Molecular determinants of selfish RNA

Advisor: Oliver Weichenrieder

PhD Program: Tübingen International PhD Program in the Biological Sciences (TIPP)
Location: Max Planck Institute for Biology

Project description

Research and tasks:

‘Selfish’ RNA likely is at the origin of all life on earth and it persists today in the form of retrotransposons and RNA-based viruses. We study human LINE-1 and Alu RNAs and how these ‘molecular parasites’ copy their sequences into genomic DNA. The molecular determinants that enable small RNA molecules to evolve into ‘selfish’ non-LTR retrotransposons are still poorly understood and neither are the factors of their eukaryotic hosts that act upon these RNAs. The selected doctoral candidate therefore will:

  • engineer and score RNA molecules in cell-based retrotransposition assays
  • use next-generation sequencing to analyze genomic integration preference
  • perform molecular analyses of known and unknown factors from the host

Our requirements:

  • We are looking for a curious and talented experimentalist with a keen interest in modern RNA biology.
  • You hold a Masters/ Diplom degree with experience in biochemistry/ molecular biology/ genome science (you can apply prior to obtaining the degree but must finish all degree work before the PhD start date).
  • You are highly motivated and show your interests, skills and knowledge to match the proposed topic.
  • You demonstrate a high level of written and spoken English. (Please include scores from the GRE General Test in your application if you have obtained your degree(s) outside of the European Higher Education Area)

Our offer:

  • You will join a small research team with full access to the institute’s scientific infrastructure and interconnected with a number of the institute’s other research groups via the Tübingen International PhD Program in the Biological Sciences (TIPP).
  • The TIPP is the joint graduate program of the Max Planck Institute for Biology Tübingen and the Friedrich Miescher Laboratory and aims to provide you with comprehensive training that promotes scientific excellence, independence and creativity.
  • Your position is fully funded (65% E13 TVöD – like contract).


Before registering to apply please check that you meet our requirements and familiarize yourself with the application process.

The earliest starting date is March 1st, 2022. Assessment of applications will begin end of January 2022.


More information on Oliver Weichenrieder and a selection of recent publications can be found on his faculty page.

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