Postdoctoral position in molecular parasitology

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The Department of Molecular Biology seeks a postdoctoral scientist to the project “A systematic structure-function analysis of essential conserved hypothetical proteins of malaria parasites”. The position is full-time for two years with access August of 2023 or by agreement.

Project description and work responsibilities

Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites whose genome encode   ̴5000 genes. Out of these 30% code for proteins with no predicted function based on their amino acid sequence. A subset of these proteins is essential for parasite growth and thereby presents a catalogue of potential drug targets. Determination of protein structure can be used to delineate function, since proteins that perform same tasks have similar 3D shape. The recent arrival of the Deepmind AlphaFold tool predicts protein 3D structure in silico for entire organism proteomes including that of several Plasmodium species. This now offers a completely new avenue in determining gene function.

This project will use the EBI/EMBL AlphaFold Protein Structure Database and Dali Protein Structure Database Comparison Server to predict the function of 240 essential conserved hypothetical Plasmodium proteins. Based on in silico structure-functional predictions the successful candidate will select 10-20 proteins to study in-depth. Firstly, reverse genetics will be used to epitope-tag the proteins followed by microscopy and proteomics to study protein localisation and interaction partners. Secondly, the proteins will be expressed and biochemically characterised in vitro.

You will carry out experimental and bioinformatic work, design experiments, present your findings, write manuscripts, help supervising students and actively contribute to a collegial lab culture.

You will be based in the lab of Ellen Bushell at the Department of Molecular Biology, Umeå University. The Bushell lab is based at Department of Molecular Biology and is a part of The Laboratory of Molecular Infection Medicine Sweden (MIMS,, which is the Swedish node within the Nordic EMBL Partnership for Molecular Medicine. The project is co-supervised by Ronnie Berntsson at the Department of Medical Biochemistry and Biophysics.


A person who has been awarded a doctorate or a foreign qualification deemed to be the equivalent of a doctorate in life sciences (e.g. biology, biochemistry, medicine or biomedical sciences) is eligible for appointment as postdoctoral researcher. This eligibility requirement must be met no later than the time at which the appointment decision is made.

You should be highly motivated and able to work productively in a team as well as independently. Excellent communication skills for interacting effectively with senior colleagues and peers are required. Proficiency in written and spoken English also required. Great emphasis will be placed on personal suitability.

The successful candidate should have experience in molecular cloning methods such as CRISPR/Cas9 vector design and construction. You should also have experience in light and / or electron microscopy, or protein expression, localisation and interaction work.

Additional useful qualifications

Since appointment as a postdoctoral researcher is a career-development position for junior researchers, we are primarily interested in applicants who completed their doctoral degree no more than three years before the application deadline. If there are special reasons, an applicant who has completed their degree earlier than that may be considered. Special reasons include absence due to illness, parental leave, clinical practice, appointments of trust for a trade union organisation or other similar circumstances, and for relevant duties/assignments within the subject area. 

Experience in cultivation and transfection of malaria parasites is highly desirable, and so is in vivo experiments using rodents. Experience in protein expression, structure biology or biochemistry is not required as training is available but is a desirable merit.


The application must include:

  • A brief description of your research interests and a statement describing why you are interested in the position.
  • CV
  • List of publications
  • Degree certificate from doctoral studies and other relevant degrees

The application must be written in Swedish or English. The application must be made via our e-recruitment system Varbi and must be received latest 6 June 2023.

More information about the position

The appointment is a full-time, fixed-term position for two years in accordance with the terms of contract for fixed-term employment as a postdoctoral researcher.

For more information, please contact Dr Ellen Bushell (

We look forward to receiving your application!


  • Admission- August 2023 or by agreement
  • Salary- Montly salary
  • Application deadline- 2023-06-06
  • Registration number- AN 2.2.1-929-23


  • Ellen Bushell-

Union representative

  • SACO- 090-7865365
  • SEKO- 090-7865296
  • ST- 090-7865431