Position: PhD Student Position: The Role of an Epstein-Barr Virus Infection in the Development of Multiple Sclerosis

Department: Pathogenesis of Virus Associated Tumors

Code number: 2024-0173

The German Cancer Research Center is the largest biomedical research institution in Germany. With more than 3,000 employees, we operate an extensive scientific program in the field of cancer research.

The research group of Prof. Dr. Henri-Jacques Delecluse (Division of Pathogenesis of Virus Associated Tumors) is looking for a creative and highly skilled PhD student with a strong interest in biomedical research to study the role of the Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) in the development of multiple sclerosis.

The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) causes multiple types of malignant tumors in humans. However, a recent large epidemiological study has demonstrated that EBV infection also constitutes the strongest single risk factor to date for the development of multiple sclerosis (MS) (Bjornevik et al., Science, 2022). MS is the most frequent demyelinating disease, mainly affects young adults and leads to progressive neurodegeneration and disability. How EBV is involved in the pathogenesis of MS, remains disputed.

Our research group coordinates a joint international research effort, the BEHIND-MS consortium, that is funded by HORIZON Europe and consists of ten multidisciplinary research groups from various EU countries. PhD candidates will benefit from interactions with the vibrant research community involved in the BEHIND-MS consortium and at the DKFZ. The DKFZ has state-of-the-art core facilities in all areas of biology, including genomics, proteomics, imaging and immunology.


Job description:

The project will involve characterization of interactions between the virus, the immune system and the central nervous system. Methodological approaches include manipulation of infected cells, reprogrammed neural cells, and the immune system, particularly T cells specific for viral antigens. Our group collaborates with the research group “Chronically Progressive Neurodegenerative Diseases" (PI: Marc Thier) at the DKFZ that will reprogram immune cells into neural progenitors and derive neural cultures and organoids.


  • Master’s degree in biology, medicine, biochemistry or related disciplines
  • Previous experience in common molecular and cellular biology techniques, competence in neurobiology and bioinformatics is an asset
  • Excellent command of written and oral English, with a proof of language proficiency (IELTS >6.5 or TOEFL>90)
  • Ability to work independently and as part of a team

Applications should include contact details of two referees.

We offer:

  • Excellent framework conditions: state-of-the-art equipment and opportunities for international networking at the highest level
  • Access to international research networks
  • Doctoral salary with the usual social benefits
  • 30 days of vacation per year
  • Flexible working hours
  • Possibility of part-time work
  • Family-friendly working environment, e.g. parent-child room, advisory services
  • Sustainable travel to work: subsidized Germany job ticket
  • Unleash your full potential: targeted training and mentoring through the DKFZ International PhD Program and DKFZ Career Service
  • Our Corporate Health Management Program offers a holistic range of services for your well-being

Important notice:

The DKFZ is subject to the regulations of the Infection Protection Act (IfSG). As a consequence, only persons who present proof of immunity against measles may work at the DKFZ.

Earliest Possible Start Date: as soon as possible

Duration: The position is initially limited to 3 years.

Application Deadline: 28.06.2024


Prof. Dr. Henri-Jacques Delecluse
Phone +49 (0)6221/42-4870

Please note that we do not accept applications submitted via email.

The DKFZ is committed to increase the proportion of women in all areas and positions in which women are underrepresented. Qualified female applicants are therefore particularly encouraged to apply.

Among candidates of equal aptitude and qualifications, a person with disabilities will be given preference. 

To apply for a position please use our online application portal (https://www.dkfz.de/en/stellenangebote/index.php).

We ask for your understanding that we cannot return application documents that are sent to us by post (Deutsches Krebsforschungszentrum, Personalabteilung, Im Neuenheimer Feld 280, 69120 Heidelberg) and that we do not accept applications submitted via email. We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.