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PhD student (m/f/d) - Auto-antibodies in Neurodegenerative Diseases

Berlin-Buch | Max Delbrück Center

The Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) in the Helmholtz Association is an international biomedical research center dedicated to understanding the molecular mechanisms of health and disease with the goal to devise new diagnostics and medicines. The MDC is a member of the Helmholtz Association, Germany's largest scientific organization, and offers an engaging research environment with cutting-edge research infrastructure. Currently, ~1250 employees and ~500 guest scientists work at the Berlin-Buch and Berlin-Mitte campuses. Our diverse workforce is a core strength that inspires creativity and innovation at the MDC.

The MDC is committed to improving human health through transformative biomedical research. Our goal is to pioneer discoveries for preventing, treating, and ultimately curing disease.

The research group “Proteomics and Molecular Mechanisms of Neurodegeneration” of Prof. Erich Wanker at the Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC) together with the research group of Prof. Harald Prüß "Autoimmune Encephalopathies" at the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) are currently offering the position of Doctoral Researcher (m/f/d) with a focus on auto-antibodies against amyloid-forming proteins in neurodegenerative diseases.
The main objective of our work is to understand the pathomechanisms of neuropsychiatric diseases. In the framework of the Clinical Research Unit BECAUSE-Y Berlin Center for Diagnosing, Understanding and Treating Antibody(Y)-mediated Neurological Diseases, we have received funding from the German Research Foundation to investigate the role of autoantibodies in diseases of the nervous system. We are offering a collaborative doctoral position for the project "Auto-Antibodies in Neurodegenerative Diseases: Identification of New Targets and Diagnostics".
Your main tasks will be the identification of autoantibodies that specifically recognize proteins associated with neurodegenerative diseases, such as amyloid-beta, α-synuclein or huntingtin, and their proteotoxic aggregate species.

Job Description

You will screen human autoantibodies against neurodegenerative disease proteins to identify their target epitopes. After validating the antibody-target interactions with biochemical and cell biological methods, you will develop diagnostic assays for detecting autoantibodies in biofluids of patients with neurodegenerative diseases. Your work will lay the foundation for new diagnostic tools. The project will entail the following tasks:

  • Generation of protein microarrays
  • CRISPR/Cas9-based genome editing
  • Flow cytometry approaches
  • Single-molecule detection techniques

General tasks:

  • Review of the literature
  • Data analysis, preparing and giving presentations, writing reports and grant proposals, preparing figures and manuscripts
  • Supporting the PI and seniors, mentoring students, and contributing to lab organisation
  • Collaborating with partner labs


You are required to hold a master’s degree or equivalent in a molecular life science discipline (molecular biology, biochemistry, biotechnology). You have:

  • Solid theoretical and experimental skills in molecular biology, biochemistry, cell culture, proven by very good thesis work
  • High intellectual curiosity and scientific reasoning skills, high motivation to acquire and develop new techniques and workflows
  • High computer literacy

Your ambition to achieve includes writing papers and grant proposals. You have an independent, well-organised and reliable work style and you want to contribute to the team spirit of our lab. 

We offer

  • international working environment with communication in English and German
  • interesting career opportunities and a range of opportunities for further qualification and training
  • Compatibility of family and career certified by the workandfamily audit (“berufundfamilie audit”)
  • Support for "New Berliners" through the MDC Welcome & Family Office
  • On-campus health and fitness center

We offer:

  • Excellent academic environment in internationally leading research groups in neurodegeneration
  • State-of-the-art research facilities at the MDC, an internationally competitive, highly visible research center in Berlin
  • Comprehensive opportunities for scientific and personal development as member of the MDC graduate school
  • Collaboration with basic and clinical researchers locally, nationally and internationally
  • Participation in prestigious conferences in the field

You also benefit from:

  • a remuneration in accordance with the collective agreement for the federal public service (TVöD-Bund), including additional company pension schemes
  • flexible working hours and childcare support
  • an idyllic green campus, which is easily accessible by bicycle, public transport or car
  • a secure job
  • Subsidy for the job ticket as well as discounts in the campus canteen
  • additional health benefits such as flu vaccination, eye test, ergonomics advice at the workplace
  • the possibility of mobile working
  • free use of Nextbike from the Buch S-Bahn station to the campus

Job Type:

Application Period:
April 17, 2024

MDC Berlin-Buch

Remuneration will be according to the collective agreement TVöD Bund, depending on the personal requirements, up to the fee group E13.

Employment volume:

Desired starting date:
July 01, 2024

Fixed Term
The position is limited to 48 months (24 months at Max Delbrück Center, 24 months at DZNE).

Sigrid Schnögl
AG Wanker

Commitment to Equity, Diversity and Inclusion:
MDC values diversity and is committed to fostering an inclusive, fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish. All qualified applicants will receive equitable consideration for employment based on their experience and qualifications, and will not be discriminated against on the basis of national or ethnic origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, age, or other personal characteristics. We recognize that creating diverse teams that represent a broad range of experiences, perspectives and backgrounds strengthen our work and research. We welcome applications from open-minded people who embrace working together in a diverse environment. Applications from severely disabled people will be given particular consideration.

Please use our online portal and submit your application including a cover letter, CV (without photo, age and information about your family status) and other relevant attachments.

If you have a foreign degree, please submit proof of the recognition of your Master's degree in Germany with your application. The proof can be determined via the anabin database ( and can be submitted as a PDF attachment to the application.

For information on fair mobility, click here:
The successful candidate will receive two consecutive contracts with a running time of two years each, first at the MDC, and second at the DZNE. For a more detailed description of the research project, please contact us.

Apply now