hypothalamic neuronal subtypes as well as to provide access to valuable cultures of human hypothalamic neurons which will be applied in collaboration with other team members to study the molecular basis for appetite regulation and obesity as well as for the development of a cell therapy for narcolepsy.  

Your key tasks are:

  • Carry out an independent research project under supervision
  • Participate in an active and ambitious research environment with a high degree of collaborative interactions between team members

The technologies you will apply are:

  • Culturing and neural differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells
  • Assessment of neuronal subtypes in the dish through qRT-PCR and immunocytochemistry
  • Flow cytometry and FACS sorting for purifying hypothalamic cell types
  • Cloning and working with lentiviral CRISPR/Cas9 barcoding and scarring systems
  • Performing single cell RNA sequencing (10X platform) and bioinformatic analysis
  • Implementing algorithms for studying lineage fate trajectories of neural cells based on CRISPR/Cas9 barcoding and single cell RNA sequencing
  • Preparing cells for intracerebral transplantation to rats

Key criteria for the assessment of applicants

The following requirements for the candidate will be assessed as key criteria for the recruitment.

Mandatory requirements:

  • Master’s degree related to the subject area of the project e.g. Biology, Biomedicine, Biotechnology, Human Biology, Bioinformatics/data science or similar
  • Prior experience in participating in biological research project(s)
  • Prior experience in working with bioinformatics and programming – either from courses or research projects
  • Fluency in English, written and spoken.

Positively assessed criteria:

  • Prior experience in cell culturing, in particular working with stem cells and/or neural cell cultures
  • Prior experience  in immunostaining and microscopy
  • Prior experience in RNA extraction and qRT-PCR
  • Prior experience/knowledge on developmental biology and lineage trajectories
  • Prior experience from working well in teams and collaborative projects
  • Well-organized, self-motivated, result-oriented and capable of working independently
  • Positive reviews from previous supervisors, collaborators or mentors

Terms of salary, work, and employment :

The successful candidate will be offered a full-time position for a total of 4 years – the first year as research assistant and the following 3 years as PhD fellow. The transfer to employment as a PhD student after the first year is conditioned upon a positive assessment of the candidate ́s research performance during the first year as well as acceptance of enrolment in the Graduate School at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. The transfer from Research assistant to PhD student may take place at an earlier time point than 1 year, if agreed upon between the PI and candidate, and conditioned by a positive assessment.

Salary and other terms and conditions of appointment are set in accordance with the Agreement between the Ministry of Finance and AC (Danish Confederation of Professional Associations) or other relevant professional organization. The position is covered by the “Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff at the Universities” of June 28, 2013. In addition to the basic salary, a monthly contribution to a pension fund is added (17.1% of the salary). Candidates from abroad may be eligible to reduced tax payment, according to the Special Tax Scheme for Researchers. More information about this can be found here:

The PhD study must be completed in accordance with the ministerial orders from the Ministry of Education on the PhD degree and the University ́s rules on achieving the degree. General information about PhD study at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences is available at the Graduate School’s website:

Application procedure

Your application must be submitted electronically by clicking ‘Apply now’ below. The application must include the following documents in PDF format: 

  1. Motivated letter of application (max. one page)
  2. CV incl. education, experience from previous research projects, previous employments, technical skills, language skills and other skills relevant for the position + contact information of two references.
  3. Master of Science diploma and transcript of records. If not completed, provide a copy of a recent transcript of records with a written statement from the institution or supervisor stating that the MSc degree is expected in the coming months.
  4. Publication list (if relevant)
  5. Reference letters (optional – if not supplied, we will contact the references provided in the CV for shortlisted candidates)

Contact information:

For questions about the project and group, please contact the principal supervisor: Associate Professor Agnete Kirkeby, Department of Neuroscience, e-mail: phone: +45 5168 5353

Application deadline: 14 May 2021, 23.59pm CET

We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

Assessment procedure

After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the hiring committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an unbiased assessor. 

The assessor makes a non-prioritized assessment of the academic qualifications and experience with respect to the above-mentioned area of research, techniques, skills and other requirements listed in the advertisement.

Once the assessment work has been completed each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself.

The applicant will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 242 of 13 March 2012 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities. You can read about the recruitment process at

The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences comprises approximately 7500 students, 1500 PhD students and 3200 employees. The Faculty advances the field of health sciences through its core activities: research, teaching, knowledge sharing and communication. With basic research fields ranging from molecular studies to studies of society, the Faculty contributes to a healthy future through its graduates, research findings and inventions benefitting patients and the community. The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all regardless of personal background to apply for the position.


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Application deadline: 14-05-2021
Employment start: 01-09-2021
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: Department of Neuroscience

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