ESR 5: PhD scholarship in food allergy and in vitro lysosomal degradation

ESR 5: PhD scholarship in food allergy and in vitro lysosomal degradation

Host organisation: Department of Biosciences and Medical Biology, Paris Lodron University Salzburg, Salzburg, Austria

Area/topic: Food Allergy, allergenicity models, prediction toolbox, novel food safety, allergy sensitisation, routes of sensitization, molecular biology, mass spectrometry

Application deadline: 28 November 2022

Planned start date:  March/April 2023

Do you want to contribute to the development of new tools for the prediction of allergenicity of novel foods and food proteins and enable the production of new and safe food for the future?

If you have knowledge within the area of allergy, immunology, biostatistics, and/or protein-chemistry as well as have experience working with in silico, in vitro or in vivo models and are looking for a PhD fellowship opportunity to put your skills into practice, you have it right here.

As part of the ALLPreT project and as our new colleague in Paris Lodron University Salzburg, you will be part of dynamic and highly ambitious research and innovation environments with many national and international collaborators from both academia and industries.

Project Description

The objectives of this PhD project contribute to the overarching target of advancing the allergenicity toolbox through identification of intrinsic properties of allergenic and non-allergenic proteins and measurement of the effect of food matrix and gastrointestinal digestion parameters on allergenic features of (novel) foods. Upon analysis of proteases from antigen presenting cells including highly relevant epithelial cells, we will develop a standardized endolysosomal degradation assay using mass spectrometry and ELISA to predict immunogenicity and allergenicity of proteins. Using reporter cell lines, T cell polarization potency will be determined and aligned with computational proteolytic results that will allow discrimination of food allergens from non-allergenic proteins.

Responsibilities and tasks

For this project, we seek a highly motivated biomedical/molecular biology scientist or equivalent background to develop a novel endolysosomal protease digestion assay using a reference set of extracts and proteins for allergenicity prediction. The PhD candidate will determine activity and specificity of endolysosomal proteases from different antigen presenting cells, develop a novel standardized endolysosomal degradation assay using LC-MS and ELISA, investigate the influence of simulated gastro-intestinal digestion, determine T cell peptides and perform cell culture assays to determine T cell polarization (4Get reporter mouse line).

We offer

  • A position part of an innovative and international EU funded Marie Skłodowska-Curie Doctoral-Network (project ALLPreT - No 101072377)
  • The position is for a period of 3 years. The goal is to complete the project with a PhD degree.
  • 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 position in an EU country (Austria) including two lab research stays (secondments):
  • Secondment 1: Host Indoor Biotechnologies, United Kingdom for 1 month to learn protein detection assays using immunoassays, including ELISA in an ISO 17025 compliant research laboratory
  • Secondment 2: Host University Medical Centre Utrecht, The Netherlands for 3 months to learn different T cell activation assays.


We are looking for a team player with the motivation and drive needed for making a difference that matters. You should have a critical mindset, be curious and eager to learn. As you will join international teams, a good command of written and spoken English is necessary.

Your CV comprises a Master’s degree (or equivalent) in Biomedical sciences, biochemistry, molecular biology or a related field as well as preferably experience with:

  • proteolytic assays, cell culturing, LC-MS, ELISA, data analysis and statistics

According to the rules for MSCA doctoral networks, applicants should not have resided or worked in Austria for more than 12 out of the last 36 months.

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.

Terms of Employment: 3-year fixed-term contract, PhD position. Your gross salary will be in line with the collective labor agreement of the PLUS, which will approximately include a gross monthly salary of € 3150. Compensation package will comply with the MSCA-ITN programme regulations for early stage researchers. Check the website for more information about working at the Paris Lodron University.

Information on the host organization/department:

Paris Lodron University Salzburg is the largest educational institute in Salzburg with 18,000 students and 2,800 employees. The Department of Biosciences and Medical Biology focuses on Biological Mechanisms of Human Health and Disease and the Structure Function and Regulation of Biomolecules. High quality basic and translational research is performed in the Allergy Cancer BioNano Research Centre and within the doctoral school Biomolecules. The Department works in close collaboration with the Medical Universities in Salzburg.

Application procedure uitklapper, klik om te openen

Candidates can apply for a position using the 'apply now' button

Your complete online application must be submitted no later than 28 November, 2022.

Applications must be submitted as one PDF file containing all materials to be given consideration. To apply, please use the apply now button, 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

You may apply before obtai­ning your master's degree but cannot begin before having received it.

Applications received after the deadline will not be considered.

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

Please note, candidates can apply to max two ESR positions.

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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