PhD fellowship in Mammalian Developmental Epigenetics at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine (ICMM)

16. september 2023

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  • Udsendt dato
    16. september 2023
  • Udløbsdato
    1. oktober 2023
  • Karriereniveau
    Alm. fastansættelse

Job beskrivelse

The Developmental Epigenetics & Disease Lab (Messerschmidt Laboratory) is offering a PhD fellowship for three years to study epigenetic and transcriptional dynamics in early mammalian embryos and pluripotent stem cells commencing 1 January 2024 or after agreement.

Our group and research
We research epigenetic and transcriptional dynamics in mammalian embryos during oocyte-to-embryo transition and beyond. We study transcription factors and epigenetic modifiers and their roles in epigenetic programming, re-programming and stability at early developmental stages. We seek to uncover novel epigenetic features inherited or established at these early stages impacting on later development, adult homeostasis and/or disease.

For more details, please visit, e.g. see previous publications.

Project description
Mammalian development is not merely defined by the information encoded in our DNA, but also by how this information is interpreted. This is achieved by chemical modifications (epigenetic modifications), allowing, or restricting access to the genetic information without altering the DNA code itself. Defects in this epigenome can be equally damaging to health and development as mutations to the DNA itself.
For successful reproduction, the genome of the newly formed embryo must be stripped of most epigenetic information. Yet, an unknown portion of the parental epigenome is transmitted with the genetic material at fertilization and fulfils important roles in the embryonic development and homeostasis of the progeny. Revealing this heritable epigenetic information, its functional relevance and the machineries involved in the transmission in humans and mice is the essence of our research in the laboratory. The epigenetic regulator TRIM28, targeted to DNA by KRAB-Zinc finger proteins, is central to this process. We have shown that loss of maternal TRIM28 causes profound epigenetic defects and to date identified several instances of disrupted epigenetic inheritance in this model (see our published work). Our findings suggest the TRIM28-complex plays a central role in epigenetic inheritance and targets and functions go far beyond our current understanding.

The successful candidate will build on this foundation and work to enhance our understanding of TRIM28-mediated inheritance, expand beyond it and most centrally, address germline-to-soma inheritance.

Principal supervisor is Associate professor Daniel M. Messerschmidt, Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine (ICMM); e-mail: [email protected] or tel. +45 35 32 02 86.

Start: 1 January 2024 or after agreement.

Duration: 3 years as a PhD student.

Job description
Your key tasks as a PhD student at SUND are:

  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision.
  • Complete PhD courses or other equivalent education corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS points.
  • Participate in active research environments including a stay at another research team.
  • Obtain experience with teaching or other types of dissemination related to your PhD project.
  • Teach and disseminate your knowledge.
  • Write a PhD thesis on the grounds of your project.

Key criteria for the assessment of applicants
Applicants must have qualifications corresponding to a master’s degree related to the subject area of the project.

Certified copy of original Master of Medicine diploma and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in other language than English or Danish. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor is accepted.

As a prerequisite for a PhD fellowship employment, your master’s degree must be equivalent to a Danish master’s degree. We encourage you to read more in the assessment database:

Please note that we might ask you to obtain an assessment of your education performed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science.

Other important criteria are:

  • The grade point average achieved.
  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project.
  • Previous publications of research projects.
  • Relevant work experience.
  • Other professional activities.
  • Curious mind-set with a strong interest in Developmental and Molecular Biology as well as Epigenetics.
  • Excellent English skills both written and spoken.

Place of employment
The place of employment is at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine (ICMM), University of Copenhagen. ICMM offers a creative and ambitious scientific environment, with many different nationalities represented. ICMM aims to produce research with high international impact focusing on the functional cell, its genetic components and molecular cellular mechanisms in a medical context. ICMM currently comprises five research programs, three high profile Research Centers as well as a number of international research groups. The scientists at ICMM are involved in high quality research based undergraduate and graduate teaching programs at the University of Copenhagen.

More information can be found at

Terms of employment
The employment as PhD fellow is full time (37 working hours per week in average) and for 3 years.

It is conditioned upon the applicant’s successful enrolment as a PhD student at the Graduate School at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant.

The employment is conditioned upon the applicant’s success­ful enrolment as a PhD student at the Graduate School at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant.

The PhD study must be completed in accordance with The Ministerial Order on the PhD programme (2013) and the Faculty’s rules on achieving the degree.

Salary, pension, and terms of employment are in accordance with the agree­ment between the Ministry of Taxation and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State.
Depending on seniority, the monthly salary starts at approx. DKK 28,993 / EUR 3,891 (October 2023-level) plus pension.

For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact the principal supervisor (see above).

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, language skills and other skills relevant for the position.
  3. Master of Science diploma and transcript of records. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor will do.
  4. Publication list (if available).

Application deadline: Sunday 1 October 2023, 23:59 PM 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.

The further process
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.

You find information about the recruitment process at:

The applicants will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 242 of 13 March 2012 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities.

The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences comprises approximately 7,815 students, 2,113 researchers and 3,793 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

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