PhD scholarship in multi-drug resistant bacterial pathogens

Monday 29 Jul 19

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We seek an enthusiastic and motivated candidate for a three-year Ph.D. scholarship in the area of molecular microbiology to study and explore the molecular mechanisms underlying the emergence and spread of MDR/XDR Pseudomonas aeruginosa clone types.


The PhD position is available in the ‘Infection Microbiology group’ lead by Lars Jelsbak at the Department of Biotechnology and Biomedicine (DTU Bioengineering). The position will be available from October 1st, 2019 or as soon as possible thereafter.

The increasing prevalence of hospital-acquired infections by MDR/XDR P. aeruginosa is frequently linked to a limited number of epidemic high-risk clones. The mechanisms that enable these particular clones (but not others) to emerge as drug-resistant high-risk clones is currently not well understood. The aim of the PhD project is to identify and experimentally analyse the genetic causes (and their phenotypic effects) that underlie the emergence of these devastating clone types. The mechanistic insight obtained in this project may help to improve early diagnostics to stop the continuing spread of these clones or to better predict their emergence.


You will be part of the project “Deciphering the molecular mechanisms underlying the emergence of high-risk MDR/XDR clones of Pseudomonas aeruginosa”. The project is funded by a grant from the Independent Research Fund Denmark, Medical Sciences (FSS).

The purpose of the PhD project is to analyse genetic variations found genes and gene clusters and to determine how these variations can modify clinically relevant phenotypes in P. aeruginosa. We have already identified several candidate genetic loci that are ready for analysis, and the project will also include identification and analysis of additional loci.  

In this PhD project, you will:
  • Determine the contributions of specific genetic variations in Pseudomonas aeruginosa to the development of MDR/XDR phenotypes. This will include construction and use of plasmid vectors for cloning of large DNA fragments and construction and verification of recombinant strains with or without the specific genetic variations.
  • Analyse the recombinant strains for their tolerance to antibiotics, altered virulence properties, ability to acquire antibiotic resistance genes by horizontal gene transfer, as well as other relevant phenotypes.
  • You will also participate in our effort to identify additional potential genetic variations that contribute to the emergence of epidemic, drug resistant clones. This will include sequencing and analysing P. aeruginosa genomes.
  • Your research will contribute to our efforts in identifying usable biomarkers for these particular clones.
  • Disseminate your results through scientific publications, conference presentations and group meetings.
  • Supervise M.Sc. and B.Sc. students.

Candidates should have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree.


We are looking for a candidate with a background in bacteriology and microbial genetics, and with an interest in understanding the mechanisms underlying the evolution of epidemic, antibiotic-resistant pathogens. The ideal candidate should preferably have experience with genetic engineering of bacterial genomes and plasmids and knowledge of genome editing/synthetic biology methods. Practical lab experience and a wish to work in the lab is a plus. You are an efficient team worker, have good communication skills, and have a critical approach to formulation and testing of hypotheses. Also, a good sense of humor will be appreciated.

Approval and Enrolment

The scholarship for the PhD degree is subject to academic approval, and the candidate will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.


The assessment of the applicants will be made by Professor MSO Lars Jelsbak.


We offer
DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms

The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years. 

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.
Further information

Further information may be obtained from Professor MSO Lars Jelsbak, or +45 4525 6129.

You can read more about DTU Bioengineering at

You can read more about the ‘Infection Microbiology Group’ at DTU Bioengineering at


Please submit your online application no later than 19 August 2019 (local time)


Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here

Candidates may apply prior to obtaining their master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.


Applications and enclosures received after the deadline will not be considered.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, race, disability, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.


The Department of Biotechnology and Biomedicine (DTU Bioengineering) conducts research, educates future bio-engineers, provides scientific advice and innovate within the areas of microbiology, biochemistry, biotechnology and biomedicine. The research at DTU Bioengineering is at the highest international level and focuses on the societal and scientific challenges within the field. Research is conducted within three main areas: Microbial ecology and physiology, Industrial biotechnology and cell factories, and Biomedicine and health. The department has extensive collaboration with national and international research units and industries. DTU Bioengineering has approx. 160 employees, of which 2/3 is scientific staff. The department is located at DTU Lyngby Campus


DTU is a technical university providing internationally leading research, education, innovation and scientific advice. Our staff of 6,000 advance science and technology to create innovative solutions that meet the demands of society, and our 11,200 students are being educated to address the technological challenges of the future. DTU is an independent university collaborating globally with business, industry, government and public agencies.