Junior Research Scientist in structural and functional biology of the human microbiota


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INRAE presentation

The French National Research Institute for Agriculture, Food, and the Environment (INRAE) is a public research establishment under the dual authority of the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Research.

INRAE is recruiting researchers by open competition and offering permanent position.

It is a major player in research and innovation created on 1st of January 2020. INRAE is a research institute resulting from the merger of INRA and IRSTEA. It is a community of 12,000 people with more than 200 research units and 42 experimental units located throughout France.

The institute is among the world leaders in agricultural and food sciences, in plant and animal sciences, and is 11th in the world in ecology and environment. INRAE’s main goal is to be a key player in the transitions necessary to address major global challenges. In the face of the increase in population, climate change, scarcity of resources and decline in biodiversity, the institute develops solutions for multiperformance agriculture, high quality food and sustainable management of resources and ecosystems.

Work environment, missions and activities

MICALIS is a Joint Research Unit (Université Paris-Saclay, INRAE, AgroParisTech) that gathers over 350 people (22 teams) and is located at the INRAE research center in Jouy-en-Josas. You will join the ChemSyBio team led by Dr. Olivier Berteau & Dr. Alhosna Benjdia. The main research objective of the ChemSyBio team is to get a better understanding of the roles and mechanisms of the enzymes of the microbiome, in the context of human health. The team is mainly interested in an emerging family of metalloenzymes that play a key role notably in bacterial adaptation to the host, the biosynthesis of antibiotics and the post-translational modification of proteins and peptides. These enzymes catalyze a wide range of reactions, some of them being unprecedented in living organisms, by exploiting various cofactors such as vitamin B12. This vitamin is essential for humans but also for the microbiome. Recent studies have shown that while only 20% of the bacteria from the microbiota produce vitamin B12, 80% of them are dependent on it. In the microbiota, there is an intense competition for vitamin B12, and bacteria have thus evolved various adaptive strategies to acquire this essential cofactor (i.e. trafficking, remodeling etc.). Finally, the importance of vitamin B12 in the microbiota also suggests critical roles in physiological processes that have yet to be elucidated.

In this context, you will develop a research program on these novel metalloenzymes with the aim of understanding their importance within the microbiome and investigating their structure-function relationships. Hence, you will explore their diversity in terms of cofactors and structure, as well as the interactions of these enzymes with their substrates. In particular, vitamin B12-dependent enzymes will be investigated with the aim of deciphering their diversity and understanding the key role of vitamin B12 in the microbiome and host interactions. To this aim, you will benefit from the methodologies and expertises of the ChemSyBio team on emerging systems, such as protein crystallization approaches, biochemistry and physico-chemical analyses, as well as additional structural biology approaches (e.g. Cryo-EM, Serial crystallography), in order to get an integrated view of the diversity and role of these novel metalloenzymes in the context of human health and physiology.

Training and skills

PhD or equivalent

Competition opened to candidates holding a doctorate (or equivalent).

A PhD in structural biology with a validated experience in structural analysis of proteins by X-ray diffraction (crystallogenesis, processing of data collection, structural resolution) would be an asset for your research project. Solid expertise in protein biochemistry and enzymatic mechanisms would be an asset, as well as knowledge of novel developments in structural biology (Cryo-EM, NMR, etc.).

A good command of written and spoken English is highly desirable, as well as a long term international experience: the laureates who have not yet done so will have to carry out a stay abroad at the end of the internship year.

INRAE's life quality

By joining our teams, you benefit from:

- 30 days of annual leave + 15 days "Reduction of Working Time" (for a full time);
- parenting support: CESU childcare, leisure services;
- skills development systems: training, career advise;
- social support: advice and listening, social assistance and loans;
- holiday and leisure services: holiday vouchers, accommodation at preferential rates;
sports and cultural activities;
- collective catering.

For international scientists: please visit your guide to facilitate your arrival and stay at INRAE

Offer reference

  • Profile number: CR-2024-ALIMH-1
  • Corps: CR
  • Category: A
  • Open competition number: 30
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