PhD Position in Stem Cell Biology and Neural Development

University of Copenhagen

PhD position in stem cell biology and neural development at the NNF Center for Stem Cell Medicine

Position:                                   PhD Fellow, full-time, 3 years
Start:                                         1/9-2022
Application deadline:              1 June 2022, 23.59pm CET

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Medicine (reNEW) at University of Copenhagen is looking for a PhD fellow to join the Human Neural Development group led by PI Agnete Kirkeby. The position is scheduled to commence on the 1st of September 2022 or on a nearby alternative date upon agreement with the chosen candidate. The position is for 3 years.

Research group
The Human Neural Development research team is located at the The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Stem Cell Medicine (reNEW) at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences of University of Copenhagen. Our group works to develop stem cell transplantation therapies for brain disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease, dementia and narcolepsy by producing high-purity cultures of subtype-specific human neural cells in the lab and testing these in animal models of disease. We further apply advanced stem cell technologies to study normally inaccessible stages of human brain development as well as to produce models of human brain diseases in the dish (i.e. Parkinson’s Disease, Schizophrenia and hypothalamic disorders).

We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in a dynamic and highly international research environment. Our team currently consists of 14 team members at University of Copenhagen + 4 team members in our sister group at Lund University, coming from 8 different nationalities. Our labs at University of Copenhagen are located in a new and modern research facilities and include state-of-the-art laboratories, pleasant office facilities and access to high-quality core facilities in transcriptomics, imaging, flow cytometry and proteomics.

To read more about the team:

Job description
We are seeking a highly motivated and ambitious pre-doctoral candidate with a strong educational background in the field of biotechnology, biomedicine, biology, medicine or bioinformatics. The candidate will enter into a research project aiming to uncover human ventral midbrain lineage trajectories with the aim of improving cell therapies for Parkinson’s Disease, as well as for disease modelling and drug screening. The candidate will apply stem cell culturing, directed neural differentiation, single cell RNA sequencing high-throughput qRT-PCR, flow cytometry, immunocytochemistry and transplantation to rodents to uncover factors involved in the generation of subtype-specific human ventral midbrain lineages.

Your key tasks are:

  • Carry out an independent research project under supervision 
  • Participate in an active and ambitious research environment with a high degree of collaborative interactions between team members

The technologies you will apply are:

  • Culturing and neural differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells
  • Assessment of neuronal subtypes in the dish through qRT-PCR and immunocytochemistry
  • Flow cytometry and FACS sorting for purifying different cell types
  • Preparing cells for performing single cell RNA sequencing (10X platform)
  • Preparing cells for intracerebral transplantation to rats

Key criteria for the assessment of applicants
The following requirements for the candidate will be assessed as key criteria for the recruitment.

Mandatory requirements:

  • Master’s degree related to the subject area of the project e.g. Biology, Biomedicine, Biotechnology, Human Biology, Bioinformatics/data science or similar
  • Prior experience in participating in biological research project(s)
  • Prior experience in working in R
  • Prior experience in cell culturing, in particular working with stem cells and directed neural differentiation
  • Fluency in English, written and spoken.

Positively assessed criteria:

  • Prior experience in immunostaining and microscopy
  • Prior experience in RNA extraction and qRT-PCR
  • Prior experience/knowledge on developmental biology and lineage trajectories 
  • Prior experience from working well in teams and collaborative projects
  • Well-organized, self-motivated, result-oriented and capable of working independently
  • Positive reviews from previous supervisors, collaborators or mentors

Terms of salary, work, and employment
The successful candidate will be offered a full-time position for a total of 4 years – the first year as research assistant and the following 3 years as PhD fellow. The transfer to employment as a PhD student after the first year is conditioned upon a positive assessment of the candidate ́s research performance during the first year as well as acceptance of enrolment in the Graduate School at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences. The transfer from Research assistant to PhD student may take place at an earlier time point than 1 year, if agreed upon between the PI and candidate, and conditioned by a positive assessment.

Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with the agree­ment between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State.

The PhD study must be completed in accordance with the ministerial orders from the Ministry of Education on the PhD degree and the University ́s rules on achieving the degree. General information about PhD study at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences is available at the Graduate School’s website:

Application procedure
Your application must be submitted electronically by clicking ‘Apply now’ below. The application must include the following documents in PDF format: 

  1. Motivated letter of application (max. one page)
  2. CV incl. education, experience from previous research projects, previous employments, technical skills, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
  3. Certified copy of original Master of Science diploma and transcript of records in the original language, including an authorized English translation if issued in other language than English or Danish. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor is accepted. As a prerequisite for a PhD fellowship employment, your master’s degree must be equivalent to a Danish master’s degree. We encourage you to read more in the assessment database: Please note that we might ask you to obtain an assessment of your education performed by the Ministry of Higher Education and Science
  4. Publication list (if relevant)
  5. Reference letters (optional)

Contact information:
For questions about the project and group, please contact the principal supervisor:

Associate Professor Agnete Kirkeby, e-mail: phone: +45 5168 5353

Application deadline:  1 June 2022, 23.59pm CET
We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

Assessment procedure
After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the hiring committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an unbiased assessor.

The assessor makes a non-prioritized assessment of the academic qualifications and experience with respect to the above-mentioned area of research, techniques, skills and other requirements listed in the advertisement.

Once the assessment work has been completed each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself.

The applicant will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 242 of 13 March 2012 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities. You can read about the recruitment process at

The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences comprises approximately 7500 students, 1500 PhD students and 3200 employees. The Faculty advances the field of health sciences through its core activities: research, teaching, knowledge sharing and communication. With basic research fields ranging from molecular studies to studies of society, the Faculty contributes to a healthy future through its graduates, research findings and inventions benefitting patients and the community. The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all regardless of personal background to apply for the position.


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Application deadline: 01-06-2022
Employment start: 01-09-2022
Working hours: Full time
Department/Location: reNEW NNF Center for Stem Cell Medicine