Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology

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Department of Molecular Biology

The department provides a vibrant interfaculty research environment and there is access to a wide range of state-of-the-art imaging, metabolomics, genomics and screening facilities.

The position

You will join a research team that is part of the Laboratory for Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS), which is internationally well-connected through the EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory) Nordic Partnership for Molecular Medicine. The Billker lab is looking for a postdoc to join an interdisciplinary research team. The project forms part of a major effort funded by the European Research Council to systematically identify parasite gene functions in malaria transmission. The position is full time for two years and is placed at the Department of Molecular Biology, Umeå University, Sweden. The position is expected to start in September 2018 or as otherwise agreed. The research project is long-term and we expect that new positions continuously will be announced in the project.

For additional information, visit our lab page (, or contact Oliver Billker (

The project

Malaria parasites belong to a highly divergent taxon, which has branched off from the base of the tree of eukaryotic life not long after sexual reproduction and meiosis first evolved. Their unusual and important sexual biology has recently become highly tractable by genetic, biochemical and imaging approaches, making them ideally suited to identify some of the most conserved aspects of eukaryotic life. Importantly, sexual reproduction is obligatory in Plasmodium and offers targets to block the mosquito transmission of these important parasites.

Description of tasks

We have previously demonstrated the power of comparative biology using a rodent model of Plasmodium for the discovery of widely conserved eukaryotic fertilisation factors (Liu et al., Genes & Dev., 2008;  Ning et al., Genes & Dev., 2013). We have now developed tools that for the first time allow forward genetic screening in a malaria parasite (Bushell et al., 2017). In this project you will design assays to identify parasite genes involved in forming the cellular structures and events of Plasmodium reproduction, such as the sperm’s axoneme, gamete recognition and fusion, or meiosis. Working from a list of confirmed fertility genes, you will conduct genetic screens and characterize selected hits by biochemical interaction studies and correlative microscopy to discover the roles of conserved proteins of unknown functions. There will be significant opportunities for the successful candidate to influence the direction of the project, to work closely with local nodes of the Swedish national research infrastructure for correlative microscopy and protein structure elucidation, but also to drive the establishment of international collaborations with labs working in other cellular models for comparative approaches.


You have a PhD in a relevant area such as genetics, genomics, cell and molecular biology, as well as a proven ability to deliver high-quality scientific outputs. To be eligible you should have completed your PhD degree a maximum of three years before the end of the application period, unless special circumstances exist. You should be able to work as well independently as in a team. You should have excellent knowledge of eukaryotic cell biology and experience in microscopy, including life cell imaging. You should be able to demonstrate a strong interest and past experience in evolutionary biology, including for instance comparative genomics and protein evolution, as well as good knowledge of some of the relevant taxonomic analysis software and genome databases. You need to be willing to undertake research involving animals. You are proficient in oral and written communication in English. You should be able to communicate your science effectively and to develop creative approaches to solving scientific problems.

Knowledge of recombinant DNA technologies, genetics and well-developed scientific writing skill will be advantageous.


The application should include:

  • A personal cover letter explaining why you are interested in the position, how you can contribute to the project and in which direction you may want to develop it (no more than two A4 pages).
  • A curriculum vitae that documents academic education and past and previous employments.
  • Your publication list.
  • A copy of the PhD certificate.
  • Names and contact details with e-mail addresses of two to three academic references.
  • Other relevant documentation you wish to include in support of your application.

The application shall be written in English (preferably) or Swedish. You apply through our recruitment system. Log into the system and apply via the button at the bottom of the webpage. The deadline for application is 2018-07-30.


Type of employment Temporary position longer than 6 months
Contract type Full time
First day of employment 2018-09-01
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Working hours 100%
City Umeå
County Västerbottens län
Country Sweden
Reference number AN 2.2.1-1090-18
  • Oliver Billker, professor,
Union representative
  • SACO, 090-786 53 65
  • SEKO, 090-786 52 96
  • ST, 090-786 54 31
Published 13.Jun.2018
Last application date 30.Jul.2018 11:59 PM CET

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