Department of Physics and Astronomy

PhD student in Physics with specialization on radiosensitization for radiation therapy – X-ray induced fragmentation in DNA (MSCA COFUND project PRISMAS)

Uppsala University welcomes applicants with diverse backgrounds and experiences. We regard gender equality and diversity as a strength and an asset.

PRISMAS - PhD Research and Innovation in Synchrotron Methods and Applications in Sweden – is a new doctoral network training the next generation of 40 leading synchrotron experts, co-funded by the Horizon Europe MSCA COFUND Programme.

As a PRISMAS PhD student, you will have the chance to conduct cutting-edge research in your field, taking advantage of state of the art tools that will bring to attractive future job opportunities in academia or industry. Moreover, you are part of designing the future of synchrotron technology and instrumentation and using these to tackle some of the most significant global challenges the world faces today while acquiring interdisciplinary and intersectoral knowledge. Being part of the PRISMAS programme gives you the one-of-a-kind experience in form of a secondment at the world´s first 4th generation synchrotron, MAX IV in Lund, Sweden. Complemented with a tailored training programme, including courses to build scientific and technical competence as well as strengthen transferrable skills, PRISMAS provides you with the skills, knowledge and competence needed to successfully achieve your doctoral degree.

The research conducted at the Department of Physics and Astronomy encompasses a wide range of physics topics, distributed over ten divisions. The department is located in the Ångström laboratory and employs nearly 400 people, 125 of whom are doctoral students. It offers a broad physics curriculum to undergraduate and graduate students, participation in nationally and internationally leading projects for researchers, and opportunities for partnership with industry and various outreach activities.

The division of X-ray Photon Science is world-leading in the use of advanced spectroscopy methods. This puts us in the forefront in atomic-level studies of atoms, molecules and condensed matter. This division includes the research programme Chemical and Bio-Molecular Physics, which as host of the project has a special focus on the fundamental properties and ultrafast processes in atoms, molecules, chemical systems, and proteins. With X-ray scattering and spectroscopy, we reveal how electrons and nuclei move and interact to explain how properties and function emerge.

Further, the project is also a part of the MSCA COFUND project PRISMAS, which offers you outstanding opportunities as well as a stimulating and inspiring surrounding for performing cutting-edge research. Supporting your mobility, it creates perfect conditions for strengthening your international network.

Read more about our benefits and what it is like to work at Uppsala University

Project description
Radiation therapy is commonly used in cancer treatment, in which the main mechanism for killing cancer cells is DNA double-strand break. One problem in radiation therapy is the damage of healthy tissue. A possible solution to this is radiosensitization of tumor cells, i.e. to introduce high Z atoms into the target area. By tuning the radiation to an absorption edge of the high Z atoms, this would lead to a much more localized dose. By studying prototype biomolecules with high Z atoms using X-rays from synchrotrons and free electron lasers, the details of these processes can be illuminated, i.e. fragmentation and the link to x-ray or Auger emission. At MAX IV, the newly commissioned ICE setup allows pinpointing fragmentation arising from specific ionization events, and correlating these. In addition, the TRISS electrospray ionization source for biomolecules combined with the ion-trap is another essential piece of equipment for this project which both enables delivery of single biomolecules.

You will study the X-ray-induced fragmentation dynamics of prototype biomolecules with high Z atoms with a suite of experimental techniques, including electron spectroscopy to reveal the intramolecular processes leading to fragmentation, and time-of-flight mass spectroscopy to study the produced fragments. You will use these techniques both separately and in coincidence at synchrotron radiation facilities. You will moreover obtain time-resolved information on the low femtosecond scale using X-ray free electron lasers. As part of PRISMAS, the project include a secondment of 3-12 months at MAX IV synchrotron in Lund, Sweden, where for example the ICE electron-ion coincidence setup and the TRISS ion trap offer state-of-the art research opportunities. Additional secondments and/or short stays may be arranged in agreement with the supervisor of the research project. Moreover, you will attend international conferences, participate in periodical project meetings and training schools as well as in specialised courses at different universities to complement your knowledge.  A certain amount of travelling is foreseen in relation to these activities.

To comply with the mobility rule of the MSCA COFUND programme, you are eligible if you have not resided in Sweden for more than 12 months during the period 2020-05-01 to 2023-05-02  for your main work or studies.

By the employment date (before 01/09/2023) you must have completed courses of at least 240 credits, of which at least 60 credits are from second-cycle courses, have been awarded a Master´s degree or have acquired largely equivalent knowledge in some other way, in Sweden or abroad.

In addition to the criteria abovementioned, you must have fulfilled a second cycle education in a relevant field, such as Physics, Chemistry or Materials science.

You are eligible for the PRISMAS programme, if you are a doctoral candidate, i.e., are not already in possession of a doctoral degree.

Fluency in both spoken and written English is a prerequisite.

Additional qualifications
You should be highly motivated to pursue experimental x-ray-based research in an active team with interest to immerse yourself into physics aspects as well as advanced sample delivery systems.

Experience in electron and ion spectroscopy will be considered a merit as well as work with vacuum equipment. Experience of work at synchrotron and free electron laser facilities will also be a merit.

Consideration will also be given to good collaborative skills, drive and independence, and how your experience and skills complement and strengthen ongoing research at the department.

The application will be evaluated based on scientific excellence, the adequacy of your career plan and your thesis project as well as your research experience.

Details on the novel, unique and common selection process for all the PRISMAS positions can be found here: How to apply – MAX IV (

The application should consist of

  • CV in Europass format
  • A two-page cover letter, justifying your interest in the position and how it matches your qualifications as well as the prioritization in case of applying to several PRISMAS positions.
  • at least one reference letter
  • an evidence of English 3 proficiency (minimum B2 level)
  • Copy of academic records (including marks for all coursework) with a transcript of diploma in English,
  • and any other document to which you would like to draw attention (details of referees, letters of recommendation, etc.)

These documents should be uploaded (pdf) in the job application portal. Exam certificates and other documents on paper should be scanned or photographed before being uploaded.

Uppsala University welcomes applicants with diverse backgrounds and experiences.

About the employment
Rules governing PhD students are set out in the Higher Education Ordinance chapter 5, §§ 1-7 and in Uppsala University's rules and guidelines.

The employment is a temporary position for four years at 100 % of full time according to the Higher Education Ordinance chapter 5 § 7. The position is foreseen to start on 01/09/2023. Placement: Uppsala

For further information about the position or research project, please contact: Carl Caleman, or Olle Björneholm,

If you have questions on the selection process, please contact:

Please submit your application by  May 2 2023, UFV-PA 2023/792.

Are you considering moving to Sweden to work at Uppsala University? Find out more about what it´s like to work and live in Sweden.

Type of employment Temporary position
Contract type Full time
First day of employment 2023-09-01
Salary Fixed salary
Number of positions 1
Full-time equivalent 100 %
City Uppsala
County Uppsala län
Country Sweden
Reference number UFV-PA 2023/792
Union representative
  • ST/TCO,
  • Seko Universitetsklubben,
  • Saco-rådet,
Published 03.Mar.2023
Last application date 02.May.2023 11:59 PM CEST

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