Ph.D scholarschip on food allergy and allergenic determinants on allergenic potency

ESR 3: Ph.D scholarschip on food allergy and allergenic determinants on allergenic potency

Host organisation: Allergology/Paul-Ehrlich-Institut (PEI)

Area/topic: Food allergy, novel food safety, food allergens, allergenic epitopes, allergenic potency assays

Application deadline: 28 November 2022

Planned start date: March 2023

You can also find this vacancy on

Project Description ESR3:

Many factors appear to govern the allergic response to food proteins including their intrinsic biochemical/immunological properties such as allergenic determinants (IgE epitopes). The objectives of ESR 3 add to the scientific understanding of the contribution of linear versus conformational determinants, as well as impact of affinity, on the functional allergenic potency of homologous weak/strong allergenic legume proteins at the side of elicitation.  

Responsibilities and tasks

For this project, we seek a highly motivated life scientist/immunologist or equivalent background to explore the distribution and impact of linear versus conformational IgE epitopes on homologous legume proteins of low versus high allergenicity. The ESR will apply own peptide microarrays, including peptide synthesis, for the (chemiluminecent/fluorescent) immunochemical identification of linear IgE epitopes. The relevance of these allergenic determinants will be verified against total protein extracts and (FPLC) purified natural or recombinant allergens of various legumes in IgE binding assays (ELISA, Western blot, SPR) and functional (RBL cell) mediator release. Allergen preparations will be provided to all ESR projects and the immunochemical, functional and physicochemical properties characterized.

We offer

  • A position part of an innovative and international EU funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie Doctoral-Network (projectALLPreT - No 101072377)
  • Full access to the training scheme offered within the ALLPreT project including the development of technical and soft skills (e.g., networking, organization of meetings, grant writing, work/private balance and presenting for different audiences).
  • A 36 months position in an EU country (Germany), hosted at PEI, including two secondments:
  • at Luxemburg Institute of Health at M12, for 3 months to learn analyses of allergen-induced immune cell responses using single-cell mass cytometry.
  • at Inbio at M16, for 1 month to learn multiplex IgE-test on common allergens/legume panel with patient sera and experience working in a company environment.


We are looking for a candidate who meets the following requirements:

  • Master degree or state examination or equivalent (graduation before project start date) in a life sciences subject (biological or biochemical sciences, immunology or similar);
  • Preferably experience with basic cell culturing, molecular biology, biochemistry and immunochemistry techniques; protein liquid chromatography; you work with human and animal serum samples;
  • Good level of spoken and written English language skills;
  • Independent and creative team player, willing to assist colleagues in their research;
  • you are critical, eager to learn and curious and you have good communication skills;

Terms of Employment: The successful candidate will receive a 36-month, full-time employment contract as per Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions (MSCA) regulations for early stage researchers (ESR). The goal is a promotion (PhD). The monthly salary will be confirmed upon offer, paid in the currency of the host country, and with a correction factor applied to the host country. Check the website for more information about working at the PEI (

Information on the host organization/department:

The Paul-Ehrlich-Institut (PEI) is the German Federal Institute for Vaccines and Biomedicines. It is responsible for marketing authorisation and batch control of biomedicines including therapeutic and in vivo diagnostic allergens. The PEI's own experimental research in the field of life sciences is internationally well recognised and forms an indispensable basis for the fulfilment of these duties. The Division of Allergology has been performing food allergen research for more than 25 years.

Application procedure uitklapper, klik om te openen

Questions about this position should be addressed to PD Dr. Thomas Holzhauser (email:

PLEASE NOTE, Your application for the ESR 3 position should be send to both and submitted through the online application form by using the ‘Apply Now’ button.  

When applying, please use the following email subject title: ALLPReT ESR3 - Your Name

You can also find this vacancy on  (

In your application should include the following files:

  • A motivation letter (1 page maximum), please include in your letter alternative ESR positions of interest to you if not selected, if any.
  • A CV according to the Europass format
  • Two reference letters (at least one from your Master thesis supervisor)
  • An up-to-date record of grades in your bachelor and master programs
  • Optional: English proficiency test results (TOEFL, IELTS)
  • The application deadline is 28 November, 2022

Please be aware that disabled candidates will be given preference if their skills and qualifications are equivalent to those of non-disabled candidates. The Paul-Ehrlich-Institut encourages gender equality and life-work balance especially in respect to the family.

Please note that the German Federal Ministry of Health will in some cases (if required) be authorised to inspect your application documents (Section 6 (1), No. C, General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in connection with Section 2 (1) Gemeinsame Geschäftsordnung der Bundesministerien (joint rules of procedure of the federal ministries), and Article 65 of the German Constitution (Grundgesetz, Fundmental Law) to ensure a staff selection which fulfils its purpose and is in the interest of all parties involved. Your data will be erased immediately after the application procedure has been completed.

Information on the ALLPreT project

Introducing novel foods, such as insects, will strongly contribute to the security and stainability of our food supply. However, these novel foods must be safe (EU regulation 2015/2283). Allergenicity assessment is an essential part of the safety assessment of novel foods. Unfortunately, current methods to assess de novo allergenicity lack predictive power and are not validated. Consequently, food producers and risk assessors struggle with allergenicity assessment, slowing the introduction of novel foods into our food supply. Enabling the safe introduction of novel foods while protecting humans from unacceptable food allergy risks calls for a multidisciplinary approach. The ALLPreT consortium is a highly multidisciplinary group of experts from universities, research institutes, hospitals, patient organisations, and industry arising from the EU COST Action ImpARAS (Improved Allergenicity Risk Assessment Strategy). This puts them in an ideal position to consolidate their previous collaboration and establish an innovative doctoral training network in this area. The overall goal of ALLPreT is to train the next generation of scientists who can tackle the shortcomings in the current food allergy assessment of novel food products. ALLPreT will train 10 PhD students in the core aspects of food allergy risk assessment, immunology, protein chemistry, bioinformatics, in vitro/in vivo/in silico model development and complementary “soft” skills to deliver well-educated young scientists, with a unique position within the EU labour market. The PhD students will explore the new field of research on de novo sensitisation by novel foods and develop a toolbox of in vitro/in vivo/in silico allergenicity prediction tools that are scientifically sound, validated, and easily usable by industry and food safety authorities. This toolbox will contribute to fast and accurate safety assessment, thereby speeding up safety approval and market uptake of novel foods. Read more at

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