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“Excellence by Choice” Postdoctoral Programme in Life Science

The call for postdoctoral fellows is open. The application deadline is 19 March 2023.

Important dates

Application deadline: 19 March 2023

Final interview: 26 April 2023

Online application

“Excellence by Choice” Postdoctoral Programme in Life Science

Umeå University is one of Sweden’s largest institutions of higher education with over 35,000 students and 4,200 faculty and staff. We are characterised by world-leading research in several scientific fields and a multitude of educations ranked highly in international comparison. Recent breakthroughs at Umeå University include deciphering the molecular mechanisms of the bacterial CRISPR-Cas9 system and its repurposing into a tool for genome editing, a method developed at Umeå university that was awarded the 2020 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Umeå University is currently running the “Excellence by Choice” Postdoctoral Programme in Life Science research to train outstanding young researchers and stimulate cutting-edge research (read interviews with current postdocs: Gabriel Torrens, Joram Kiriga Waititu). As a collaboration between the two national Centres of Excellence – Umeå Centre for Microbial Research (UCMR) and Umeå Plant Science Centre (UPSC) – the programme aims to encourage new synergies in Life Science with a focus on molecular and translational research and to strengthen world-class research activities in Umeå. Patron for the programme is Nobel laureate Emmanuelle Charpentier, who discovered the CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing technology during her time as a scientist and group leader in Umeå.

In this second call, several fellowships are open for outstanding postdoctoral candidates interested to do research in the highly interactive and multidisciplinary research environments of UCMR and UPSC. In the scope of the “Excellence by Choice” Postdoctoral Programme, we aim to recruit up to six postdoctoral scientists in this round.

The programme is open to all nationalities.

The “EC” Postdoctoral Fellows will

  • Develop a collaborative project under supervision of at least two PIs
  • Obtain 2-year full-time fellowship exempt from tax (672 000 SEK), as well as grants for project running costs (320 000 SEK) and the fellow’s career development (25 000 SEK)
  • Access to UCMR/UPSC-affiliated core facilities and technical platforms such as Chemical Biology Consortium Sweden (CBCS), Protein Expertise Platform, metabolomics, proteomics, X-ray, NMR (850-400 MHz), The Computational Life science Cluster (CLiC) – a node in NBIS (National Bioinformatics Infrastructure Sweden), Umeå Core Facility for Electron Microscopy (UCEM), and Biochemical Imaging Centre Umeå (BICU) that form a node in the National Microscopy Infrastructure (NMI)
  • Participate in activities to strengthen networks and collaborations in academics and industry
  • Involve in a strong postdoc community with the Umea Postdoc Society (UPS) which fosters networking amongst postdocs, organizes social and career development events


To qualify as a postdoctoral fellowship holder, the postdoctoral fellow is required to have completed a doctoral degree or a foreign degree deemed equivalent to a doctoral degree in the relevant field. This qualification requirements must be fulfilled within six months after the closing date of the application.

Preference should be given to applicants who received their degree no more than three years before the end of the application period. Applicants who received their doctoral degree earlier may be considered in special circumstances. Special circumstances include absence due to illness, parental leave, clinical practice, elected positions in trade unions, or similar circumstances.

Candidates are encouraged to consider one of the project ideas listed below. The candidates' merits and motivation for choice of project idea will be assessed by the PIs of each project respectively. A short list of applicants will then be requested to submit a short research proposal based on the chosen project idea, followed by invitation to an interview by a panel of UCMR/UPSC researchers.


The application should be submitted online including:

1. A Curriculum Vitae

2. A motivation letter including research interests, qualifications, and motivation for applying for the position with the particular project idea selected from the list (max 2,000 characters with space)

3. A publication list including both published papers and preprints with web/DOI

4. A description of up to a total three (3) of your publications and/or preprints that you consider at present would represent your scientifically most valuable work, answering the following questions (max 3,000 characters with space):

   a. Why you consider a particular publication to be the scientifically most valuable?

   b. What was your specific contribution(s) to this published research work?

   c. What was your role in the manuscript writing and publishing of the

5. Names and contact details of at least two references

6. A verified copy of doctoral degree certificate or documentation that attests when the doctoral degree of is expected to be obtained

Step 1:

The application must be submitted electronically through the online application system. For details of the projects, see below.
 Go to online application

Online application deadline: 19 March 2023.

Step 2:

A short list of candidates will be invited to submit a short proposal based on the project idea and participate the final interview.

Date of final interview: 26 April 2023.


For further information, please contact Ingrid Söderbergh, Research Coordinator, Ingrid.soderbergh@umu.se

At Umeå University, everything is nearby. The cohesive campus environment makes it easy to meet, collaborate and exchange knowledge, which promotes a dynamic and open culture where we rejoice in each other’s successes. If you are interested in knowing about Umeå University as a workplace, read more at: https://www.umu.se/en/work-with-us/.

Umeå University also offers a strong postdoc community with the Umeå Postdoc Society (UPS) which fosters networking amongst postdocs, organises social and career development events and works towards improving the postdoc experience at Umeå University campus. Check out their website and do not hesitate to get in contact with them early on! https://umeapostdocsociety.se/

Umeå University wants to offer an environment where open dialogue between people with different backgrounds and perspectives lay the foundation for learning, creativity and development. In each recruitment we aim to increase diversity and the opportunity to affirmative action. We kindly decline offers of recruitment and advertising help.


List of projects:

1. Chemo-optogenetic engineering of cellular metabolism for microbial chemical production

The project aims to develop programmable tools using our chemical and chemo-optogenetic systems to rewire metabolic pathways in microorganisms for efficient production of valuable chemicals such as for example biofuels from renewable feedstocks. The project will be accomplished by using a combination of techniques such as molecular cloning, genetic engineering, biochemistry, microbial fermentation, cell imaging and analytical techniques.  

PIs: Yaowen Wu, Anita Sellstedt

2.The identification of essential enzymes and genes of resistance that regulate herbivore infections in plants

Enzyme detection using microdialysis from infected plants, as well as the discovery of early immune response genes.

PIs: Peter Marhavy, Sandra Jämtgård

3. Elucidating the role of cuticle on epidermis morphogenesis

We hypothesize that the epidermis morphogenesis in plants is regulated by mechanical and/or chemical signals emerging from the cuticle layer. We aim to unravel crucial aspects of cell shape and cell fate determination by investigating the roles of mechanical and chemical signals derived from the cuticle in pavement cells, trichomes and stomata in Arabidopsis leaf epidermis. We will focus on the emergence of their shapes, distribution and coordination.

PIs: Stéphanie Robert, Stéphane Verger

4. Developing data-driven structural refinement of neutron reflectometry data to understand processes at biological membranes

Novel algorithms and efficient hardware enable usage of data-driven simulations to develop a structural refinement tool for neutron reflectometry data ideally suited to determine molecular processes at biological membranes involved in apoptotic regulation.

PIs: Gerhard Gröbner, Magnus Andersson

5. The effects of horizontal gene transfer on cell decision making

Horizontal gene transfer plays an important role in shaping microbial community structure and facilitating short-term adaptation to stressful environments, but it can also alter the structure and regulation of key genetic pathways. By using theoretical models, we aim to model the dynamics of horizontal gene transfer in microbes exposed to periodic stress in order to better understand the resulting impact of horizontal genetic transfer on genetic architecture and the mechanisms of cell decision making.

PIs: Eric Libby, Peter Lind

6. Regulation of host cell epitranscriptome in Salmonella infection 

Chemical modification of RNA, namely the epitranscriptome, constitutes an understudied layer of gene expression regulation. How bacterial infection influences the host cell epitranscritome and how this modification favours the establishment of a successful infection is currently unknown. This project aims at elucidating how infection with a Salmonella genotoxigenic strain, causing DNA damage, and its isogenic control lacking the DNA damaging activity modulate N6-methyladenosine in colonic epithelial cells, and how this modification regulates: i) the activation of DNA damage; ii) cell autonomous innate immune responses; and iii) carcinogenic properties of the bacterium.

PIs: Teresa Frisan, Francesca Aguilo

7. Linking molecular structure and function with ultrafast multidimensional spectroscopy

In this project, we will use ultrafast coherent two-dimensional spectroscopy to identify the structural determinants of binding and catalysis of chitin by a novel lytic chitin monooxygenase. We will investigate the interactions between the enzyme and the substrate to identify the link between molecular structural changes and optical features. Our results will allow researchers to develop drugs tailored to restore a malfunctioning gut microbiome and find new cures for diseases.

PIs: André Mateus, Nicolò Maccaferri

8. Structure-function characterisation of the plant COP9 signalosome multiprotein complex

The COP9 signalosome (CSN) is a highly conserved eight-subunit protein complex required for protein degradation. In several plant species subunits 5 and 6 are duplicated leading to 4 different CSN complexes the function of some of which is unknown. Comparing the structure of the different complexes will help determining their function.

PIs: Catherine Bellini, Karina Persson

9. Interactions between bacterial membrane vesicles and enteric viruses

Analyses and potential exploitation of roles of bacterial membrane vesicles in enteric virus infections.

PIs: Sun Nyunt Wai, Annasara Lenman

10. Role of mitochondrial dysfunction in host cell-autonomous immunity against Chlamydia

This project aims to shed light on the strategies that allow the obligate intracellular bacterium Chlamydia trachomatis to maintain its host cell as a functional replicative niche and to evade host cellular defences, in particular through its interplay with host mitochondria. The specific aims are: (1) to reveal how C. trachomatis impacts on the function and integrity of host mitochondria, and (2) to uncover the consequences of mitochondrial changes on intracellular bacterial growth and on host innate immune and stress programs.

PIs: Barbara Sixt, Paulina Wanrooij

11. Mechanism of assembly at the tip of a Yersinia injectisome

Uncovering the mechanism of LcrV assembly at the tip of the injectisome in a Yersinia type three secretion system (T3SS). The scientific question will be addressed with an integrated combination of structural biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and infection biology.

PIs: Magnus Wolf-Watz, Matthew Francis

12. Illuminating the virological origin of type 1 diabetes

The cause of type 1 diabetes has been suggested to be linked to virus infection, in particular enteroviruses such as coxsackie. By new methods for optical 3D imaging, we have demonstrated the possibility to image essentially any antibody targeted epitope of choice throughout the volume human pancreas and by these techniques we want to visualize the link between viral infection and diabetes in humans. 

PIs: Anna Överby Wernstedt, Ulf Ahlgren

13. Across kingdoms exploration of evolutionarily conserved uncharacterized process essential for cell proliferation

A postdoc project using plant and human cells to investigate an evolutionarily conserved protein complex assembly process functioning during proliferation of plant and human cells.

PIs: Totte Niittylä, Bernt Eric Uhlin

14. Viral infections and pregnancy-related complications

Using national registry data of all laboratory-verified test-positive SARS-CoV-2, Influenza or Puumala virus to determine the risk of pregnancy-related complications following viral infection.

PIs: Anne-Marie Fors Connolly, Sophia Harlid

15. Extracellular membrane vesicles from Gram-positive bacteria: biogenesis and host interactions

Cellular mechanisms involved in the biogenesis of bacteria membrane vesicles, and their effect on host cell.

PIs: Aftab Nadeem, Jan Oscarson

16. Detecting infections in elderly populations

The aim is to use high-throughput multi-analyte assays for detection of immunological memory to infectious agents, and to dissect these based on time and quality. The goal is to better combine resulting immunological data with registry data and to understand immunity and predictive correlates against severe infection-induced diseases that affect an ageing population.

PIs: Mattias Forsell, Anders Johansson

17. Pushing the resolution of intracellular co-localization by correlative fluorescence and electron microscopy

The correlative use of advanced light microscopy with specific molecular markers and cryo-EM has the potential to resolve localisation of biomolecules with nanometer precision. This proof-of-principle project am to bridge new microscopy technologies to fundamental cell biology question.

PIs: Linda Sandblad, Richard Lundmark

18. Mosquito-pathogen interactions at single cellular resolution

The project aims to focus on the alimentary canal of mosquitos as the first barrier encountered by vector-borne viruses and parasites. Using single-cell transcriptomics in the first instance, the project should compare the impact of blood feeding and infection on cellular composition and transcriptomes to discover starting points from which to dissect molecular mechanisms underpinning vector competence.

PIs: Oliver Billker, Magnus Evander

19. Mode-of-action of a novel anti-Cryptosporidium compound family

We have developed an effective anti-Cryptosporidium chemotherapy, with a so far unknown mode-of-action. The project aims at elucidating the mechanism in Cryptosporidium parvum at molecular level.

PIs: Christian Hedberg, Lars-Anders Carlson

20 Interaction circuits of epithelia and neutrophils during mucosal infection

Downstream effects of danger signals elicited during mucosal infection are poorly understood. We aim to delineate how epithelia recognize filamentous fungi and how epithelial danger signals shape neutrophil responses against these pathogens.

PIs: Constantin Urban, Andrea Puhar

Latest update: 2023-03-16