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Ref2112: Master thesis, genomics and transcriptional regulation

The research group of Alexander Stark is looking for a highly motivated master student, who is interested in the field of genomics and transcriptional regulation. The 1-year position will be available with a flexible starting date between September 2021 and January 2022.

Development of an organism depends on the accurate regulation of gene expression to ensure that each protein is produced in the right cell type and at the right time. Gene regulation implies that cells need to efficiently silence those genes that should not be active – failure to do so leads to severe developmental defects and diseases, such as cancer. However, despite its importance, our understanding of gene silencing is still incomplete.

The genome harbors regulatory DNA-sequences, which either activate (enhancers) or repress (silencers) gene transcription. In contrast to enhancers, silencers are very poorly characterized, with only a handful of reliable silencer sequences known. This master thesis project aims to better understand how silencers trigger gene silencing, based on a set of novel silencers that we have uncovered.

To address this question we will combine multiple state-of-the art techniques including: genomic screens (RNA-seq, ChIP-seq), CRISPR/Cas9, RNAi, FACS, luciferase reporter assays, fly genetics, Western blot analysis and molecular cloning. We will mainly use two model systems to study transcriptional repression: cultured fly cells for ease of performing large-scale experiments and flies to perform in vivo validations. Additionally, we have the option to extend our findings to the mammalian system using cultured mouse embryonic stem cells (mESCs).

This project will provide novel insights into how silencers are build and function, addressing a long standing question in the intriguing field of transcriptional regulation.

Applicants should hold a BSc degree in molecular biology or a related field, with at least 3 months of laboratory experience, particularly in the field of molecular biology. The research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP) is an international environment, requiring the candidate to have excellent oral and writing communication skills in English. The thesis project will span one year and includes a monthly allowance for the candidate.

If this ad has piqued your interest and you would like to join our group, please send us your CV, motivation letter and contacts of 1-2 referees to: lorena.hofbauer[at]