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PhD fellowship in Epitranscriptomics and cancer at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine

The University of Copenhagen

A PhD position is available at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine (ICMM) Faculty of Heath Sciences (SUND), University of Copenhagen in the H. Nielsen Group headed by Professor Henrik Nielsen. The position starts 1 January 2022 and highly motivated and committed candidates with an interest in cancer and RNA biology are encouraged to apply.

The project is fully funded by the Danish Cancer Society but the PhD fellow will be encouraged to seek a personal funding to support their PhD stipend.

Our group and research
The H Nielsen group is embedded at the Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine ( The group specializes in RNA biology with emphasis on catalytic RNA and RNA modifications in ribosomal and spliceosomal RNA. Most projects are conducted in collaboration with international research partners.

Project description
In this project, we emphasize the role of RNA-guided RNA-modifications, such as ribose methylation and pseudouridylation of ribosomal RNA and how these modification impact translation in normal cells and in cancer. The project builds on recent publications from the group demonstrating pronounced perturbations of the RNA modification pattern in cancer cell lines and patient samples as well as detailed molecular analyses of the impact of individual modifications on the translation process. The specific aim is to establish the connection between expression of guide RNAs, the instalment of nucleotide modifications and the consequences at the level of mRNA recruitment and translation for selected sites of particular relevance in cancer. The project is a collaborative effort with clinical research groups to ensure its relevance to clinical practise.

Start:                                  1 January 2022
Duration:                           3 years as a PhD student
Working hours:                 37 working hours per week in average.

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.
  • Obtain experience with teaching or other types of dissemination related to your PhD project
  • Write a PhD thesis on the grounds of your project.

There will also be a research-based teaching in the ICMM curriculum, including at undergraduate level.

We are looking for a highly motivated and enthusiastic person with the following competences and experience:

  • Must hold a Master’s degree in a related area of molecular biology, cell biology or biochemistry.
  • Must show evidence of publication-standard research, preferable within the areas of human molecular and cell biology, RNA biology or cancer.
  • Strong communication and collaboration skills, including the ability to work well in an international academic setting.
  • Ability to work in a team of multidisciplinary scientists, and the potential to work independently with limited direction.
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English.

Key criteria for the assessment of candidates
Applicants must have qualifications corresponding to a master’s degree related to the subject area of the project e.g. biochemistry, molecular biology, biology or cell biology.

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:

  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD programme.
  • Previous publications.
  • Relevant work experience in cancer biology, RNA and cell biology.
  • Other professional activities.
  • Curious mind-set with a strong interest in cancer and RNA biology.
  • Personal drive and commitment to science.
  • Excellent English language skills.

Place of employment
The place of employment is at Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen. We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in a dynamic and international research environment. Our research facilities are within modern laboratories including dedicated cell and isotope labs.

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

The position is conditional upon the candidate’s successful enrolment in the PhD 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 candidate in consultation with the supervisors.

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 Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State.
Depending on seniority, the monthly salary begins at DKK 27,778 / approx. EUR 3,730 (April 2021-level) plus an employer paid pension contribution at 17.1 %.

For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact principal supervisor professor Henrik Nielsen by e-mail:

General information about PhD programs 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”.
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. Certified copy of original Master of Science diploma and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in other language than English or Danish. Master’s degree must be equivalent to a Danish master’s degree. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records
  4. List of publications (if possible).

Application deadline: 15 October 2021, 23.59 p.m. 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.

The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences comprises approximately 8,000 students, 1,790 PhD students and 5,100 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.


Henrik NielsenE-mail:


Application deadline: 15-10-2021Employment start: 01-01-2022Working hours: Full timeDepartment/Location: Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine

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