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PhD: The role of gut microbiota in immune senescence and cardiovascular disease

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DepartmentDepartment of Pediatrics
Work locationGroningen
Apply no later than07 July 2019

Job description

The Department of Pediatrics at the University Medical Center Groningen, the Netherlands, is looking for a highly motivated PhD student to assess the contributions of microbiome-derived signals in the etiology of age- and obesity-related cardio-metabolic diseases through (immune) senescence.

Background:
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) remains the number one cause of death worldwide. Atherosclerosis, the underlying pathology of CVD, is known as a lipid-driven inflammatory disorder. Although there are drugs that can successfully reduce the risk of CVD, there remains a substantial residual risk to resolve. This project is a part of “Inflammatory Reprogramming by Ageing and Microbiome – Targets for Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease” (IN-CONTROL II), a large, national project funded by CardioVascular Onderzoek Nederland (CVON).

The Department of Pediatrics at the University Medical Center Groningen aims at understanding the molecular principles of metabolic health and mechanism underlying the development of inborn and acquired diseases. We are interested in understanding the etiology of various complex diseases, with a specific focus on inflammation, dyslipidemia and cardiovascular disease. In the recent years, we have developed a powerful combination of techniques (e.g. CRISPR/Cas9 technology, proteomics) and in vivo models to study molecular mechanism that are involved in the above-mentioned pathologies. This knowledge will be applied to improve diagnostics and/or effective prevention and treatment.

The candidate will perform mechanistic studies in conventional and germ-free mice to quantify the causal role of the microbiome in immunological aging and evaluate the contribution of bile acid (metabolism) to cardio-metabolic risk development. You will perform mechanistic studies in mice to evaluate the development of cellular senescence in target tissues (heart, fat, liver) and immune functions in relation to atherosclerosis and cardiac dysfunction. In addition, you will evaluate relevant aspects of CVD (microbiome composition, metabolic profile, cardiac function) and immune functions in mice upon removal of senescent cells and/or novel pharmacological modulators. Cells and tissues samples will be analyzed at the cell biological (immunofluorescence), transcriptional, and biochemical (proteomics) level. Under dedicated supervision, you will be responsible to successfully complete your PhD training program, present at national/international scientific conferences, and report in scientific renowned journals.

What do we need

Candidates should have an M.Sc. degree in molecular (cell) biology, medical biology, immunology, systems biology or a comparable discipline. The candidate should be able to work in a team of fellow PhD students and technicians. We are specifically looking for PhD candidates with strong problem-solving capacities, creative thinking and with experience in molecular and cell biology techniques, and mouse handling.
Candidates with these qualities will be selected with priority:

  • experience in microbiome, metabolism and immunity
  • working experience with mouse models
  • affinity with bioinformatics
  • excellent oral and written communication skills
  • fluency in English

The UMCG has a preventive Hepatitis B policy. The UMCG can provide you with the vaccination, should it be required for your position.

In case of specific professions a ‘Certificate of Good Conduct’ is required.

What do we offer

You will be appointed as a PhD candidate in the Dutch University job-ranking system (UFO). Duration of the PhD project lasts 4 years. The successful candidate will first be offered a temporary position of one year with the option of renewal for another three years upon evaluation.

Your salary will be a maximum of € 3.020,- gross per month (scale PhD), depending on your qualifications and relevant experience, based on a fulltime appointment. In addition, the UMCG will offer you 8% holiday pay and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. The conditions of employment comply with the Collective Labour Agreement for Medical Centres (CAO-UMC).

The University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG), located in the center of Groningen, is one of the Netherlands’ eight university medical centers.

More information
For more information about this vacancy you may contact:
dr. Debby Koonen, e-mail: Contact or prof. dr. Folkert Kuipers, e-mail: Contact (do not use e-mailaddresses for applications)

Applying for a job

Please use the digital application form at the bottom of this page - only these will be processed.
You can apply until 7 July 2019.
Within half an hour after sending the digital application form you will receive an email- confirmation with further information.