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Group of Guillaume Stirnemann, CNRS Institut de Biologie
Physico-Chimique, Paris, France

Towards a molecular understanding of thermophoresis and its relevance
for precursor accumulation in the context of life’s origins

        In modern cells, molecules are confined in a volume in the femtoliter
range, resulting in concen- trations that critically enhance reaction
rates. How can an efficient chemistry leading to the emergence of life
take place in an ocean, a puddle or even a water droplet, which are
109-1036 times larger? Recent pioneer experiments have shown that
thermally-driven processes such as thermophoresis can accumulate
otherwise dilute precursors at localized spots acting as thermal traps
for RNA strands oligomerization. Natural thermophoretic settings occur
e.g. in the pores of hydrothermal vents on the ocean’s floor that may
have played a key role in the appearance of biological chemistry. On a
different perspective, the number of technological applications that use
thermophoresis is burgeoning, including the manipulation of biomolecules
in thermal traps, the measurement of protein-ligand affinity or
applications in microfluidics.

Yet, a major limitation is that the nature of thermophoresis is still
highly debated. The goal of this  PhD will be to use all-atom molecular
dynamics simulations of in silico realizations of thermophoretic
settings  and analytical modeling to gain a deeper molecular
understanding of this phenomenon. Building upon our recent advances on
the topic (see e.g., we
will focus on the comparison between aqueous solutions and model
Lennard-Jones liquids, as well as on thermodiffusion in confined

Research environment Research will take place in the lab of Theoretical
Biochemistry of the CNRS Institute of Physical and Chemical Biology with
Guillaume Stirnemann. It is located in the very stimulating research
environment of the Latin Quarter, at the heart of Paris. Our group has
extensive experience in applying advanced simulation and theoretical
tools to tackle a variety of questions, ranging from water ultrafast
dynamics in aqueous solutions to the mechanical and thermal stability of
proteins. We have access to state-of-the-art computing facilities that
include a local mesoscale computer cluster. The postdoc salary includes
generous health and social benefits, and a number of housing
opportunities are available for foreign applicants. Funding is provided
for 18 months (with a possible extension if necessary) by the European
Research Council (Starting Grant ABIOS). More information about the lab
and the research group are available here:

        PhD in molecular physics or physical/theoretical chemistry. Strong
simulation skills are required, as well as the use of at least one
programming language.

Contact information
        Interested candidates should contact Guillaume Stirnemann as soon as
possible ([log in para visualizar]), together with a curriculum vitae and
contact information for one or two references

Dr. Giancarlo Franzese, University Professor; Professor of Physics;
Professor of Biomedical Engineering, ICREA Academia Awardee.

P. I. of the Group of Statistical Physics of Complex Matter,
Seccio' de Fisica Estadistica i Interdisciplinaria--Departament de
Fisica de la Materia Condensada (Office 428), Facultat de Fisica,
     &      Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (IN2UB),
Universitat de Barcelona, Marti i Franques 1, 08028 Barcelona, Spain
PHONE: +34 934039212 / FAX: +34 934021149 / Secretary: +34 934021150

E-MAIL: [log in para visualizar]
ResearcherID: A-9655-2009       Orcid ID: 0000-0003-3006-2766
Scopus Author ID: 7003330838    Loop profile: 109112
BOOK: Aspects of Physical Biology
ISSUE: Nonequilibrium Phenomena in Confined Systems
WEB: (with PDF of publications)

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