Simula Research Laboratory AS is a publicly owned company located outside Oslo, Norway. It is a multi-cultural organization, employing about 150 individuals from more than 30 countries. Simula is conducting ICT research in the fields of communication technology, scientific computing and software engineering. Simula's main objective is to generate new understanding and create vital knowledge about fundamental scientific challenges that are of genuine value for society. This is achieved through high quality research, education of graduate students, industry collaboration, technology transfer and commercialisation.
PhD fellowship: The Role of SK Channels in Healthy and Fibrillating Atria
Atrial fibrillation (AF) is the most common sustained cardiac arrhythmia, occurring in 1-2% of the general population. More than 6 million Europeans suffer from this arrhythmia and its prevalence is expected to increase by more than two-fold during the next 40 years due to increased life expectancy. Thus, AF is said to assume epidemic proportions. Current options for pharmacological therapy are limited by both low efficacy and side effects, including life-threatening ventricular arrhythmias and severe extra-cardiac toxicities.
A very limited number of novel AF drug therapies have been introduced in the last 20 years. This imbalance reflects a gap in understanding in both how AF develops and how it can be treated, which thereby limits the development of new medicines. Our ambition in this project is to further develop computational models recapitulating human AF, including a very promising atrial biological target: the small-conductance calcium-activated potassium (SK) channel.
The overall aim of the project is to elucidate the contribution of SK channels to human atrial electrophysiology and intracellular calcium dynamics through exploitation of state-of-the-art simulations. By using this novel SK current in silico platform, the effectiveness of SK channels as drug targets for treatment of AF will be addressed.
This will be accomplished by incorporation of data from SK channel investigations and following blockade of SK channels at various degrees of atrial remodeling (in vitro experiments will be performed at partner sites) to update our existing in silico models of healthy/sinus rhythm and AF cells.
Furthermore, the project will center around biophysically-based formulations of the K+ current carried by SK channels as based on data acquired from human cells. In addition, more detailed computational analyses on drug binding to SK channels will be carried out, to model this interaction accurately and efficiently in a multicellular model of AF.
Core competencies to be gained include knowledge of cardiac physiology, electrophysiology and electromechanics, in silico modeling at subcellular, cellular, and tissue/organ levels, as well as some pharmacological modeling, evaluation and incorporation of biophysical data sources.
Additional secondment training in SK channel biology and biophysics as well as basic laboratory safety and techniques will be conducted in collaboration with Acesion Pharma (3 months, Copenhagen, Denmark). In-depth training in select topics in clinical data acquisition and processing and simulation technique will take place at the Center for Computational Medicine in Cardiology (6 months, Lugano, Switzerland).
General job description
Your key tasks as a PhD fellow at Simula are to:
- Manage and carry out your research project in Norway, Denmark, and Switzerland
- Take assigned PhD courses
- Write scientific articles and your PhD thesis
- Participate in national and international congresses and scientific meetings
- Disseminate your research in appropriate venues
- Participate in the co-mentoring of doctoral colleagues and Master-s students
This PhD scholarship is an integrated part of AFib-TrainNet (http://afib.ku.dk/). This doctoral training network consists of top European institutions and highly specialized biotech companies with the complementary competences needed to produce both outstanding research results and an excellent training environment for early stage researchers (ESRs). In the Network, 15 ESRs from the partner institutions will enroll simultaneously, and together benefit from an extensive web of training events. AFib-TrainNet also features a number of longer secondment periods to partners within the Network. This coordinated research exchange reflects our focus on top-level interdisciplinary science, and ensures that ESRs have the opportunity to forge strong relationships cross-network and reap the benefits of the world-class, highly interdisciplinary team of collaborating partners.
AFib-TrainNet is funded from the Marie Sk-odowska-Curie Actions as a European Training Network (ETN).
The duration of doctoral fellowships will be 3 years, starting March 1st 2016. All Simula AFib-TrainNet PhD fellows (ESRs) will be enrolled as PhD students at the University of Oslo Mathematics and Natural Sciences Faculty.
As a AFib-TrainNet ESR at Simula, you will work closely with your primary supervisors in Oslo, in Lugano, and in Copenhagen, and undertake coursework and training related to computational biology and medicine. Teamwork is an important feature of the Simula working environment, and all fellows will be expected to conduct themselves in an engaged and participatory way with their peers and colleagues at Simula. As indicated above, an additional unique feature of the AFib-TrainNet is that ESRs will be required to complete a number of secondments to partnering facilities in order to obtain in-depth training and strengthen research ties. As such, all applicants should be prepared and eager to spend a portion of their degree residing abroad.
The breadth of the AFib-TrainNet scope allows students of many training backgrounds to be excellent candidates for these fellowships. However, because the project is computational in nature, it is strongly recommended that applicants have a working background in programming and the mathematical/quantitative sciences.
Beyond these general recommendations, the following requirements apply:
- Completion of Masters in an appropriate field for the project (examples may be biomedical engineering, biophysics, or computer science
- Suitable academic performance in Masters and undergraduate coursework (academic records are required).
- Strong quantitative and analytical skills are an advantage
- Experience in developing software or analysis tools for biological or medical applications is an advantage
- Good knowledge of the scientific field addressed by the project/s of interest is desirable
- Good communication and interpersonal skills are necessary
- Fluent level of English (written and oral) is required
The position is available for a 3-year period for applicants holding a relevant Master-s degree. As the PhD scholarship is a part of a Marie Sk-odowska-Curie Actions European Training Network, the candidate must only have stayed in Norway for 12 months total during the last 36 months.
- An engaging and interactive working environment with highly competent and motivated researchers
- High-standard facilities and offices located on the Oslo fjord, only a 10 minute ferry ride or drive from downtown Oslo
- A competitive salary and benefits
Applications in English must include:
- Cover letter, stating the PhD project you are applying for and detailing your motivation and background for applying for the specific PhD project
- Curriculum Vitae, listing contact information, education, prior research experience and specific research project involvement, and any publication of conference contributions or scientific papers
- Diploma(s) and detailed transcription of records
- Personal recommendations, and contact information (name, current position, relation to the candidate, phone and email) for up to 3 academic and research-oriented referees.
- A maximum of three relevant scientific works which the applicant wishes to have included.
- For non-native English speakers, proof of competency with English is optional but recommended. Standardized test results or completion of a University degree in an English-speaking country is suitable.
The above documents should be combined into a single PDF document in the order listed above, and submitted via the link at the right side of the page - applications submitted by email will not be considered.
Key criteria for the assessment of candidates:
- The grade point average achieved
- Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD program
- Previous publications
- Relevant work experience
- Other professional activities
- Language skills
- The successful candidate will also be enterprising and possess good interpersonal skills
All interested in this post are encouraged to apply. Simula seeks to maintain strong representation of international and female researchers, which makes for a dynamic and well-balanced environment. Women are particularly encouraged to apply.
The annual salary is EUR 49 225, and additional compensation for family and mobility will be provided in agreement with the MSCA ETN regulations.
Deadline for applications: December 1st, 2015.
Employer: Simula School of Research and Innovation
Dr. Molly Maleckar, PhD
Simula Research Laboratory, P.O. Box 134, 1325, Lysaker, Norway
Prof Morten Grunnet