Introduction An ANR-funded PhD position is available as part of an international collaboration project between the Universities of Tübingen (Germany) and Grenoble (France) as well as the Institut Max von Laue – Paul Langevin (ILL), equally in Grenoble. In a context of great fundamental biophysical interest, the ANR-part of the jointly DFG-ANR-funded collaboration will address the dynamics of proteins in aqueous solutions. The important control parameters of the samples are the concentration of proteins and other macromolecules in the solution (“crowding”), the charge state of the solution induced by salt ions, and the temperature. By systematically tuning these parameters, complex solution phase diagrams can be explored. These involve dynamic or static protein clusters, liquid-liquid phase separation and gelation regimes, and possibly crystallization. The aim of the project is to contribute to a fundamental physical understanding of these phase diagrams with the prospect of establishing a rational choice of pathways for protein cluster and crystal formation. The model protein at the center of this project is immunoglobulin (gamma-globulin). In view of the peculiar three-lobed conformation of these antibody proteins, the project will in particular be guided by the role of the protein shape. The crowding will be induced both via so-called self-crowding by varying the concentration of the target protein, as well as by external crowding using other proteins or other (deuterated) macromolecules, including e.g. bovine serum albumin and poly(ethylene glycol).
The ANR project will be located in Grenoble and be part of the above-mentioned larger scientific collaboration that involves the ILL and the Institut Interdiscipliniare de Physique in Grenoble as well as, for the DFG-funded part of the collaboration, the Institute of Applied Physics at the University of Tübingen (Germany) (groups of Profs. F. Schreiber and M. Oettel). The ANR-funded PhD position is associated with the ILL graduate school and the very attractive employment conditions of the ILL for PhD students.
Job description and Requested Profile The principal experimental method for this project consists in high-resolution neutron spectroscopy. Experiments will be carried out at the ILL as well as at other neutron scattering facilities worldwide, depending on beam time applications to be submitted in the course of the project. The data analysis requires a strong interest in theory, mathematics, and testing of biophysical models. Moreover, programming, including numerical optimization using e.g. python or MATLAB, will be required. In addition, relatively simple biophysical sample preparations and complementary experiments including e.g. dynamic light scattering and small-angle x-ray scattering will be carried out. The project furthermore requires regular travels not only to various neutron scattering facilities but also to project partner meetings. The PhD project will closely interact with a postdoctoral project that is equally part of the international collaboration and that will focus on the theory and simulations by modelling inter alia the structure factors, patchy attractions, and diffusion coefficients.
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