The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) is a unique non-university research center which is dedicated to the subject dementia and all its areas, as well as other neurodegenerative diseases. The center compasses the full spectrum of fundamental research through population sciences to health care research. The DZNE stands for excellence in research and science management, translation of scientific results into practice, interdisciplinarity and internationalization. It is a research center within the Helmholtz Organization of German research centers. With over 1000 employees from 55 nations, spread over 10 sites, the DZNE is one of the national and international leading research centers in its research field. 

PhD Student (f/m/d)

Code: 10023/2020/6

To join the Research Group "Neurogenetics" led by Stephan Sigrist starting from September 1st, 2020. We are looking for a PhD student with an interest in the mechanisms of synaptic plasticity in the course of age-induced memory impairment. The project aims at the understanding of how especially presynaptic structural long-term plasticity couples with the aging process in the memory center of Drosophila called the mushroom body. Our central hypothesis is that the setpoint of presynaptic plasticity shifts with increasing age, in result decreasing the capability of storing new information, e.g. the ability to form olfactory memories.

In our group, we work on projects regarding mechanisms of synaptic organization and plasticity, in both healty and diseased animal models.

Overall, the project provides a highly interdisciplinary approach to in vivo address connect the level of discrete synapse populations with behavioural readouts, paerticularly olfactory learning.

Your tasks

  • The candidate is expected to perform experimental bench work, oral presentation of the results, as well as the preparation of manuscripts for publication in international scientific journals.
  • Experimental work includes molecular biology, Drosophila genetics, biochemistry of synaptosome preparations,  intravital live-cell imaging, behavioural analysis, patch-clamp electrophysiology.
  • Active participation in local, national, and international conferences is expected.


  • We are looking for an open-minded, enthusiastic, and highly-talented junior researcher with good social skills for our teamwork-oriented research group.
  • Demonstrable interest in basic biological research, strong analytical skills, ability for independent and critical thinking, organizational talent, and excellent communication and writing skills in the English language are a prerequisite.
  • Experience with the standard methods in Drosophila genetics, behavioral analysis, fluorescence microscopy, molecular biology or electrophysiology are appreciated.
  • Successful candidates have a masters degree in life sciences

We offer

  • A doctoral position in an international, highly interactive environment at the DZNE Berlin embedded in the strong Berlin neuroscience research community.
  • An exciting and challenging position in a research center that works on state-of-the art health research topics.
  • The project provides a highly interdisciplinary approach to address the scientific questions described above.
  • Excellent career development opportunities for our employees. You will obtain special skills and knowledge for your scientific qualification during your activities at DZNE.
  • The successful candidate will be directly supervised by Prof. Dr. Sigrist, and support and mentoring will be available at every step along the way. Training in general scientific methods, more specialized methods employed by the research unit, and scientific writing will be provided.
  • The opportunity to utilize state-of-the-art equipment and facilities
  • A PhD appointment of initially 2 years with the possibility of extension.
  • The PhD candidate can be registered as such in an external University, or can be registered as a PhD student in the Charite Berlin, Freie University Berlin, or the Humboldt University Berlin
  • Employment, payment, and social benefits are consistent with those at other research institutions
  • The PhD candidate can be registered as a PhD student at the Freie University Berlin or the Humboldt University Berlin and can be part of an external PhD program.

Applications should contain the following documents (in English):

  • A detailed Curriculum Vitae
  • A cover letter with research interest

We are looking forward to your application!




Contact details

Stephan Sigrist

Working hours


Contract length

2 years, extension possible

Payment, social benefits

consistent with those at other research institutes

Application deadline

July 9th, 2020

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.