The Laboratory for Systems Neuroscience, Department of Health Science & Technology at ETH Zurich, is recruiting for its team per February 2018, or by mutual agreement a
Post-doctoral Fellow in Neuronal microRNA Research
The main task of the candidate will be to elucidate the role of neuronal microRNAs in the formation and plasticity of neuronal circuits and how this translates into alterations in higher cognitive functions and emotional processing using molecular, cell biological, electrophysiological and behavioural assays. The candidate will use both in vivo animal models (genetically modified mice, intracerebral virus injection) and in vitro cultured primary neurons with manipulated microRNA activity. The main focus of the lab is the regulation of neuronal development and function by non-coding RNA-dependent mechanisms. During the development of neural circuits, activity-dependent gene expression programs orchestrate the correct formation, pruning and plasticity of synapses, which in turn is critical for neuronal network homeostasis and the ability to adapt to changes in the environment. Consequently, alterations in these programs lead to neurodevelopmental disorders, such as autism and schizophrenia. Post-transcriptional control of gene expression by non-coding RNAs, in particular microRNAs, has recently emerged as an important mechanism governing synapse development and plasticity (Schratt, Nature Rev. Neurosci. 2009). Interestingly, specific microRNAs are enriched in neuronal dendrites, where they regulate the local translation of important synaptic proteins in response to extracellular stimulation (Schratt et al., Nature 2006; Siegel et al., Nat. Cell Biol. 2009; Valluy et al., Nat. Neurosci 2015). Nevertheless, the physiological role of microRNAs in neural circuit development and animal behaviour in the intact organism is largely unexplored. The study of mouse models with altered microRNA function in specific brain circuits will allow us to determine the physiological role of this pathway in brain areas associated with specific behaviours as well as the underlying molecular mechanisms.
Successful candidates will work under the direct supervision of Prof. Gerhard Schratt. We are looking for outstanding and highly motivated candidates who hold a PhD degree in a relevant discipline and have strong experience in at least one of the following technologies to complement our core expertises in RNA biochemistry and neuronal cell biology: i) mouse behavioral assays in combination with intracerebral virus delivery and/or optogenetics; ii) electrophysiological recordings (patch-clamp, field recordings) and calcium imaging in brain slices and isolated neurons; iii) high throughput genomics and/or proteomics technologies in combination with bioinformatics analysis. He or she needs an outstanding publication record in peer-reviewed international journals as well as presenting results in conferences. The candidate should have the ability and self-motivation to work both independently and as a team player. German language skills are not required, English is mandatory.