The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) is a world-leading internationally oriented research center, committed to discovering new approaches to prevent and treat neurodegenerative diseases. To this end, researchers at ten DZNE sites across Germany pursue a translational and interdisciplinary strategy comprising five interconnected areas: fundamental research, clinical research, health care research, population health science, and systems medicine.

Ph.D. position (f/m/x)

Code: 10043/2022/12

Brain functioning critically relies on neuronal communication that mainly occurs by chemical signaling at the specialized contacts known as synapses. At synapses, messenger molecules are packed into synaptic vesicles (SVs), which are secreted upon the arrival of an action potential. Indeed, loss of SVs and synaptic deficits are associated number of neurodegenerative diseases. For neuronal signaling to persist, synapses have to maintain an adequate pool of SVs at all times. In fact, synapses contain hundreds of SVs that are tightly clustered. Decades of research have established that SVs are clustered by synapsin 1, an abundant SV-associated phosphoprotein at synapses. The classical view postulates that synapsin cross-links SVs together in a modifiable scaffold of protein-protein interactions between synapsin and its binding partners. However, recent studies suggest that synapsin clusters SVs via liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS), which brings the classical model into question. Liquid-liquid phase separation (LLPS) is a process in which one or multiple components in the same state segregate from another component into distinct compartments, for example, demixing of oil in water.  The research group of Dragomir Milovanovic (Molecular Neuroscience) focuses on the LLPS at the synaptic biology and pathology.

The main topic of the Ph.D. is to dissect how the features of the intrinsically disordered sequences of synapsin 1 and a-synuclein affect the synaptic vesicle organization and dynamics at the synaptic boutons.

Students with the background in chemistry, physics and electrical engineering are especially encouraged to apply. Specifically, the student will combine bottom-up and top-down approaches using purified proteins and synaptic vesicles with live-cell imaging of neurotransmitter release in primary neurons of different mouse models.  The Molecular Neuroscience lab is located at the vibrant Charité Cross Over Campus in Berlin. The perspective student will be enrolled at the Biochemistry Program of the Free University of Berlin.

Your tasks

The graduate studies include a holistic and rigorous training in advanced experimental techniques including protein biochemistry, live-cell imaging (confocal, TIRF, STED), protein/lipid reconstitution assays, murine genetics. Moreover, the Ph.D. student will be trained in experimental design, pursing their own interest while aligned with the overarching theme of the thesis. They will be expected to actively participate in supervising junior researches (e.g., summer-, rotation-, and bachelor students), communicate their research at the joint lab meetings, participate at the conferences, and proactively write research papers.


We are looking for a Ph.D. student with a strong experience and background in:

(i) protein biochemistry (e.g., size exclusion-, affinity-, ion exchange- chromatography);

(ii) general molecular biology (e.g., PCR, agarose gels, sequencing, cloning, site-directed mutagenesis, SDS-PAGE gels, Native Gels, Western Blots);

(iii) biophysical methods (e.g., ITC, fluorescence-based methods).

While the background in neurobiology is an advantage, we are absolutely welcoming the applications from students with the background in chemistry, (bio)engineering, (bio)physics, and electrical engineering, who want to pursue the Ph.D. education focusing on molecular neuroscience. The successful candidate should hold a M.Sc. degree or equivalent, have the excellent experimental experience described above, and professional skills such as:

• Good organizational and communication skills;

• Self-motivated with strong interest in team work;

• Experience with general computer programs and possibly computer databases;

• Needs to be open for learning new techniques and engaging in collaborative projects.


We offer

  • An interesting and challenging research question in a comprehensive scientific environment that works on the future topics of health research
  • An international environment characterized by a strong focus on science and research
  • A high potential for the individual development of our employees
  • Targeted personnel development
  • Employment, payment and social benefits are consistent with those at other research institutes
  • A position available starting from April 2023, initially temporary limited to 2 years with the possibility for further extension

Application should include

1. Cover Letter emphasizing the motivation, suitability for the position, and future plans

2. Detailed Curriculum Vitae

3. University Transcripts

For any specific question and informal inquiries, feel free to reach out to

Apply now



Contact details

Dr. Dragomir Milovanovic

Working hours


Contract length

2 years, extension possible

Payment, social benefits

consistent with those at other research institutes

Application deadline

December 31th, 2022

You will obtain special skills and knowledge for your scientific qualification during your activities at DZNE. The DZNE is an equal opportunity employer. It is committed to employing disabled individuals and especially encourages them to apply.