Come work with us on FoxP!

on Wednesday, December 19th, 2018 2:52 | by Björn Brembs

We are looking for a PhD student for behavioral experiments with Drosophila fruit flies with manipulated FoxP function.

The human orthologues of the fly FoxP gene are the FOXP1-4 genes. Mutations in the FOXP2 gene cause verbal dyspraxia, a form of articulation impairment. Humans learn to articulate phonemes and words by a form of motor learning we can model in flies. Supporting the conceptual analogy of motor learning in humans and flies, manipulations of the fly FoxP gene also lead to impairments in motor learning.

FoxP isoform B expression pattern in the adult brain (green). Counterstaining: Bruchpilot (red)

In the past year, graduate student Ottavia Palazzo used CRISPR/Cas9 to edit the FoxP gene locus, tagging the gene with reporters. These reporters allow us to manipulate not only the gene, but also the neurons which express FoxP. The candidate will work closely with Ottavia to design behavioral experiments characterizing the various manipulations of the different neuronal populations for their involvement in the form of motor learning we use, operant self-learning at the torque meter:

The position is fully funded by a grant from the German funding agency DFG, with full healthcare, unemployment, etc. benefits. It includes admission and tuition to the “Regensburg International Graduate School of Life Sciences“. Starting date is as soon as convenient.

The successful candidate will have a Master’s degree or equivalent. They will be proficient in English as our group is composed of international members. The ideal candidate will have some training in behavioral experiments in Drosophila or other animals, some coding experience and an inclination towards electronics. However, all of these skills can also be learned during the project.

We are a small, international  group consisting of a PI (Björn Brembs), a postdoc (Anders Eriksson), one more graduate student besides Ottavia (Christian Rohrsen) and a technician. We are an open science laboratory and so one aspect of the project will involve a new open science initiative in our laboratory, where we have developed a simple method to make our behavioral data openly accessible automatically, i.e., without any additional efforts by the experimenter. This entails at least two advantages for the candidate in addition to doing science right: the data are automatically backed up and there is no need for a data management plan.

Regensburg is a university town in Bavaria, Germany with about 120k inhabitants and a vibrant student life, due to the 20k students enrolled here. The University of Regensburg is an equal opportunity employer.

Interested candidates should contact Björn Brembs with a CV and a brief letter of motivation.

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Category: Foxp, Lab, open science, Operant learning, operant self-learning

2 responses to “Come work with us on FoxP!”

  1. Nicole Muszynski says:

    I just recentally finished my PhD in comparative psychology studying honeybee learning. I was curious as to whether this position is reserved only for students or whether it was also open for postdocs?

    • It is theoretically possible to hire a postdoc on this position, I think, but the salary would be 50% of that of a postdoc – or 1.5 years instead of three, but I’d need to inquire if this is actually a viable option. Another solution would be to get a small stipend to supplement the 50% salary.

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