PhD opening for in-vitro models of the placental barrier to study human Brucella infection and antibiotic treatment

100%, Basel, fixed-term

We are seeking a highly motivated and enthusiastic PhD student, who will join the Bio Engineering Laboratory ( in the Department of Biosystems Science and Engineering of ETH Zurich in Basel, Switzerland.

Project background

The project will be a close collaboration with the groups of C. Dehio at the Biozentrum of the University of Basel, J. Moran-Gilad at the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, and the Particles@Barriers group of T. Bürki at EMPA.

Job description

Within the framework of a collaborative project within the National Competence Center of Research (NCCR) “Antiresist” (, the student will develop a microphysiological model of the placental barrier to study Brucella infection and antibiotic treatment at the maternal-fetal interface. The placental-barrier model will be included in a dedicated microfluidic platform to emulate brucellosis under physiologically relevant conditions and to reproduce the highly dynamic microenvironment of the placental interstitial space. The infection process and drug action will be continuously monitored at high resolution using high resolution live microscopy. Mechanisms of bacterial infections and host-pathogen interactions will be studied at molecular and cellular levels, and novel therapeutic approaches will be developed to combat brucellosis.

The position is planned for 4 years (PhD).

Your profile

For this highly interdisciplinary and collaborative project, a suitable candidate should have a solid background in biology and tissue engineering with experience in microphysiological systems and microfluidics (basics of microfabrication). Previous experience in mammalian cell culture, optical microscopy, and in vitro bioassays is expected. Further, knowledge of infection biology and experience with bacterial cultures are beneficial. Being successful in interdisciplinary work in the fields of tissue engineering/microbiology/microtechnology requires good communication skills and a proactive work attitude. The candidate must be able to fluently communicate in English (oral and written) and be willing to work in a highly interactive and collaborative international environment.

Your workplace

We offer

ETH Zurich is a family-friendly employer with excellent working conditions. You can look forward to an exciting working environment, cultural diversity and attractive offers and benefits.

Working, teaching and research at ETH Zurich

We value diversity

In line with our values, ETH Zurich encourages an inclusive culture. We promote equality of opportunity, value diversity and nurture a working and learning environment in which the rights and dignity of all our staff and students are respected. Visit our Equal Opportunities and Diversity website to find out how we ensure a fair and open environment that allows everyone to grow and flourish.

Curious? So are we.

A complete application package includes:

  • CV
  • short and specific motivation statement for this position (1/2 page)
  • full transcripts
  • at least two reference letters (or contact details of referees)

Please note that we exclusively accept applications submitted through our online application portal. Incomplete application packages and applications via e-mail or postal services will not be considered.

Further information about the Bio Engineering Laboratory can be found on our website. For more information on the position, please contact - exclusively via e-mail: (no e-mail applications).

The application deadline is May 31st, 2022.

About ETH Zürich

ETH Zurich is one of the world’s leading universities specialising in science and technology. We are renowned for our excellent education, cutting-edge fundamental research and direct transfer of new knowledge into society. Over 30,000 people from more than 120 countries find our university to be a place that promotes independent thinking and an environment that inspires excellence. Located in the heart of Europe, yet forging connections all over the world, we work together to develop solutions for the global challenges of today and tomorrow.