Master Thesis – Molecular Biology (m/f/d)


The IUF – Leibniz Research Institute for Environmental Medicine investigates the molecular mechanisms through which particles, radiation and environmental chemicals harm human health. The main working areas are environmentally induced aging of the pulmonary system and the skin as well as disturbances of the nervous and immune system. Through development of novel model systems, the IUF contributes to the improvement of risk assessment and the identification of novel strategies for the prevention / therapy of environmentally induced health damage. The working group “Genome Engineering and Model Development (GEMD)” led by Dr. Andrea Rossi is looking for

a student (f/m/d) for a master thesis with the title:
Characterization of brain organoids as a model for Cockayne Syndrome
Cockayne Syndrome (CS) is a rare inherited premature aging disorder which is caused by mutations in the CSA or CSB gene. In CS patients, the brain, which is one of the most severely affected organs, displays a complex pattern of developmental impairment and degenerative features particularly contributing to the fatal progress of the disease. However, the molecular mechanisms driving these changes still remain largely unknown which can in part be explained by the lack of appropriate models.
To overcome this problem, we generated brain organoids from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) either carrying disease-causing mutations in the CSB gene or the normal variant as a control. These brain organoids, which resemble the structure of the human brain and which can be cultivated for up to several months in vitro, represent an ideal model to study brain development under disease and normal conditions.
The aim of this project is to generate and characterize normal and CS brain organoids using various molecular biological, biochemical and histological methods (Real Time PCR, Western blot, ELISA…) to identify molecular targets and pathways involved in the pathology of CS and get a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms driving the disease. Our working group is looking for a motivated master student with marked enthusiasm for scientific research and a highly developed team spirit. The applicant should have a completed bachelor’s degree in cell biology, molecular biology or a related subject. Ideally, the applicant has practical experience with cell culture and basic molecular biological methods like Western blot and Real Time PCR. Good skills in English language are mandatory. The opportunity to learn and work with state-of-the-art techniques to study brain development in a currently uncurable disease and to identify novel pathomechanisms which may be of relevance for generating new therapeutic strategies for CS. Join an interdisciplinary international team with a pleasant and collegial working atmosphere for committing the next step in your scientific career.

Start: As soon as possible