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CSC-Tübingen PhD Program: Project 14/2020:
Monitoring and understanding the biological and pathological signaling of K+ and the functional state(s) of Na+-activated K+ channels in cardiac cells

Topic Description:A recently developed mouse model resembling clinical features of heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF), a condition lacking a specific therapy, enables innovative research on this common type of cardiac disease [1] . We will apply this model to relevant mouse mutants carrying a global or cell specific ablation of the activated K+ channels KNa1.1 [2] [3] [4] or KNa1.2 [5]. Organ and cell dys--/functions will be correlated with the spatio temporal dynamics of K+ utilizing a genetically encoded FRET biosensor onto KNa1.1 and/or KNa1.2 proficient/deficient hearts as well as primary cells derived thereof [6]. The major aim of the project is to identify disease relevant KNa dependent K+ signals in distinct cardiac cells [7] and to assess whether and how KNa channels contribute to HFpEF outcomes and/or related disorders of the cardio vascular system.

Faculty: Faculty of Science
Institute/Section/Subject:Institute of Pharmacy / Experimental Pharmacology

Supervising Professors:Prof. Dr. rer. nat. Robert Lukowski

About the Supervisors:Robert Lukowski (RL) is a pharmacologist with long standing interest and experience in ion channel biology and pathophysiology (and in cGMP pathway modulation). Specifically, his laboratory has worked on the regulation and function of Ca2+--/ activated K+ channels, such as KCa1.1 (aka BKCa, Maxi K), KCa3.1 (aka IK, SK4) and KNa1.1 (aka Slo2.2, Kcnt1), in animal models of disease and their utility in drug discovery applications. His present research involves highly versatile biosensors to be used in imaging potassium selective ion channel activities in living cells and animals. Such approaches should significantly improve our understanding of the domain and/or cell type specific impact of individual channels on metabolic and cardiac disease states and on malignant behaviors in cancer cells. Since 2013 RL acts as training coordinator and speaker of ICEPHA´s graduate program, as a board member of the DFG Research Unit cGMP Signaling in Cell Growth and Survival (FOR2060), and as Vice Speaker of the recently established Research Training Group entitled cGMP: From Bedside to Bench (GRK2381). To learn more about RL, his research, and co workers follow the link to the Experimental Pharmacology group at the Institute of Pharmacy.

Requirements for the application:Required Degrees: Applications from graduates that hold a top ranked master’s degree in Molecular Medicine, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, or Pharmaceutical Sciences as well as graduates of related and equivalent courses of studies are welcome. A strong interest in the molecular functions, dynamics and pathophysiological relevance of ion channels, drivers of cardiac diseases, and mouse transgenesis is clearly preferred.
Language Requirements: Fellows will need to plan, conduct, and troubleshoot experimental approaches to solve scientific problems, as well as to critically evaluate and effectively present and communicate their research findings. In order to meet these criteria an applicant must be able to show proof of proficiency in English on at least C1 level. Basic knowledge of German language at the point of entry is very helpful but not a must.
Notes: Dr. Rebekka Ehinger, a very experienced pharmacist extensively trained in the functional analysis of KNa channels is co-mentoring the proposed project. She will offer intensive day-to-day guidance and discuss or troubleshoot ongoing experiments. At monthly "jours fixes" Dr. Ehinger and Prof. Lukowski will discuss and interpret the experimental results of the PhD student in order to design follow-up experimental steps and to guarantee optimal progress of the work.

For further instructions on how to apply, more information on the program and contact details please see below.


CSC-Tübingen PhD Program
The China Scholarship Council (CSC) and the University of Tübingen have established a PhD Program which supports Chinese nationals inside and outside of China wishing to carry out all or part of their PhD study in Tübingen.


  • providing high quality research training to qualified students from Chinese universities
  • developing education and research collaborations between the University of Tübingen and Chinese universities and research institutions

Target group:
Excellent postgraduate and doctoral students from Chinese universities who are citizens and permanent residents of the People’s Republic of China at the time of application

Details: Full time fellowship:
  • postgraduate students who want to carry out their complete doctoral studies at the University of Tübingen
  • up to 48 months
  • degree conferred by the University of Tübingen

  • Annual living allowance as prescribed by the Chinese Government (which includes Overseas Student Health Cover)
  • Return airfare to Germany
  • Visa application fees
  • Support for the attendance of international conferences during the second and third year (up to 1000€ granted to successful applicants)

  • Tuition waiver
  • Option to take German language classes provided by the University of Tübingen during the first year
  • Accommodation offered in Tübingen student dormitories depending on availability
  • Opportunities to gain additional teaching and research experience as well as economic benefits from the University of Tübingen from the second year onward (depending on the ability of the applicant and the situation of the respective institute)

Application Process:
  • Jan 15: Application deadline. Applications must be handed in through the online application system of the University of Tübingen
  • by March 1: Successful applicants will be officially informed
  • by April 5: Invited applicants have to register with the CSC according to the regulations of the CSC.
  • by May 31: Final decisions about the allocation of scholarships will be made by the CSC
  • June: Program participants will be invited for a welcome seminar in Beijing
  • by Oct 1: Program participants arrive in Tübingen
  • Successful candidates must return to China upon completion of their studies.

How to Apply:
In order to apply you need to upload the following documents combined in 1 PDF
  • Cover/Motivation letter
  • CV
  • Research proposal
  • Academic transcripts
  • Proof of proficient skills in the required languages (if possible certificates, proficiency=comprehension of a wide range of demanding, longer texts as well as fluent and spontaneous expression allowing a flexible and effective language use for social, academic and professional purposes.)

For questions please contact the representation of the University of Tübingen in Beijing:
European Centre for Chinese Studies (ECCS)
Mr. Christian Buskühl
Peking University Pacific Science and Technology Development Center
52, Haidian Road, Haidian District, Beijing 100080 / Room 708
北京大学太平洋科技发展中心, 北京市 海淀区 海淀路52号 708室 / 邮编: 100080

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