PhD Student - Molecular Mechanisms of Axonal Degeneration

PhD Student (1.0 FTE)

Faculty of Science

Radboud University and Donders Institute

Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Application deadline: 15.11.2023

Do you hold a Master’s degree in Neuroscience, (Molecular) (Neuro)Biology, Biomedical Sciences, Biochemistry, Genetics, or a related field, or are you close to obtaining one? Are you passionate about science and a critical and creative thinker? Are you interested in exploring the molecular mechanisms underlying motor neurodegenerative disease and perform cutting-edge biomedical research? Then you have a part to play as a PhD student! 

We are recruiting a PhD student who will work independently on Drosophila genetics projects. Your main project will involve the characterization of mutant lines identified in a forward genetic screen for genes required for axonal maintenance (unpublished). These mutants display adult-onset progressive degeneration of peripheral motor and/or sensory neurons. Phenotypic and molecular characterization of these mutants involves Drosophila genetic approaches, behavioral analysis, immunohistochemistry, fluorescent in situ hybridisation (FISH), in vivo noncanonical amino acid tagging (NCAT), confocal and super-resolution imaging, molecular biology, biochemistry, and next-generation sequencing. In addition, you will have the opportunity to contribute to other ongoing projects in the lab, e.g. studying the molecular pathogenesis of CMT peripheral neuropathy associated with mutations in tRNA synthetases, following up on our recently published work (Zuko, Mallik et al, Science, 2021). You will have the opportunity to collaborate with a senior postdoc and an experienced PhD student who can provide practical/experimental guidance. You will get some exposure to teaching in Master’s courses, and you will have the opportunity to collaborate with and supervise Master’s students.


You are a highly motivated, passionate, critical, and creative individual who wants to grow as a scientist. You are team-oriented, open to provide and receive feedback to/from lab mates, and keen to engage in scientific discussions. You hold a Master’s degree in Neuroscience, (Molecular) (Neuro)Biology, Biomedical Sciences, Biochemistry, Genetics, or a related field, or are you close to obtaining one. Previous experience with Drosophila genetics and molecular biology is a plus, but not required. We are a dynamic international lab, so a good command of English is essential.

Work environment

The Storkebaum lab combines Drosophila and mouse genetics to unravel molecular mechanisms underlying motor neurodegenerative and neuromuscular disorders. Our current focus is on Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) peripheral neuropathy associated with mutations in tRNA synthetases and on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) associated with mutations in FUS. More broadly, we are interested in the molecular mechanisms underlying axonal degeneration, with a focus on the role of mRNA translation defects. We use a broad spectrum of methods and techniques including a recently developed method for cell-type-specific in vivo labeling of newly synthesized proteins (NCAT), several high-end imaging techniques (confocal and super-resolution microscopy), single-molecule FISH, (single-cell/single-nucleus) transcriptomics, whole genome sequencing, mouse and Drosophila behavioural analysis, electromyography, histology, immunohistochemistry, molecular biology and biochemistry.

Our dynamic and international team currently consists of three postdocs, four PhD candidates and a technical assistant. In addition, we have strong local, national and international collaborations with scientists working on RNA biology and genetics. You will have the opportunity to attend and present your work to various audiences in lab meetings, institute’s seminars, and the Molecular Neurobiology Seminar Series (a Donders Institute Event), and to attend (inter)national conferences. We attracted substantial external funding, including an ERC consolidator grant, two JPND grants, and grants from the Radala Foundation for ALS Research, the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA), AFM, ARSLA, the Dutch ALS Association, ‘Prinses Beatrix Spierfonds’ and the Dutch Research Council NWO. We have several recent papers in high-impact journals, including Science (2), Nature Neuroscience (3), Journal of Cell Biology, Nature Communications (5), Acta Neuropathologica (2), and EMBO Journal.

We offer

  • employment: 1.0 FTE;
  • in addition to the salary: an 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • duration of the contract: four years.
  • Membership of the Donders Graduate School, including offers like peer coaching and a mentoring program.
  • excellent personal development opportunities in both scientific and academic career skills (e.g. writing, presenting, supervision, management/leadership);
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services. Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labor market, provide customized support in their search for employment and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
  • The vibrant international environment of the Donders Institute, which has a long tradition in neuroscience and offers a personal career development plan along with lecture series featuring top-notch speakers as well as several internal seminar series.
  • You will be able to attend a Dutch language course free of charge.

Are you interested in our excellent employment conditions?

Other Information

Nijmegen is a vibrant city surrounded by beautiful nature, ideally suited for hiking and sport activities. The Faculty of Science at Radboud University is an equal opportunity employer, committed to building a culturally diverse intellectual community, and as such encourages applications from women and minorities.

Would you like to know more?

Further information on: Storkebaum Lab

Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour

For more information about this vacancy, please contact:
Prof. Erik Storkebaum, Group Leader and Scientific Director, Donders Center for Neuroscience

Are you interested?

Please email your application to Erik Storkebaum ( Your application should include (and be limited to) the following documents:

  • Motivation letter (maximum one page)
  • CV
  • Contact details of two references

Written applications will be evaluated, and video interviews will be conducted with selected applicants. A further selection of applicants will be invited for a visit, which will include an introduction to all lab members, one-to-one meetings with lab members, a visit of the laboratory facilities, an interview and a scientific presentation.