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PhD Student (Intestinal cell biomechanics during bacterial infection)

Cluster of Excellence CMFI | now

PhD position (E13 TV-L, 65%) – Intestinal cell biomechanics during bacterial infection

to be filled as soon as possible. The position is initially limited to three years.

The Bastounis lab at the Interfaculty Institute of Microbiology & Infection Medicine/Cluster of Excellence “Controlling Microbes to Fight Infections” (CMFI) at the University of Tübingen is looking to fill one PhD position (E13 TV-L, 65%) as part of a DFG funded project in collaboration with the Constantinou lab at TU Braunschweig. The earliest starting date for this position will be on 01.03.2022. The position is funded for a period of three years. The available position focuses on deciphering host-pathogen interactions using an organotypic stretching device and biomechanical approaches.

Specific research project

During infection with the food-borne intracellular bacterial pathogen L. monocytogenes, large infected domains in epithelial cell monolayers are forced to extrude to form 3D mounds due to the collective and cooperative onslaught triggered by their uninfected neighbors. This mechanical competition between uninfected and bacterially-infected cells is driven by innate immunity signals and appears to limit pathogen dissemination through the epithelium (Bastounis et al 2021). The project seeks to investigate how biochemical and physical cues in concert orchestrate intracellular bacterial dissemination in epithelial cells in monolayer in a multifunctional cell stretching platform, that will allow us to mimic peristalsis-like cellular stretching, similar to what epithelial cells are experiencing in the intestine.

Candidate profile

The ideal candidate preferably brings along a degree that demonstrates an interdisciplinary background in both life and engineering sciences. While a background in host-pathogen interactions,
cell biology, microscopy is a plus, a solid background in basic computer programming (e.g. MATLAB, Python etc.) and/or image processing is also important to carry out the planned studies and analysis. We are looking for a highly motivated candidate with excellent communication and initiative skills, who is excited to conduct interdisciplinary studies and can team up with the various scientists with whom we are collaborating and particularly with the Constantinou lab at TU Braunschweig who will develop the multifunctional cell stretching platform (
We offer work environment that is strongly stimulating with state-of-the-art infrastructure and various facilities (check the IMIT and CMFI websites) which will provide the successful applicant with unique opportunities to develop a strong interdisciplinary portfolio in microbiology, microscopy, cell biology and biomechanics.

For further information about the position, please contact Effie Bastounis by e-mail at, and visit our website

Applications with a short cover/motivation letter, CV/biosketch, diploma(s) and two contacts for references should be sent via email to

The University of Tübingen aims to increase the proportion of women in research and teaching and urges suitably qualified women scientists to apply. Qualified international researchers are expressly invited to apply. Disabled persons with equal aptitude will be given preferential consideration.