Postdoctor in molecular simulation and computational chemistry of therapeutic oligonucleotides

University of Gothenburg

Application deadline

January 31, 2022

Postdoctor in molecular simulation and computational chemistry of therapeutic oligonucleotides

Ref PAR 2021/1728

The University of Gothenburg tackles society’s challenges with diverse knowledge. 53 500 students and 6 500 employees make the university a large and inspiring place to work and study. Strong research and attractive study programmes attract scientists and students from around the world. With new knowledge and new perspectives, the University contributes to a better future.

At the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, at the Sahlgrenska Academy, we conduct research and education covering a wide range of knowledge areas. The institute comprises five different departments: Clinical Neuroscience, Health and Rehabilitation, Pharmacology, Physiology and Psychiatry and Neurochemistry.

The Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, invites applications for a postdoctoral position in molecular simulation and computational chemistry of therapeutic oligonucleotides, at the Department of Pharmacology.

This position is part of a joint collaboration between the two largest research programs in Sweden, the Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program (WASP) and the SciLifeLab and Wallenberg National Program for Data-Driven Life Science (DDLS), with the ultimate goal of solving ground-breaking research questions across disciplines.  

The present position, at the Department of Pharmacology, is one of two postdoctoral positions in a DDLS/WASP-funded joint research project between Pär Matsson (Department of Pharmacology,  University of Gothenburg, and Alexander Schliep (CSE, University of Gothenburg | Chalmers,, aiming to improve the design of oligonucleotide-based drugs using computational chemistry, biophysical simulation and AI methods. 

The two postdoctoral scientists will closely collaborate, will be jointly supervised by both PIs, and spend time in both labs. Close ties to the OligoNova Hub at the University of Gothenburg (part of SciLifeLab’s Drug Discovery and Development platform) and the considerable research activities at AstraZeneca R&D Gothenburg, provide a vibrant research environment in the exciting new area of computational design of oligonucleotide therapeutics. The PIs have extensive expertise in machine learning, AI for drug design, predicting oligonucleotide hybridization energies, as well as modeling and simulation of cellular pharmacology, measuring cellular drug disposition, and quantification of binding kinetics and –energetics of small-molecule and oligonucleotide therapeutics. Additionally, the project involves collaboration with Rula Zain’s research group (Karolinska Institutet) to identify clinically relevant target genes in rare diseases and evaluate predicted oligonucleotide candidates in in vitro and in vivo models. Consequently, the postdoctoral position will position candidates uniquely to develop independent research programs and pursue distinguished careers in academia or industry. 

Wallenberg AI, Autonomous Systems and Software Program (WASP) is Sweden’s largest individual research program ever, a major national initiative for strategically motivated basic research, education and faculty recruitment. The program addresses research on artificial intelligence and autonomous systems acting in collaboration with humans, adapting to their environment through sensors, information and knowledge, and forming intelligent systems-of- systems. The vision of WASP is excellent research and competence in artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and software for the benefit of Swedish industry. Read more:

The SciLifeLab and Wallenberg National Program for Data-Driven Life Science (DDLS) is a 12-year initiative that focuses on data-driven research, within fields essential for improving the people´s lives, detecting and treating diseases, protecting biodiversity and creating sustainability. The program will train the next generation of life scientists and create a strong computational and data science base. The program aims to strengthen national collaborations between universities, bridge the research communities of life sciences and data sciences, and create partnerships with industry, healthcare and other national and international actors. Read more:

Subject area

Molecular simulation and computational chemistry of therapeutic oligonucleotides.

Subject area description 

Oligonucleotide-based drugs have the potential to transform treatment of diseases that currently lack therapies. Therapeutic oligonucleotides are chemically modified RNA- or DNA-based drugs that elicit their effect through complementary binding to target nucleotide sequences in the diseased cell. The project aims to delineate how the various chemical modification used in the design of therapeutic oligonucleotides affect their binding thermodynamics and -kinetics towards the target sequence and to other biomolecules, including cellular proteins. Such interactions are critical in controlling efficacy and safety, but are poorly understood at the molecular scale.

Two postdoctoral candidates will work closely together in this joint program, focusing on distinct projects: the present position is aimed at molecular simulation and computational chemistry calculations of interactions involving therapeutic oligonucleotides, whereas the second position (announced separately) is focused on the application of AI methodology for predicting oligonucleotide binding.

Job assignments

The postdoctor will develop and apply molecular dynamics simulation and quantum mechanics-based techniques to study the impact of chemical modification on the binding of therapeutic oligonucleotides to target nucleotide sequences and to cellular proteins.


An achieved doctoral degree is compulsory for a position as postdoctor at the University of Gothenburg. The doctoral thesis shall be in a relevant area according to the specific position stated here. Since postdoctoral constitutes a qualifying appointment for junior researchers, we aim to target those who have a doctoral degree not older than 3 years from the application deadline.


We are looking for a highly motivated individual with significant experience in molecular simulation and/or computational chemistry. Previous experience in computational modeling to quantify biomolecular interactions is required. Excellent collaborative skills and oral as well as written proficiency in English are mandatory. Experience of studying nucleotide–nucleotide and/or nucleotide–protein interactions using molecular dynamics simulations and/or quantum chemical calculations is highly meriting. Knowledge of biophysical measurements of nucleotide binding interactions (using SPR, thermal spectrophotometry or similar techniques) is of additional merit. Great emphasis will be placed on personal suitability.


The employment is limited (temporary) for 24 months, 100% of full-time, and is placed at the Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology. Starting date; as soon as possible or as agreed.

Appointment procedure

In order to apply for a position at the University of Gothenburg, you have to register an account in our online recruitment system.

For further information

If you have questions regarding the employment please contact Professor Pär Matsson, e-mail; 

Manager in charge is Researcher/Head of Department Michael Winder, phone; +4631 786 34 77, e-mail;

Application documents are not to be submitted through the contact persons.


Union representatives at the University of Gothenburg:

Information for International Applicants

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How to apply

In order to apply for a position at the University of Gothenburg, you have to register an account in our online recruitment system. It is the responsibility of the applicant to ensure that the application is complete in accordance with the instructions in the job advertisement, and that it is submitted before the deadline. 

Please enclose PhD certificate with the application.

Closing date: 2022-01-31 

Last updated: 2022-01-11

Content Responsible: David Gotthold(