Umeå University, Faculty of Science and Technology

Umeå University is dedicated to providing creative environments for learning and work. We offer a wide variety of courses and programmes, world leading research, and excellent innovation and collaboration opportunities. More than 4 100 employees and 34 000 students have already chosen Umeå University. We welcome your application!

Discovery and development of selective chemical probes to elucidate the role of metacaspases

We are seeking a PhD student for a project with focus on design, organic synthesis and biological evaluation of organic molecules as chemical tools to elucidate the function of metacaspases in plants and protozoa. It will not only give valuable insights into the inter-species differences of metacaspase function, but may also be a means of modulating virulence of parasitic protozoa, like Trypanosoma and Leishmania, in mammals. The application deadline is 9 March 2020.

The objective is to develop biologically active organic molecules that can be used as chemical tools aimed at meeting the fast growing demands of basic research in the area of metacaspases (MCs). These enzymes are present in all kingdoms of life, except for animals, and highly-selective and specific probes with MC-modulating activity will generate new knowledge regarding the proteases’ structure and function. The results of this project will not only have a transformative impact on the field of MC research but will as well impel large and multidisciplinary community of scientists studying animal caspases. That fact that MCs are found in protozoa but not in humans makes it an attractive target for development of anti-parasitic drugs. Finding inhibitors or activators specific for protozoa MC will not only give valuable insights into the inter-species differences of MC function, but may also be a means of modulating virulence of parasitic protozoa in mammals thereby reducing their pathogenicity. The PhD candidate will design and synthesize molecules that inhibit or enhance the function of metacaspases. Two main approaches will be used for design and synthesis (i) based on known tetrapeptide substrates and available crystal structures and (ii) exploration of the activity screening using chemical libraries provided by the Chemical Biology Consortium Sweden (CBCS) that is currently ongoing to identify new non-peptidic molecules that either inhibit or enhance MC activity by targeting active or allosteric sites. This project will be carried out within a research group that uses multidisciplinary approaches to address medicinal chemistry research questions.

Admission requirements
You are required to have completed a second-cycle level degree, or completed course requirements of at least 240 ECTS credits, of which at least 60 ECTS credits are at second-cycle level, or have an equivalent education from abroad, or equivalent qualifications.

To fulfil the specific entry requirements to be admitted for studies at third-cycle level in chemistry, you are required to have completed first-cycle courses of at least 90 ECTS credits within the field of chemistry, or in a subject considered to be directly relevant for the specialization in question. Of those 90 ECTS credits, at least 15 ECTS credits shall have been acquired at second-cycle level within the specialization in question, or an equivalent subject.

You should have a genuine interest in organic- and medicinal chemistry and be prepared to take on scientific and technical challenges. Very good command of the English language, both written and spoken, is required. The applicant must have competence of organic chemistry and medicinal chemistry, as well as training and/or experience in organic synthesis. You should be creative, with good interpersonal and collaborative skills, power of initiative, and a high degree of independence. Experiences of protein expression, biochemical and biological evaluations, X-ray crystallography and computational chemistry are merits.

About the position
The position is intended to result in a doctoral degree and the main task of the PhD student is to pursue their doctoral studies which include both participation in research and postgraduate courses. Teaching and other departmental work can be assigned (up to a maximum of 20%). The employment is limited to four years full-time, or up to five years when including other duties part time. Salary is set in accordance with the established salary ladder for PhD position.

A complete application should contain the following documents:

  • A cover letter including a description of your research interests, your reasons to apply for the position, and your contact information
  • A curriculum vitae, including a list of BSc and/or MSc theses and, if applicable, research publications
  • Certified copies of degree certificates, including documentation of completed academic courses and obtained grades
  • Electronic copy of BSc and/or MSc thesis
  • Contact information of at least two reference persons

The application can be written in Swedish or English. Applications must be submitted via our e-recruiting system. The last day to apply is 9 March 2020. For more information please contact Prof. Anna Linusson, phone: 090-7866890, email:

About us
Information about the Department of Chemistry, see: Information about the postgraduate education can be found on the Faculty of Science and Technology website: For more information about working at Umeå University:

Type of employment Temporary position longer than 6 months
Contract type Full time
First day of employment By agreement
Salary Monthly salary
Number of positions 1
Working hours 100%
City Umeå
County Västerbottens län
Country Sweden
Reference number AN 2.2.1-174-20
Union representative
  • SACO, 090-786 53 65
  • SEKO, 090-786 52 96
  • ST, 090-786 54 31
Published 03.Feb.2020
Last application date 09.Mar.2020 11:59 PM CET

Return to job vacancies