Researchers in Cell and Structural Biology

University of Helsinki Institute of Biotechnology

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The ‘Actin-based molecular machines’ group of Academy Professor Pekka Lappalainen is inviting applications for post-doctoral researchers and/or PhD-students in cell biology, biochemistry, and structural biology.

The actin cytoskeleton is critical for a vast number of vital cellular processes such as morphogenesis, motility, endocytosis, cytokinesis, and mechanosensing. Abnormalities in actin-dependent processes, including cell morphogenesis, motility and cytokinesis, are hallmarks of cancer. Moreover, many pathogens exploit the actin polymerization machinery of the host cell during the infection process. The research group of Pekka Lappalainen uses an array of biochemical, cell biological, genetic, and structural biology methods to reveal how structure and dynamics of the actin cytoskeleton are regulated in various cellular and pathological processes.

The group is seeking for dedicated and enthusiastic post-doctoral fellows and/or PhD-students to join projects that focus on: 1). Understanding the mechanisms by which contractile, mechanosensitive actomyosin bundles assemble in human cells, and 2). Elucidating functions of the actin cytoskeletons in evolutionarily distant pathogenic unicellular parasites. The post-doctoral applicants should hold PhD in cell biology, biochemistry, or a related field. Strong expertise in protein biochemistry, structural biology, or cell biology is highly beneficial. The PhD-student applicants should obtain MSc or related degree in the molecular biology field latest by the end of year 2021, and have a strong interest to carry out cutting-edge research. The PhD-student will be subsequently enrolled in one of the graduate programs of our university. The positions will provide multiple opportunities for collaborations and laboratory visits abroad. An attitude to carry out ambitious research projects, as well as to learn and apply a wide variety of methodologies and advanced techniques is highly appreciated. The working language of the laboratory is English; knowledge of the Finnish language is not necessary.

The postdoctoral researcher and PhD-student positions are initially limited to 2 and 4 years, respectively, with a possibility of extension. A trial period of 6 months will be applied, and the salaries will be based on the University salary scheme for teaching and research personnel composed of both task specific and personal performance components.

Application should include the following documents as a single pdf file (max 5 pages): CV, list of publications, motivation letter including a description of your research interests, and the names and telephone numbers of at least two referees. Please submit your application, together with the required pdf attachment, through the University of Helsinki electronic recruitment system by clicking on the ‘Apply for job’ button. Internal applicants (i.e., current employees of the University of Helsinki) should submit their applications through the SAP HR portal. For technical support regarding the recruitment system, please contact ‘’.

The deadline for the applications is 15th of April, 2021, but the positions will be filled immediately once suitable candidates have been identified.

For informal inquiries, contact ‘pekka.lappalainen(at)’, and for more information about our research, please visit

For technical support regarding the recruitment system, please contact

Selected recent publications:
Hakala M, Wioland H, Tolonen M, Kotila T, Jegou A, Romet-Lemonne G, Lappalainen P (2021): Twinfilin uncaps filament barbed ends to promote turnover of lamellipodial actin networks. Nature Cell. Biol. 23: 147-159.
Lehtimäki JI, Rajakylä EK, Tojkander S, Lappalainen P (2021): Generation of stress fibers through myosin-driven re-organization of the actin cortex. eLife. 10:e60710.
Kumari R, Jiu Y, Carman PJ, Tojkander S. Kogan K, Varjosalo M, Gunning PW, Dominguez R, Lappalainen P (2020): Tropomodulins control the balance between protrusive and contractile structures by stabilizing actin-tropomyosin filaments. Curr. Biol. 30: 767–778.
Kotila T, Wioland H, Enkavi G, Kogan K, Vattulainen I, Jégou A, Romet-Lemonne G, Lappalainen P (2019): Mechanism of synergistic actin filament pointed end depolymerization by cyclase-associated protein and cofilin. Nature Commun. 10:5320.
Jiu Y, Kumari R, Fenix AM, Schaible N, Liu X, Varjosalo M, Krishnan R, Burnette DT, Lappalainen P (2019): Myosin-18B promotes the assembly of myosin II stacks for maturation of contractile actomyosin bundles. Curr. Biol. 29:81-92.

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Due date

15.04.2021 23:59 EEST