PhD position

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology, Plön

Type of Job

Young Researchers

Developmental and Evolutionary Biology & Genetics Microbiology & Ecology

Job Code: 10/2020

Job offer from August 17, 2020

PhD position in Max Planck Research Group “Craniofacial Biology”

Craniofacial development and evolutionary aspects of intra- and
interspecies facial variability.

We are seeking a highly motivated candidate with an interest in craniofacial development and evolutionary aspects of facial variability, to join our group at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology.

The head is the most complex and sophisticated part of the vertebrate body, comprising of many cells and tissue types assembled during a complicated four-dimensional process of morphogenesis. The complex process of head formation is governed by several dozen genes that control patterning, cell proliferation, and specification. Once this morphogenetic process is disrupted, an abnormal development occurs and results in one or more anomalies from the wide spectra of craniofacial malformations. 

The head hosts important and sensitive structures such as the brain and sensory organs including the olfactory system, inner ear, eyes, and others. These delicate structures require protection both during embryonic development and postnatally and such protection is provided by the skull. The evolution of the skull (and stiff matrix in general) has been linked to the evolution of a sophisticated nervous system and it is evident that there is a close link between the developments of these two structures.

We combine interdisciplinary approaches to understand the genetic and molecular basis of craniofacial development in vertebrates and are particularly interested in the evolutionarily conserved link between the development of the nervous system and the development of the skull. Methods such as single-cell transcriptomics and genomics, high-resolution and whole-mount imaging, multiplex in situ hybridization, micro-computed tomography and 3D reconstructions, genetic tracing, tissue-specific gene modifications and a spectrum of in vivo & in vitro are commonly used in the lab. Our goal is to characterize cell types and tissues participating in the head morphogenesis and dissect their interactions on a cellular and molecular level.

By investigating the spatio-temporal activity of signals originating from the emerging nervous tissues, we aim to elucidate the mechanisms of cartilage and bone induction and shaping across vertebrates. Our main research model is a mouse, but chicken, zebrafish, and Xenopus are available at the institute as well, and in ovo work can be secured easily and performed directly in the lab.

The applicant is expected to have a deep knowledge of the research in fields of (including but not limited to) developmental and molecular biology. Prior experience working with the above-mentioned animal models is beneficial but not essential. Knowledge and experience with bioinformatics analysis of single-cell sequencing data are beneficial. A Master of Science degree or a Diploma, as well as a strong interest in EvoDevo biology, are prerequisites for joining our group. We offer an international, stimulating, and collaborative environment, access to state-of-the-art equipment, and further professional development.

Applicants with a strong motivation for a career in science, outstanding bench, and organizational skills, and excellent written and verbal English communication skills are welcome to apply.

The position is open from 01.01.2021. Candidates should send their CV, motivation letter, along with the names of at least two references to 

Informal inquiries are welcome and should be sent to the group leader as well.

The deadline for applications is the 1st of October 2020.

Please, see our recent publications for more information on our research interests:

  1. Spatiotemporal structure of cell fate decisions in murine neural crest.Soldatov R, et al. Science. 2019
  2. Signals from the brain and olfactory epithelium control shaping of the mammalian nasal capsule cartilage. Kaucka M, et al. eLife 2018
  3. Oriented clonal cell dynamics enables accurate growth and shaping of vertebrate cartilage. Kaucka M, et al. eLife 2017
  4. Analysis of neural crest-derived clones reveals novel aspects of facial development. Kaucka M, et al. Science Advances 2016

More details on the institute and the research group.

The Max Planck Society has set itself the goal of employing more severely disabled people. Applications from severely disabled people are expressly welcome. In addition, the Max Planck Society strives for gender equality and diversity. We welcome applications from any background. The Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Biology in Plön (Schleswig-Holstein) consists of three departments: Evolutionary Genetics, Evolutionary Theory, and Microbial Population Biology. It is focused on basic research to unravel general evolutionary processes, such as ecological adaptations, benefits of sexual reproduction, or evolution of cooperation. The scope of the work includes ecological, organismic, molecular, and theoretical approaches.

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