The Kaessmann lab is looking for an ambitious and highly qualified postdoctoral researcher interested in unravelling the molecular and cellular basis of the evolution of species-specific organ phenotypes in mammals based on single-cell experiments.

Background: A primary goal in biology is to understand the molecu¬lar basis of phenotypic evolution, most notably that of humans and other mammals. Most phenotypic differences between species are likely due to regulatory mutations that affect gene expression. Our lab has therefore previously generated comprehensive sets of RNA-seq data and various other high-throughput “omics” (e.g., epigenomic, metabolomic, proteomic) datasets for a large collection of tissues from representative mammals and performed integrated analyses of these data to study the expression (regulatory) evolution of mammalian genomes across gene types, lineages, organs, developmental stages, chromosomes and sexes (see e.g. Brawand et al. Nature 2011, Necsulea et al. Nature 2014, Cortez et al. Nature 2014; selected publications are listed below).

In the framework of a new line of research, funded by a recently awarded European Research Council (ERC) grant, we aim to move from the bulk tissue level to that of individual cells and thus illuminate how evolutionary changes in cellular composition and underlying gene regulatory networks have led to the emergence of species- or lineage-specific organ anatomies and functions.

The project: The first aim for this postdoctoral position is to develop and apply single-cell sequencing protocols for profiling transcriptomes and epigenomes across various tissues and developmental stages from selected mammalian species. The second major goal, which will be based on results from the first aim, is to utilize cellular systems (derived from different species and tissues) in conjunction with genome engineering techniques to identify key regulatory mutations that underlie the evolution of distinct cellular phenotypes.

The candidate: The ideal candidate has experience and strong experimental skills in molecular and cell biology; preferably related to RNA biology, genome editing techniques (e.g., CRISPR/Cas), high-throughput assay development and/or pluripotent stem cells (e.g., iPS cells). Expertise in developmental biology, the biology of specific organs (e.g., the brain), and/or genome-scale work (experimental and/or bioinformatic) is a plus. The candidate should ideally be driven by a passion for evolutionary biology.

The position requires the ability to independently take responsibility for the project, as well as strong teamwork and communication skills, problem-solving abilities, reliability, attention to detail and effective time management.

Research environment and location: The postdoc will be supported by research technicians and will work closely together with bioinformaticians and other wet lab scientists in our interdisciplinary group. The language of our institute (ZMBH) is English and hosts scientists from around the world. The institute is located in Heidelberg, a picturesque cosmopolitan city that offers a very stimulating, diverse and collaborative research environment thanks also to neighboring cutting-edge institutions, in particular the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ). In fact, the postdoctoral project will be carried out in the framework of collaborations with groups and core facilities from these two institutions.


For more information, please refer to our websites at

Contact details: Please submit a CV, statement of research interest, references, a list of publications or other research output to Henrik Kaessmann (h.kaessmann [ aT ]