Call for Application #2023-BMX-C02 closed since January 14, 2024

New Strategies to Target Autoreactive Plasma Cells

Call closed!

1 Group Leader
2 Postdoctoral Researchers
2 Research Assistants

What we are looking for

The BioMed X Institute in Heidelberg, Germany, is establishing a new, fully funded research group in the field of immunology:

New Strategies to Target Autoreactive Plasma Cells

If you hold a PhD or master’s degree with an outstanding track record or strong interest in this field and are interested to lead or collaborate in a cross-functional team, we invite you to apply with a project proposal for a position in our new research group (1 group leader, 2 postdoctoral researchers, 2 research assistants).

Each BioMed X project team is sponsored by an industry partner. The sponsor of this call for application is Servier.

Current therapeutic strategies for autoimmune diseases primarily focus on broadly suppressing the immune response. These include the use of corticosteroids, immunosuppressants, and biologics that target entire immune cell subsets or cytokines. While these treatments can be effective in reducing symptoms and inflammation, they come with significant side effects, such as increased susceptibility to infections and increased risk of developing malignancies.

Moreover, these treatments do not specifically target one of the root causes of the disease – the autoreactive plasma cells. Autoreactive plasma cells produce autoantibodies that target self-antigens, driving pathogenesis in many autoimmune diseases. So far, attempts to selectively target and eliminate autoreactive plasma cells have been unsuccessful since – unlike B cells – these cells do not express high levels of B cell receptors (BCRs) on their surface. Specific biomarkers distinguishing autoreactive plasma cells from their healthy counterparts are unknown.

In close collaboration with our pharma partner Servier, the task of the new research group is to develop novel strategies to selectively target autoreactive plasma cells in autoimmune diseases. Project proposals should focus on the following key challenges, preferably in pemphigus vulgaris or a similar autoimmune disease, as a proof of concept:

  • Explore deep biology of human autoreactive plasma cells.
  • Identify highly specific biomarkers that distinguish human autoreactive from protective plasma cells.
  • Identify and validate novel drug targets to selectively eliminate plasma cells producing autoantibodies.

Original ideas reaching far beyond the current state-of-the-art are particularly encouraged. However, approaches involving medical devices (e.g., plasmapheresis), animal models, cell therapy, MHC-based therapy, or therapies targeting the consequences of autoantibodies are out of scope.

Group leader positions are intended to suit candidates with a PhD (or equivalent) in immunology, or in a related area who would like to develop themselves towards a leadership career path either in academia or industry and typically have between three and six years of relevant postdoctoral research experience.

Candidates for postdoctoral positions are expected to have completed a PhD (or equivalent) within the last three years and a certain degree of specialization in one or more relevant cutting-edge technologies and scientific areas.

What we offer

  • A position in a fully funded research group with an annual budget of 950,000 EUR. The funding package covers salaries, consumables, services, travel costs, as well as access to the core facilities of neighboring research institutions in Heidelberg.
  • An initial term of three years, with the possibility of prolongation for up to two additional years.
  • An exciting research opportunity in a multidisciplinary and international research institution with a collegial and flexible working environment.
  • Participation in the BioMed X Boot Camp: learn how to build a compelling pitch presentation in only 5 days.

There is flexibility over starting dates, but successful applicants are welcome to take up post starting May 1st, 2024.

Application & Selection Process

  • Please apply via the online Career Space on this website
  • As part of the online application procedure, you will be asked to submit: (i) A competitive project proposal that gives us an idea of your scientific expertise and creative potential (3-5 pages describing an interesting hypothesis, scientific rationale, and a unique experimental approach); (ii) Your curriculum vitae including your publication record.
  • Deadline for applications: January 14th, 2024
  • After a first selection round, candidates will be invited to a five-day innovation boot camp in Heidelberg from March 4th to 8th, 2024. With the guidance of experienced mentors, candidates will jointly work on their project proposals and present them in front of a jury on the final day. Successful candidates will be offered a position at the BioMed X Institute in Heidelberg, Germany.

About BioMed X

BioMed X is an independent research institute with sites in Heidelberg, Germany, New Haven, Connecticut, XSeed Labs in Ridgefield, Connecticut, and a worldwide network of partner locations. Together with our partners, we identify big biomedical research challenges and provide creative solutions by combining global crowdsourcing with local incubation of the world’s brightest early-career research talents. Each of the highly diverse research teams at BioMed X has access to state-of-the-art research infrastructure and is continuously guided by experienced mentors from academia and industry. At BioMed X, we combine the best of two worlds – academia and industry – and enable breakthrough innovation by making biomedical research more efficient, more agile, and more fun.


BioMed X Institute

Im Neuenheimer Feld 515
69120 Heidelberg

Phone: +49 6221 42611 0