Open Positions

We currently have openings for a PhD position (starting in April 2018) and two Master theses (starting as soon as a suitable candidate is found).

Students interested in a Bachelor thesis or an internship can inquire at any time about openings. Please send your CV and a statement of research interests to Ute Hellmich when doing so. Please note that since we have many requests for BSc theses, we kindly ask you to apply as early as possible. Before applying, please also refer to box below ("what we expect" and "what we offer").

PhD position: Lipid- and membrane protein interactions of membrane active peptides from entomopathogenic bacteria

Project description: Every year, tens of thousands of people suffer from famine due to crop parasite/insect infestations. Therefore, safe, cheap and effective anti-insecticides are urgently needed. Conveniently, entomopathogenic soil bacteria produce a variety of natural products with yet uncharacterized biochemical and biophysical properties, among them those that kill insects efficiently. These compounds include, but are not limited to, lipopeptides and peptides. We want to study the effect of bacterial hydrophobic and cationic peptides on membranes, their interaction with lipids and membrane proteins. Among the questions to be answered are how the peptides from entomopathogenic bacteria hurt insects with their natural products but do not affect the producing bacteria, how are these peptides transported out of the producing cell and the identification of the transport machinery and elucidation of its molecular mechanisms.

In close collaboration with the Bode group (Frankfurt) and the Hellmann group (Mainz) and in the framework of the DynaMem Initiative, the successful candidate will apply a variety of biochemical and biophysical methods (microbiology, cell biology, lipid biochemistry, NMR/fluorescence spectroscopy) to study these questions.

Project specific requirements: for this project we look for a highly qualified and motivated biochemist/biophysicist with experience in biochemical and molecular biology techniques and spectroscopy (MSc Biochemistry, Biomed. Chemistry, Chemistry, Biology, or closely related field). Experience with lipid biochemistry, membrane proteins and structural biology are a strong plus.

For further information (and for application details), please also refer to the DynaMem webpage:





MSc thesis: Conformational dynamics of an essential ion channel

TRPV4 is an important ion channel responsible for the sensation of warmth and touch. However, more than 60 point mutations have been described that lead to devastating diseases, such as neuropathies and skeletal dysplasias. Using a combination of biochemical, biophysical and cell biological techniques, we want to elucidate the structural basis for the interaction and regulation of TRPV4 with lipids and proteins. Our work will lead to a molecular understanding of physiological signal integration and the underlying reason of disease mutations. When applying, please send your CV, letter of motivation and a short summary of your BSc thesis to Ute Hellmich. Before applying, please also refer to box below ("what we expect" and "what we offer")

MSc thesis: biophysical characterization of a lipase from a pathogenic bacterium

In collaboration with the groups of Nadja Hellmann (Inst. Biochemie, JGU Mainz) and Matthias Husmann (Inst. für Medizinische Mikrobiologie und Hygiene, Unimedizin), we aim to analyse the substrate spectrum, structure and dynamics of a lipase from a pathogenic bacterium. Studies will also include tests regarding pathogenicity, and the effect of known lipase inhibitors. When applying, please send your CV, letter of motivation and a short summary of your BSc thesis to Ute Hellmich. Before applying, please also refer to box below ("what we expect" and "what we offer")

  1. What we expect from potential student researchers: You are currently in a BSc or MSc program in Biochemistry, Biomedical Chemistry, Chemistry, Biophysics, Biology or a related discipline. You are highly motivated, enthusiastic, have (some) prior knowledge of molecular biology and protein biochemistry. You are independent, a critical thinker and enjoy science. You have an interest in structural biology and you can communicate in English.
    What we offer: You will join a young group with a great community spirit and very amicable and enthusiastic people (check out the rest of our homepage for a glance at all the fun things we do in and out of the lab). You will be supervised by a PhD student. However, we want you to take ownership of your project, so we expect you to work independently as well. You will be thoroughly trained in protein biochemistry, and you will have the opportunity to carry out a large number of biochemical and biophysical techniques. We want to make sure you get the most out of your thesis and that you experience first-hand how much fun it is to do science.

If you are interested in joining the group as a (student) researcher, please contact Ute Hellmich directly. Potential JGU B. Sc. and M. Sc. students - please stop by the lab for a personal discussion of your interests and available projects. Please send a letter of motivation pointing out what you would like to gain from your time with us, your CV including any previous research experience and (for MSc students) a short summary of your BSc thesis ahead of time.

Potential PhD students and postdocs – you can always inquire informally about open positions. For formal applications, please send a CV, a statement containing your previous research experience and research interests and the contact information of at least two references. Application to fellowships is highly encouraged and we will support you in this endeavor.

Why come to Mainz?

To learn more about the university and the city, please refer to the university homepage (in English) and find out what does Mainz have to offer you?