PhD position in newborn infectious diseases and therapeutics at the Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences

Copenhagen University
July 31, 2024
Offerd Salary:Negotiation
Working address:N/A
Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
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Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen

We seek to appoint a highly motivated and dynamic PhD student interested in immunology, vaccines and the development of novel therapeutics for infected newborn infants. The candidate should have good background in immunology or biomedicine, and research experience in animal models of infectious/inflammatory diseases and cellular/molecular analyses. The successful candidate will be affiliated to the research group in Cellular and Molecular Pediatrics, Section for Comparative Pediatrics and Nutrition, Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences. The position commences on 1 December 2024 or as soon as possible thereafter.

Information on the research group can be found at: https: // nutrition/cellular-and-molecular-pediatrics/

Information on the section can be found at: https: //

Our group and research

The research group in Cellular and Molecular Pediatrics is one among three interconnected research groups in Section of Comparative Pediatrics and Nutrition. The section offers a highly international, diverse and interdisciplinary environment, performing translational research and teaching related to physiology, immunology, microbiology, nutrition and diseases in both laboratory animals and human infants and children. The work extends from basic in vitro studies in cells and tissues (gut cell lines, primary blood and immune cells, and tissues) with various analytical techniques and omics technologies, to animal model studies (mainly in piglets) and intervention and cohort studies in infants at hospitals (exploring growth, gut, brain, immunity and microbiome).

In the research group of Cellular and Molecular Pediatrics, we focus on: 1) impact of perinatal complications (preterm birth, pre- and post-natal infection and inflammation) on immune development in early life; 2) Host, nutritional status and microbe interactions to determine health in early life; 3) Immune and metabolic mechanisms in neonatal infectious diseases (neonatal sepsis, necrotizing enterocolitis) and novel therapeutic approaches. Our research platforms and tools are based on: 1) preterm pig model of neonatal sepsis and necrotizing enterocolitis; 2) observational studies in human preterm infant cohorts; 3) multi-omic analyses (transcriptomics, proteomics, gut microbiome); 4) External collaborations with Danish and international hospitals/research centers working with newborn infants, neonatal mice and preterm lambs.

Project description

This PhD position will be a part of a project funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation within Basic Bioscience and Biomedicine. The overall aim of the project is to explore how early life nutrition and Bacille Calmette-Guérin (BCG) vaccine can prevent sepsis and mortality in infected newborns. Every year, millions of newborn infants, especially those born prematurely, die due to infection during the first month of life. In low-income settings including Africa, BCG vaccine administered shortly after birth in low-birth-weight infants confers protective effects against neonatal infection and all-cause mortality. This protective effect is beyond the specific protection of tuberculosis that BCG is supposed to target via adaptive immunity. This has contributed to the discovery of non-specific effects of vaccines. However, the World Health Organization (WHO) is still hesitant to recommend BCG vaccine shortly after birth for all newborn infants due to unclear mechanisms of protection, especially how BCG affects innate immunity in preterm infants. Further, it is unknown if early life nutrition has any contributing effects to how BCG alters newborn innate immunity. Our research group has established a unique model of neonatal sepsis in preterm piglets and found that there is an interplay between immunity and systemic metabolism to determine the immune response and clinical outcomes in infected newborns (https: // We also found that early life nutrition massively influences host metabolism and sepsis outcomes in infected animals. In this project, the PhD candidate will explore how BCG vaccine affects innate immune development in newborn animals, how and why it confers sepsis protective effects and whether early life nutrition contributes to this protection. The project will include a close collaboration with Prof. Tobias Kollmann and Dr. Nelly Amenyogbe (Dalhousie University).

The current position will mainly focus on animal studies and laboratory analyses within this project, including animal study execution and various tissue analyses (FACS, qPCR, transcriptomics and metabolomics). Depending on the competence and ambition, the candidate can also be involved in various sub-projects related to microbiome interventions using various animal models of infection and inflammation.

Principal supervisor is Associate Professor Duc Ninh Nguyen, Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, E-mail: [email protected], Direct phone : +4535333250.

Start: 1 December 2024

Duration: 3 years as a PhD student

Job description Your key tasks as a PhD student at SUND are:

  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision
  • Complete PhD courses or other equivalent education corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS points
  • Participate in active research environments including a stay at another research institution
  • Obtain experience with teaching or other types of dissemination related to your PhD project
  • Write a PhD thesis on the grounds of your project
  • Key criteria for the assessment of applicants Applicants must have qualifications corresponding to a Master's degree related to the subject area of the project e.g. medicine, biomedicine, immunology, microbiology, biology, veterinary medicine.

    Other important criteria are:

  • The grade point average achieved
  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project as described above
  • Previous publications
  • Relevant work experience
  • Other professional activities
  • Curious mind-set with a strong interest in neonatal health and diseases
  • Relevant experience with animal models (preferably models of infectious/inflammatory diseases) and laboratory skills related to molecular biology, immunology, microbiology and metabolism
  • Any experience with omics analyses (transcriptomics, metabolomics) or handling big data is a plus
  • Language skills
  • Place of employment

    The place of employment is at Department of Veterinary and Animal Sciences, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in dynamic and international research environment. Our research facilities include modern laboratories and animal facilities and a close connection to national and international hospitals.

    Terms of employment The employment as PhD fellow is full time and for 3 years.

    It is conditioned upon the applicant's success­ful enrolment as a PhD student at the Graduate School at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant.

    The PhD study must be completed in accordance with The Ministerial Order on the PhD programme (2013) and the Faculty's rules on achieving the degree.

    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. Depending on seniority, the monthly salary begins around 30,700 DKK /approx. 4,100 EUR (April 2024-level) plus pension.

    Questions For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact the principal supervisor Duc Ninh Nguyen (Email: [email protected])

    General information about PhD study at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences is available at the Graduate School's website: https: //

    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, language skills and other skills relevant for the position

    3. Master of Science diploma and transcript of records. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor will do. For PhD applicants: 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: Assessment database — English ( 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 possible)

    Application deadline: 31 July 2024 , 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.

    The further process 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.

    You can read about the recruitment process at https: //

    The applicant will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 242 of 13 March 2012 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities.

    Interviews are expected to be held in September 2024.

    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.

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