Postdoctoral Position: Motor Circuit Function

A postdoctoral position is available in the laboratory of Silvia Arber to study the function of brainstem neurons in motor behaviors.

The brainstem plays an essential role in controlling the generation of diverse body actions. Yet, surprisingly little is known about how functionally diverse neurons collaborate to select and execute appropriate actions. Our recent work has revealed the existence of highly organized circuits in the brainstem, with functionally dedicated neuronal populations acting as command lines to generate diverse actions including skilled forelimb movement and locomotion (Esposito et al., 2014, Nature; Pivetta et al., 2014, Cell; Basaldella et al., 2015, Cell; Capelli et al., 2017, Nature; Ferreira-Pinto et al., 2021, Cell; Ruder et al., 2021, Nature). The goal of our future work is to understand the functionality of these identified brainstem neurons within the broader context of the motor system, to reveal the circuit level mechanisms by which one action is selected over another, and to understand how neuronal activity can drive programs to generate the diverse but specific actions of our bodies needed to carry out all behaviors. For additional information on our laboratory’s work, see:

The successful candidate should be highly motivated to contribute to our efforts to understand the function of the motor system. He/she should have a background in applying in vivo methods to neuronal circuit function and is expected to take a leading role in in vivo electrophysiology and/or 2-photon imaging experiments (data acquisition and analysis), aligned with recording behavior. Prior work on motor system function is not a must. Background in programming and knowledge in hardware required for data acquisition is a plus. In addition, we expect excellent communication and organization skills, and the ability to work as a team member.

Our laboratory is located at the Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research (FMI). The FMI, affiliated with the University of Basel and the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research, is an international institute aimed at understanding the basic molecular mechanisms of health and disease. World-class support facilities in optical and electron microscopic imaging, computational biology, genomics and Research IT among others, as well as excellent mechanic and electronic workshops support ongoing research. The FMI is situated in Basel, Switzerland, a city in the center of Europe offering an outstanding scientific and cultural environment.

Applications should be emailed to and include a CV and motivation letter, as well as names and email addresses for at least two referees who are well familiar with past work achieved by the candidate. Informal questions about the position can be directed to the same email address.