PhD fellowship in Discovery and Characterization of Non-metabolite Ligands for HCA Receptors at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research

We are offering a PhD fellowship in Discovery and Characterization of Non-metabolite Ligands for HCA Receptors commencing October 15, 2019.

About us
The Center was established in 2010 through a generous, unrestricted grant from the Novo Nordisk Foundation. The vision of the Center is to strengthen interdisciplinary research that transforms our basic understanding of the mechanisms of metabolic health and disease, and to accelerate this knowledge toward new prevention and treatment strategies. The Center has around 200 employees from all over the world. Its employees moved into new laboratories, offices and meeting rooms in the Maersk Tower in summer 2017. In 2018, the Center obtained new strategic funding from the Novo Nordisk Foundation to further expand and establish/develop five enabling biology and technology platforms in support of the new research strategy. You can read more about us at

The PhD fellowship is a collaborative project between the Frimurer and Schwartz Groups. A major aim of the Frimurer and Schwartz Groups is to discover non-metabolite ligands for metabolite receptors and use these as pharmacological tools to try to understand how signaling metabolites and their GPCR sensors interact with hormonal and neuronal mechanism to control endocrine and metabolic functions as the basis for developing novel means to prevent and treat obesity and diabetes. Read more at and

The Frimurer and Schwartz Groups work in close collaboration with other groups of the Nutrient and Metabolite Sensing program as well as the other programs of the Center as such (see more on The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research represents a highly international research environment characterise by teamwork and collaborations across a range of biomedical disciplines.

Project description
Metabolites such as lactate and ketone bodies function as highly tissue and cell exchangeable metabolites, which function not only as classical metabolites energy sources and metabolic building blocks, but they also have important functions as extracellular signaling molecules, which are sensed by GPR81 (HCAR1) and GPR109A (HCAR2) respectively. These metabolite sensors are particularly highly expressed in adipose tissue, but also in many other cells of the body. In order to characterize and understand the physiological role of these metabolites as signaling molecules versus classical metabolites it is mandatory to have access to synthetic, non-metabolite ligands which mimic or block the function of the specific metabolite receptors. The project aims at identifying novel selective, synthetic agonists and antagonists for GPR81 and -109A by use of a well-established proprietary structure-based, computational chemistry driven ‘drug discovery’ technology and use these in invitro and subsequently in vivo animal experiments in combination with genetic receptor models.

Associate Professor Thomas M. Frimurer (, head of the Computational Chemistry Platform, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research.
Professor Thue W. Schwartz (, head of the Metabolite Sensing and Signaling Research Program, Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research.

Job description
Your key tasks as a PhD student at SUND are:

  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision
  • Complete PhD courses or other equivalent education corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS points
  • Participate in active, interdisciplinary research environments including a stay at another research team
  • Obtain experience with teaching or other types of dissemination related to your PhD project
  • Teach and disseminate your research
  • Write a PhD thesis on the grounds of your project

Key criteria for the assessment of candidates
Applicants must have qualifications corresponding to a master’s degree related to the subject area of the project e.g. molecular biomedicine, biochemistry, cell biology, molecular biology, etc. and have experience in working with structure-based computational chemistry.

Other important criteria are:

  • The grade point average achieved
  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD program including hands-on computational chemistry as well as molecular biology methods including mutational analysis
  • Prior knowledge in metabolic research and molecular pharmacology will be considered an advantage
  • Previous publications
  • Relevant work experience
  • Other professional activities
  • Ability to and experience with working in an international environment, where collaboration across clinical and academic sector is important
  • Skills in working interdisciplinary
  • Language skills

Place of employment
The place of employment is at Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research, Panum Institute, University of Copenhagen. We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in dynamic and international research environment. Our research facilities include modern laboratories, bioinformatic and statistic guidance, and access to big data from multiple cohorts.

Terms of employment and employment
The employment as PhD fellow is a full time and for 3 years. Starting date is October 15, 2019.

The appointment as a PhD fellow is for 3 years. It is conditioned upon the candidate’s successful enrolment in the PhD school at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the candidate.

The PhD study must be completed in accordance with The Ministerial Order on the PhD program (2013) and the University’s rules on achieving the degree. Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with the agree­ment between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. Depending on seniority, the monthly salary begins at DKK 27,135/approx. EUR 3,642 (April 2019-level) plus pension.

For specific information about the PhD scholarship, please contact the principal supervisor.

General information about PhD programs at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences is available at the Graduate School’s website:

Application procedure
Your application must be submitted electronically by clicking ‘Apply now’ below. The application must include the following documents in PDF format:

  1. Motivated letter of application (max. one page)
  2. CV incl. education, experience, language skills and other skills relevant for the position
  3. A certified/signed copy of Master of Science certificate. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor will do
  4. Publication list (if possible)

Application deadline: September 22, 2019, 23.59 p.m. CET.

We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

The further process
After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the hiring committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an unbiased assessor.

The assessor makes a non-prioritized assessment of the academic qualifications and experience with respect to the above-mentioned area of research, techniques, skills and other requirements listed in the advertisement. Once the assessment work has been completed each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself.

You can read about the recruitment process at

The applicant will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 242 of 13 March 2012 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities.

The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the diversity of society and welcome applications from all qualified candidates regardless of personal background


Københavns Universitet giver sine knap 10.000 medarbejdere muligheder for at udnytte deres talent fuldt ud i et ambitiøst, uformelt miljø. Vi sikrer traditionsrige og moderne rammer om uddannelser og fri forskning på højt internationalt niveau. Vi søger svar og løsninger på fælles problemer og gør ny viden tilgængelig og nyttig for andre.


Thomas Michael Frimurer


Ansøgningsfrist: 22-09-2019
Ansættelsesdato: 15-10-2019
Arbejdstid: Fuldtid
Afdeling/Sted: Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Basic Metabolic Research

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