PhD Position in Organismal Systems Biology

Universität Bern Institute of Cell Biology

PhD position in Organismal Systems Biology

A PhD position in Organismal Systems Biology is available in the recently established group of Prof. Benjamin Towbin at the Institute of Cell Biology, University of Bern ( The student will be part of an interdisciplinary project at the intersection of systems biology, genetics, and evolution biology. The project will combine computational and experimental approaches using C. elegans.

Project description
Animals adjust their development to their nutritional conditions. When nutrients are scarce, most animals slow down growth and reproduction, and delay aging. In this project, we will investigate if and how such control provides a selective benefit to animals. We will ask how metabolic signalling networks, such as mTOR, adjust the growth of germline versus somatic tissues, and how this control optimizes tradeoffs between growth, reproduction, and aging.

The project will employ cutting-edge technologies, including quantitative live microscopy and automated image analysis, targeted genetic manipulation, and mathematical modelling of optimal control (see e.g. Towbin et al., Nature Communications, 2017). C. elegans is an outstanding model to test quantitative models of organismal development, given its small size, its short generation time, and its genetic tractability.
Your profile
For this interdisciplinary project, we look for enthusiastic candidates with an MSc degree in biology, bioengineering, or related fields, and an interest in quantitative approaches. We also encourage physicists and computational scientists with a strong interest in learning wet lab biology to apply. Foremost, candidates will require enthusiasm for cross-disciplinary research and proactivity in learning new skills.
We offer
The successful candidate will join a young, collaborative, and international research team, and contribute to a new line of research in Organismal Systems Biology. Our institute provides state-of-the-art infrastructure for the planned research, including advanced live microscopy and computational infrastructure for image processing. As the capital of Switzerland, Bern provides a high standard of living and is located one hour from major alpine resorts. The position is offered for 4 years.
Please, send a single PDF with the following documents by email to Prof. Benjamin Towbin:

1. detailed CV and motivation letter explaining why you want to join our lab, what you know, and what you want to learn
2. a short summary (half a page) of your MSc research
3. contact information for 2-3 academic references
4. copies of university transcripts

Evaluation of applications will start on the 31st May and will continue until the position is filled.

Contact and further information:,