Archived: PhD position in “Modeling and Simulation of Chemical Senses”, FZ Juelich

Institute: Institute of Computational Biomedicine (IAS-5/INM-9), Forschungszentrum Jülich, Germany.

Topic: Modeling and Simulation of Chemical Senses

PI: Jr.-Prof. Mercedes Alfonso-Prieto


Aim and Scope: 

Mammals have developed mechanisms to communicate chemical information from the environment inside the cell and provide an evolutionary advantage in avoiding or seeking the chemical signatures of foods, mates, toxins. In humans, chemosensation is mediated by two different sensory systems: the olfactory and the taste systems. They are involved in the perception of the aroma and flavor of food and beverages and they act as a warning system against toxic substances. In addition, chemosensory receptors are found in many different tissues, besides the tongue and the nose. These include the respiratory system, the gastrointestinal tract, the endocrine system, and the brain. Hence, these receptors play different roles other than chemical senses. However, the lack of experimental structural information on these receptors is completely lacking, thus hampering a complete characterization of the molecular mechanisms underlying chemosensation. Molecular modeling and simulations can fill this gap by providing important hints on the structural determinants of odorant and tastant recognition, as well as on the endogenous compounds detected by chemosensory receptors outside the nose and the tongue,

The computational research will be mainly carried out at the Forschungszentrum Jülich, which is one of the largest research centers in Germany, with excellent scientific equipment and leading European computational resources, located on a green campus, and near the cultural centers Köln, Düsseldorf, and Aachen.

The suitable candidate for this position is an outstanding, motivated young scientist, who holds a master in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Bioinformatics, Physics or related disciplines. Excellent knowledge of the English language (both written and oral) is required. Familiarity with the Unix operating, as well as with basic tools from molecular modeling and simulation, is a plus.

We offer a Ph.D position in a creative and international environment with the opportunity to work in a unique interdisciplinary team. Payment of the Ph.D fellow will be based on salary grade EG 13 (50%) Collective Agreement for the Civil Service (TVöD). Forschungszentrum Jülich aims to employ more women in this area and therefore particularly welcomes applications from women. Applications from disabled persons are also welcomed.


Applications should include: (1) a motivation cover letter, (2) a full CV, (3) the transcript of records of the undergraduate and master studies (including grades), and (4) the names of at least two people to be contacted.

They should be sent via email to Jr.-Prof. Mercedes Alfonso-Prieto (

The received documents will be screened by an evaluating committee and, based on the expertise and records, the shortlisted candidates will be invited for an interview, by teleconference if necessary.

For more information, please visit the IAS-5/INM-9 homepage: