Research Assistant - Biophysics of potassium channels: from atomistic protein folding, to clinical testing and drug design (Closed)

Pre-doctoral position
Position category: Research Assistant
Reference: 2023/77
Duration: 1 year
Application deadline: 2023/07/21
For more info contact the supervisors:
Aitor Bergara
Aritz Leonardo
How to apply

We are currently accepting applications for the above mentioned position. This is a unique opportunity for highly motivated students, recently graduated from the University in Physics or related fields, to gain research experience in one of DIPC’s high-profile research teams.

The role

The Kv family of ion channels are tubular-shaped proteins allocated in the membrane of neurons. These proteins control the traffic flow of potassium ions between the inside and outside of the cell, and hence, electrical communication between neurons and muscles. Mutations occurring on the Kv channels have been linked to different subtypes of epilepsies. Moreover, it is unclear why or how motor neurons die in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), yet we do know that the activity of these channels is altered and that these dying cells undergo spontaneous (uncontrolled) electrical discharges. Hence, defects in ion channels may cause these motor neurons to degenerate. A drug named Riluzole that fits into a specific pocket of the potassium ion channels alters how they work, and is the first approved treatment for ALS. The present project is multidisciplinary and has the following objectives:

  • Perform Molecular dynamics simulations to support the hypothesis that certain mutations cause erroneous cotranslational folding of the channel inside the Ribosome.
  • Extend the algorithm developed by our group based on Machine Learning intended for clinical use, which correctly predicts the pathogenicity of possible mutations that occur in these proteins.
  • In-silico repurpose approved molecule libraries, that resemble the effect of Riluzole on the channels.

Desired background & competences

We are looking for a candidate with a degree in physics, but the candidate's profound knowledge in computing and biology will be highly valued.

Working conditions

  • Estimated annual gross salary: Salary is commensurate with qualifications and consistent with our pay scales
  • Target start date: 2023/10/01

We provide a highly stimulating research environment, and unique professional career development opportunities.

We offer and promote a diverse and inclusive environment and welcomes applicants regardless of age, disability, gender, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender identity.

The center

DIPC is a research center whose mission is to perform and catalyze cutting-edge research in physics and related disciplines, as well as to convey scientific culture to society. Located in Donostia / San Sebastian (Basque Country, Spain), DIPC was born from a strategic alliance of both public institutions and private companies. Since 2008 DIPC is a 'Basque Excellence Research Center' (BERC) recognized by the Basque Government's Department of Education. In 2019, DIPC was also recognized as a "Severo Ochoa" Excellence Center by the Spanish Research Agency.

About the team

We are a multidisciplinary group made up of: physicists, chemists, biochemists and mathematicians who have recently come together to address biophysics problems. Our mission is to offer complementary computational support to any laboratory or industry in the BIO world that wishes to integrate in-silico techniques into experiments.

A more detailed information of the group can be found in our web page:

How to apply

Interested candidates should submit an updated CV and a brief statement of interest to the following application email below. 

Reference letters are welcome but not indispensable.

The reference of the specific opening to which the candidate is applying should be stated in the subject line, and the application must be received before the application deadline.

Although candidates are welcome to contact the project supervisors to know further details about the proposed research activity, please be aware that the application will be evaluated only if it is submitted directly to the email address listed below as application email.

Selection process

Applications received by the deadline will be evaluated by a Committee designed by the DIPC board on the basis of the following criteria:

  • CV of the candidate (60%)
  • Adequacy of the candidate’s scientific background to the project (20%)
  • Reference letters (10%)
  • Other: Diversity in gender, race, nationality, etc. (10%)

Evaluation results will be communicated to the candidates soon after. Positions will only be filled if qualified candidates are found.

The DIPC may revoke its decision if the candidate fails to join by the appointed time, in which case the position will be awarded to the candidate with the next highest score, provided it is above 50 (out of 100).

However, the selected candidate may keep the position if, in the opinion of the Selection Committee, the candidate duly justifies the reasons why he or she cannot join before the specified deadline, and as long as the project allows it.




The resolution of this opening has been already published. You can download it here.