PhD position NMR on enzymes at Leiden University

The Faculty of Science and the Leiden Institute of Chemistry are looking for a PhD candidate for the project Enzyme-substrate interactions: Understanding catalysis of glycosidases (1.0 FTE).

Project description

GH11 glycosidases are important enzymes in nature and for biotechnology. The aim of the project is to develop an approach to establish the conformation of covalent substrate intermediates in an active site and link it to the dynamics of these enzymes. Substrate analogues enriched with stable isotopes will be synthesized to enable the observation of substrate nuclei in the background of the enzyme, using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) and extract the conformation of the covalently bound sugar. NMR will also be used to study the effects of the adduct on enzyme dynamics with a combination of relaxation methods and paramagnetic NMR tools. The project will result in a general approach to study ligand conformations inside enzymes and yield a mechanistic description of catalysis of the GH11 family enzymes.

Selection criteria

  • Master’s degree in Chemistry, Biochemistry or Biophysics;

  • Affinity with biophysics is required;

  • Experience with NMR on proteins is a plus;

  • Excellent command of English;

  • Ability to work independently in a multidisciplinary environment;

  • The PhD research needs to start before December 2018.

    Research at our Faculty/Institute

    The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are committed to expand fundamental knowledge by curiosity and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future.
    The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organized in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programs. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 1,300 staff and almost 4,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.
    The chemistry and life science research in the Leiden Institute of Chemistry (LIC) is organized around two major research areas: ‘Chemical Biology’ and ‘Energy & Sustainability’. The institute’s research themes illustrate the central position of chemistry between biology, medicine and physics. The various research topics carried out within these themes are ideal for executing interdisciplinary research.

    Terms and conditions

    We offer a position for initially one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the thesis, personal capabilities and compatibility the appointment will be extended by a further three years. Salary range from €2,266 to €2,897 gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

    Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

    All our PhD students are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Science. Our graduate school offers several PhD training courses at three levels: professional courses, skills training and personal effectiveness. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the research school.


    Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.


    Enquiries regarding the research can be made to Professor Marcellus Ubbink. If you have any questions about the procedure, please contact the secretary Ingrid Bekooy.
    See also “Further information”.


    To apply for this vacancy, please send an email to the secretary of the Macromolecular Biochemistry group Mrs. Ingrid Bekooy. Please ensure that you join to your application the vacancy number and the following additional documents:

  • A letter of motivation;

  • An updated CV;

  • The letters of recommendation by 1 or 2 former supervisors;

  • A list of courses and grades of your Bachelor and Master education.