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: 10031/2021/7

The research group of Dragomir Milovanovic (Molecular Neuroscience) aims to understand: How is the spatial organization of organelles and macromolecules regulated in the crowded environment of the cytosol at the nerve terminal?  We hypothesize that the presence of intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs)–low amino acid complexity sequences that do not fold into any stable secondary or tertiary structure—plays an essential role in balancing the solubility with the spatial patterning.  Many proteins involved in the synaptic vesicle recycling contain long IDRs.  For example, synapsin 1 – the most abundant synaptic phosphoprotein – contains long IDR that allows for its phase separation.

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.  Apart from synapsins, another protein family that lacks a stable tertiary structure, is the family of synucleins (a-, b-, and g- synuclein).  In the past three decades, a-synuclein has been under the spotlight because of its involvement in neurodegenerative diseases, collectively called synucleinopathies, not the least Parkinson’s disease.  Recent data from our lab show that synaptic vesicle mobility and cluster density depend on a tight balance between concentrations of synapsin 1 and a-synuclein.

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.  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 medicine, 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 January 2022, initially temporary limited to 2 years with possible extension for another year

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

Application should include:

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

2. Detailed Curriculum Vitae

3. University Transcripts

Apply now



Contact details

Dr. Dragomir Milovanovic

Working hours


Contract length

2 years, extension possible

Payment, social benefits

consistent with those at other resesearch insitutes

Application deadline

October 29th. 2021

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