PhD scholarship: Novel ex vivo experimental approaches to decode sea lice resistance mechanisms in salmonid fishes

The Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

NMBU has a particular responsibility for research and education that secures the basis for the life of future generations. Sustainability is rooted in everything we do and we deliver knowledge for life. NMBU has 1,800 employees of which about 250 phd scholarships and 6,000 students. The university is divided into seven faculties and has campuses in Ås and Oslo. We will be co-located in Ås from 2021.

NMBU believes that a good working environment is characterised by diversity.

We encourage qualified candidates to apply regardless of gender, functional ability, cultural background or whether you have been outside the labour market for a period. If necessary, workplace adaptations will be made for persons with disabilities. More information about NMBU is available at

About the position

The Department of Animal and Aquacultural Sciences, Faculty of Biosciences at the Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU) has a vacant 3-year PhD–position related to salmon cell biology and mechanisms of sea lice resistance in salmonid species.

The position is financed with strategic funding from NMBU and will be linked to the RCN funded project LiceRESIST that seeks to understand the genetics behind resistance to sea lice.

Sea lice (Lepeophtheirus salmonis) represent the single most economically important animal welfare problem for salmon aquaculture in Norway, threatening sustainability and limits further expansion of production.

Sea lice feed on epidermal mucous, the underlying tissue and blood of fish, resulting in lesions that lead to secondary infections.

The PhD project will focus on development of cutting-edge cell culturing technology in two salmonid species, differing in their resistance properties to sea lice. One of the main efforts will be directed on developing new immortalized skin cells lines from susceptible (Atlantic salmon) and resistant (Coho) salmonids. In addition, the candidate will work to develop approaches to map the responses of sea lice infestation in these cells, thereby gene editing approaches. The candidate will work in close collaboration with other PhD-students and postdoctoral researchers.

The successful candidate will join CIGENE ( ), a multidisciplinary genome biology research group possessing broad expertise in genetics, genomics, systems biology with recent expansion into targeted genome editing. The center operates comprehensive tissue culture and molecular lab facilities that are supported by an experienced team of engineers.

Main tasks

The main task of the PhD student is to establish novel ex vivo experimental approaches to discover and validate inflammatory responses and resistance mechanisms diverging in susceptible (Atlantic salmon) vs. resistant salmonids (Coho). To achieve this goal the recruited PhD student will collaborate with ongoing cell culture development project at CIGENE to obtain culturable cells from both Atlantic and Coho salmon. The next task is to use these cell lines to identify which factors in the sea lice that gives an immune response. The following task is to expose cell lines to these sea lice immunostimulants in a whole genome CRISPR screen to reveal novel genes controlling host responses to sea lice, and finally validating the top hits by doing in vivo gene editing.

The successful candidate is expected to enter a plan for the progress of the work towards a PhD degree during the first months of the appointment, with a view to completing a doctorate within the PhD scholarship period.


The successful applicant must meet the conditions defined for admission to a PhD programme at NMBU. The applicant must have an academically relevant education corresponding to a five-year Norwegian degree programme, where 120 credits are at master's degree level. The applicant must have a documented strong academic background from previous studies and be able to document proficiency in both written and oral English. For more detailed information on the admission criteria please see the PhD Regulations and the relevant PhD programme description . The applicant must document expertise and interest in the research subject.

Required Academic qualifications

  • Master’s degree in molecular or cell biology, physiology, genetics or a similar field
  • Experience with current cell culture methodology
  • Familiarity with modern molecular biology techniques

The following experiences and skills will be emphasized:

  • Strong molecular biology skills, familiarity with CRISPR based genome modification technologies and relevant experience with lab techniques mentioned in this advertisement
  • Experience in microscopy-based research
  • Proficiency in computational analysis of molecular and phenotypic data
  • Experience/familiarity with RStudio/MINITAB/SPSS
  • Ability for independent work displaying initiative and creative views
  • Analytical and academic approach to research questions

You need to:

  • Have good collaborative skills
  • Be proficient in English, both written and spoken.

Remuneration and further information

The position is placed in government pay scale position code 1017 PhD. Fellow. PhD. Fellows are normally placed in pay grade 54 (NOK 482.200,-) on the Norwegian Government salary scale upon employment and follow ordinary meriting regulations.

Employment is conducted according to national guidelines for University and Technical College PhD scholars.

For further information, please contact Dr. Guro Sandvik, Associate Professor

E-mail: ; phone +4767232692

Information for PhD applicants and general information to applicants


To apply online for this vacancy, please click on the 'Apply for this job' button above. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

Application deadline: 30.04.2021

Applications should include (electronically) a letter of intent, curriculum vitae, full publication list, copies of degree certificates and transcripts of academic records (all certified), and a list of two persons who may act as references (with phone numbers and e-mail addresses).

Publications should be included electronically within the application deadline. The relevant NMBU Department may require further documentation, e.g. proof of English proficiency.

Printed material which cannot be sent electronically should be sent by surface mail to the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, Faculty of Biosciences, P.O. Box 5003, NO-1432 Ås, within 30th of April 2021. Please quote reference number (21/01815).

If it is difficult to judge the applicant’s contribution for publications with multiple authors, a short description of the applicant’s contribution must be included.

About The Faculty of Biosciences

The Faculty of Life Sciences (BIOVIT) aims to help shape the future food- and bio-production of through teaching and research within biology and sustainable production and use of plants, livestock and fish. The faculty has an annual turnover of approx. 250 million kroner. The faculty is organized into nine research sections: Genome biology, Breeding and Quantitative Genetics, Ruminant Nutrition and Physiology, Ethology and Animal Environment, Nutrition and Physiology, Agroecology, Genetics and Plant Breeding, Plant Protection and Food Crops, Pant Biology and Biotechnology. The faculty has seven large and small research centers and laboratories, including a center for outstanding innovation (CFI) - Foods of Norway. The faculty is responsible for bachelor's and master's degrees in Aquaculture, Biology, Animal Science and Plant science as well as English-language master's degrees in Agroecology, Plant Sciences, Feed Manufacturing Technology and Genome Sciences. The faculty is responsible for PhD degrees in animal science and plant science. The faculty currently has about 550 bachelor and master students and 90 PhD students. The faculty has about 220 employees and its own faculty administration.


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