Job ID: 102602

PhD project on the role of Locus Coeruleus in modulation of microglia and TSPO upon acute and/or chronic stress

Position: Ph.D. Student

Deadline: 30 April 2023

City: Munich

Country: Germany

Institution: Deutsches Zentrum für Neurodegenerative Erkrankungen e. V. (DZNE)



The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) is a world-leading internationally oriented research center, committed to discovering new approaches to prevent and treat neurodegenerative diseases. To this end, researchers at ten DZNE sites across Germany pursue a translational and interdisciplinary strategy comprising five interconnected areas: fundamental research, clinical research, health care research, population health science, and systems medicine.


PhD project on the role of Locus Coeruleus in modulation of microglia and TSPO upon acute and/or chronic stress – Code 2095/2023/1


Applications are invited for a PhD student (f/m/x) to conduct a project within the newly funded research unit FOR 2858 (Role of translocator protein 18 kDa (TSPO) as a diagnostic and therapeutic target in the nervous system) under the PIs Prof. Dr. Jochen Herms and Dr. Lars Paeger.


The research in our laboratory in Munich is focused on mechanisms of synapse loss in neurodegenerative and neuropsychiatric diseases. The “Translational Brain Research” group and the largest Brain Bank in Germany at the Department of Neuropathology is led by Prof. Jochen Herms (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität).


Your tasks:

The project aims to identify the role of the locus coeruleus, the main source of noradrenalin in the brain, in the modulation of microglia and TSPO and to pinpoint TSPO as a potential target in stress-related disorders. Previously, we have identified TSPO activation in microglia to underlie increased synapse loss and typical cognitive impairment upon prolonged Diazepam treatment (Shi et al., 2022, Nat Neurosci). The successful candidate will be investigating LC activity, microglia and TSPO dependent changes in synaptic plasticity in mouse models of acute and/or chronic stress. To this end, we are searching for a highly motivated researcher with the ability to work independently.

The lab uses state-of-the-art neuroscience techniques such as in vivo two-photon Ca2+ imaging (Blumenstock et al. 2021, Brain Com), neurocircuit manipulation with animal behaviour (opto- and chemogenetics) and acute slice electrophysiology techniques (Jais*, Paeger* et al, 2020, Neuron).



  • Candidates with a Master degree in biological sciences or a PhD (neuroscience, life science, biology) are encouraged to apply.
  • Applicants should be highly motivated with a background in neuroscience and should possess excellent communication skills in English.
  • Experience in either one of the following techniques is a prerequisite: in vivo 2-photon microscopy or in vivo Ca2+ imaging, acute slice electrophysiology, animal behaviour (stress tests/models)
  • Prior research experience in animal experiments and advanced microscopy is advantageous.

We offer:

  • Research in an international and dynamic atmosphere and access to modern laboratory facilities
  • Job location is Munich, Germany
  • You will obtain special skills and knowledge for your scientific qualification
  • Excellent training for young scientists within the Graduate School of Systemic Neurosciences (GSN)
  • Employment, payment and social benefits are consistent with those at other research institutes
  • The position is funded for 3 years

The DZNE is an equal opportunity employer. It is committed to employing disabled individuals and especially encourages them to apply.


Please submit your application online via:


  1. Shi Y, Cui M, Ochs K, Brendel M, Strübing FL, Briel N, Eckenweber F, Zou C, Banati RB, Liu GJ, Middleton RJ, Rupprecht R, Rudolph U, Zeilhofer HU, Rammes G, Herms J, Dorostkar MM (2022) Long-term diazepam treatment enhances microglial spine engulfment and impairs cognitive performance via the mitochondrial 18 kDa translocator protein (TSPO). Nature Neuroscience 25: 317-329.
  2. Blumenstock S, Sun F, Klaus C, Marinković P, Sgobio C, Paeger L., Liebscher S, Herms J (2021) Cortical circuit dysfunction in a mouse model of alpha-synucleinopathy in vivo. Brain Communications 3: fcab273.
  1. Jais, A., Paeger, L., Sotelo-Hitschfeld, T., Bremser, S., Prinzensteiner, M., Klemm, P., Mykytiuk, V., Widdershooven, P.J.M., Vesting, A.J., Grzelka, K., et al. (2020). PNOCARC Neurons Promote Hyperphagia and Obesity upon High-Fat-Diet Feeding.