Job:Novo Nordisk Foundation PhD scholarship in the Evolution of Genetic Heterogeneity during Fermentation Process Scale-up
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Biomanufacturing is one of the fastest growing fields and a driver for the transition from a fossil-based to a circular bio-based economy and a sustainable future. If you would like to become an expert in this strategically important interdisciplinary field and contribute to the green transition, we have an opportunity for you:

Did you knew, that genetic heterogeneity plays a significant role in the biomanufacturing industry? The effect of lacking or varying genetic homogeneity in cell-populations can make a difference to the outcome of the desired product, whether it is an intra- or extracellular metabolite, expressed protein or enzyme or even the cellular biomass itself. Therefore, the DTU Biosustain at the Technical University of Denmark offers a position as a PhD student in the evolution of genetic heterogeneity during fermentation process scale-up.

The core mission of the project

This project aims to explore the genetic heterogeneity of E. coli Nissle which produces therapeutic peptides throughout various stages, conditions, regimes and scales across two different pilot infrastructures at DTU. E.coli Nissle will be used as a model protein-expression platform organism; however, it also has relevance as a microbial cell therapy. This position will be hosted by DTU Biosustain in the Bacterial Synthetic Biology group working with synthetic biology and microbial evolution led by Professor Morten Sommer.

This PhD project is part of the PhD Program of the Fermentation Based Biomanufacturing (FBM) Initiative at DTU where we educate true biomanufacturing experts with interdisciplinary competences in cell factory-engineering and process engineering with a strong focus on industrial applications.

Working with others

The FBM Initiative is funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation, and under this initiative, scientists from DTU Chemical Engineering, DTU Bioengineering, and the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability (DTU Biosustain) work together to engineer new or optimized production hosts or processes and solve the interdisciplinary challenges of large-scale bioproduction. The FBM Initiative’s research infrastructure includes a well-equipped fermentation core with an automation and high-throughput micro-fermentation unit, a pre-pilot plant and a pilot plant.

Located in the Copenhagen area, one of the world's strongest biotech hubs, DTU’s FBM Initiative offers a unique and internationally leading education and research environment with exceptional conditions for biotech career starters.

This is one of six PhD student positions available on the FBM PhD program this year.

The expected starting date is 1 October 2021.

Responsibilities and qualifications

The project is focused on elucidation of genetic heterogeneities within a fermentation population during scale-up. As such a student will be exposed to both fermentation process scale-up as well as molecular biology. Using deep sequencing the student will examine the genetic heterogeneity that evolves during seed trains and process scale-up in reactors of varying sizes in the DTU Biosustain and DTU Chemical Engineering pre-pilot and pilot plants. In addition to mapping the evolutionary processes that limit successful scale up the student will also implement strategies to limit heterogeneity from expanding through the use of synthetic biology techniques.

This research field is a unique interdisciplinary task, between synthetic biology understanding and fermentation and cultivation knowledge and operations.

The candidate shall work independently on the development of high impact research projects. Accordingly, a significant workload is expected in order to advance projects successfully.

The candidate shall deploy or develop state-of-the-art experimental and computational technologies to study fermentation heterogeneity.

The candidate will work in a team to develop their independent project, while also contributing to projects of other team members.

The candidate will be responsible for the execution of all aspects of the project including both experimental and computational tasks (support is available for all aspects from fellow lab members).

You must have a two-year master's degree (120 ECTS points) or a similar degree with an academic level equivalent to a two-year master's degree.

Approval and Enrolment

The scholarships for the PhD degree are subject to academic approval, and the candidates will be enrolled in one of the general degree programmes at DTU. For information about our enrolment requirements and the general planning of the PhD study programme, please see the DTU PhD Guide.


Overall the preferred applicant has an excellent academic track record, solid research experience and is highly motivated towards developing new technology and making scientific breakthroughs.

The applicant should:

  • have a proven track record within the fields of microbiology or chemical engineering
  • have demonstrated early in his/her career a capacity for innovation and excellence
  • make this position his/her number one priority
  • have a strong work ethics
  • be a team player

The preferred applicants have experience working with synthetic biology and/or the microbiology and bring hands-on experience with instrumented fermentation platforms and operations.

We offer

DTU is a leading technical university globally recognized for the excellence of its research, education, innovation and scientific advice. We offer a rewarding and challenging job in an international environment. We strive for academic excellence in an environment characterized by collegial respect and academic freedom tempered by responsibility.

Salary and appointment terms

The appointment will be based on the collective agreement with the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. The allowance will be agreed upon with the relevant union. The period of employment is 3 years.

You can read more about career paths at DTU here.

Further information

Further information may be obtained from Morten Sommer (

You can read more about “the Department” at

If you are applying from abroad, you may find useful information on working in Denmark and at DTU at DTU – Moving to Denmark.

Application procedure

Your complete online application must be submitted no later than 15 August 2021 (Danish time).

Apply online at

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please open the link "Apply online", fill out the online application form, and attach all your materials in English in one PDF file. The file must include:

  • A letter motivating the application (cover letter)
  • Curriculum vitae
  • Grade transcripts and BSc/MSc diploma
  • Excel sheet with translation of grades to the Danish grading system (see guidelines and Excel spreadsheet here – in the right hand column)

In the field “Please indicate which position(s) you would like to apply for”, please indicate which project you are applying for (title from the above list of PhD projects or individual research projects).

Incomplete applications will not be considered. You may apply prior to obtaining your master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

All interested candidates irrespective of age, gender, disability, race, religion or ethnic background are encouraged to apply.

The Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Biosustainability (DTU Biosustain)

Recent progress in our ability to read and write genomic code, combined with advances in automation, analytics and data science, has fundamentally changed the scope and ambition of harnessing the potential of biological systems. Big data approaches and analysis of biological systems are key research instruments at the Center. DTU Biosustain utilizes these advances for microbial cell factory design to foster sustainable lifestyles in relation to three application areas: Sustainable Chemicals, Natural Products, and Microbial Foods. Learn more at []6

Technology for people

DTU develops technology for people. With our international elite research and study programmes, we are helping to create a better world and to solve the global challenges formulated in the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Hans Christian Ørsted founded DTU in 1829 with a clear vision to develop and create value using science and engineering to benefit society. That vision lives on today. DTU has 12,900 students and 6,000 employees. We work in an international atmosphere and have an inclusive, evolving, and informal working environment. DTU has campuses in all parts of Denmark and in Greenland, and we collaborate with the best universities around the world.

chemical microbiology Fermentation engineering • 269 views

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