PhD student or Postdoc position in The function of Norovirus non-structural proteins

Positive-strand RNA viruses induce membrane alterations harboring the viral replication complexes. In the case of human noroviruses (huNoV), the major cause of acute viral gastroenteritis, these are induced by the ORF1 polyprotein, which is post-translationally processed into the functional nonstructural (NS) proteins. Partly due to the lack of efficient cell culture models, little is known so far about membrane alterations induced by huNoV belonging to the most clinically relevant genogroup II, genotype 4 (GII.4), nor about the function of individual NS proteins in their formation. We have generated an expression model for ORF1 proteins of GII.4 and individual NS proteins in cells to study their contribution to viral replication complex formation. Expression of ORF1 proteins of GII.4 induced ultrastructural changes comparable to those found in infected cells. We further found that NS1-2, NS3 and NS4 are individually inducing specific membrane alterations and developed models of their structural organization.

The project aims at an understanding of the precise functions of human norovirus NS-proteins in the biogenesis of the viral replication organelle and their potential use as a target for antiviral therapy. This will include expression of mutant proteins and analysis of their subcellular localization by microscopy/EM, biochemical analysis of protein-protein interactions and studies on viral replication using murine norovirus as a surrogate model.

The successful candidate for this position should have expertise in theory and practice in cell biology and with imaging methods, ideally also in virology. Experience in working with EM and electron tomography is an advantage.

This PhD position is part of a 4-year DFG funded project within TRR 179.



- MSc degree in Biomedical or Molecular Sciences, Biochemistry, Biology or related study (to be obtained before employment) or a PhD (Postdoc)

- Experience with molecular, biochemical and cell biological techniques, particularly microscopy

- Strong interest and ideally experience in microscopy, virology and cell biology


The position is open from October, 1st, 2017

Applications must comprise

1)    a detailed CV

2)    a description of research experience including applied methodologies

3)    an abstract of the Master thesis / PhD thesis

4)    a list of three references with complete contact details

5)    a short (~one page) letter focusing on the candidate’s scientific interests and motivation


Applications should be sent to Volker Lohmann:

email: Volker_Lohmann [ aT ]


Heidelberg is a very active and lively center for research in the field of life sciences and medical research ( It is one of the leading centers in virus research as well as systems biology in Europe. The campus provides unique opportunities for basic research in life sciences and is well connected to external institutions such as the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and the Max-Planck Institute for Medical Research.