You will use human induced pluripotent stem cell-derived organoids of the brain, intestine and vagus nerve cultured onto a microfluidic chip to investigate key molecular aspects of human physiology and Parkinson’s disease. Under the supervision of a highly skilled post-doctoral scientist and in collaboration with other groups at the University of Twente you will use existing differentiation procedures to create brain stem, intestinal and vagus nerve organoids from pluripotent stem cells. Following their generation, you will culture them into home-manufactured microfluidic devices and validate the identity, stage of maturation, and functional activity of the organoids using biomarker (protein and mRNA) expression, imaging, epithelial barrier integrity and electrophysiological read-outs. Using CRISPR-Cas9-mediated gene editing you will modulate the genetic make-up of pluripotent stem cells to express potential features of interest to microbiome-gut-brain axis communication. You will generate bacterial cultures and use live cell stains to visualize their co-culture with intestinal organoids using advanced types of microscopy and study aberrations in their communication in response to Parkinson’s disease-related changes to normal physiology using classical biochemical read-outs such as ELISA, western blot and PCR.
- We are seeking a highly driven individual, keen to push the boundaries of current technological and biological state-of-the-art looking to pursue an academic career as a PhD.
- You have a MSc degree in cell biology, biochemistry or neurobiology.
- You have a hands-on in-depth expertise in (stem) cell biology and biochemistry.
- You have affinity with neurobiological systems.
- You preferably have experience using CRISPR-Cas9 to edit cell lines and worked with differentiation protocols to create organoid cultures before.
- You are an eloquent and transparent communicator, keen to learn from others and share your insights with the team.
- You are not shying away from leaving the beaten track to push our research forward, view challenges as exciting opportunities, and are an out-of-the-box thinker.
- As some microfluidic chip fabrication will be required in this project, you are interested in learning how to create these devices.
- Proficiency in English is required, both spoken and written.
- You need to provide IELTS test results (minimum score 6.5) or TOEFL iBT (minimum score 90).
- The latter is not necessary for native speakers of English or whose MSc program was in English.
- Fulltime position for four years.
- The university offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues in a stimulating scientific environment.
- The PhD salary is € 2.541,- in the first year and increases to € 3.247,- in the fourth year.
- A holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.
- The number of holiday hours for full-time employment is 232 hours per calendar year.
- A personal development program within the Twente Graduate School.
- A family-friendly institution that offers parental leave (both paid and unpaid
- Free access to sports facilities on campus
- The flexibility to work (partially) from hom
- The University offers a dynamic ecosystem with enthusiastic colleagues
Bedrijfsprofiel Universiteit Twente
About the department
Brain disorders present a global debilitating burden to society urgently calling for in-depth molecular understanding of their pathological processes to propel the development of effective therapeutic targeting strategies forward. While many brain-localized aspects are known that regulate brain function, interestingly, a feature located nearly a meter away from the brain critically drives brain activity and cognition. This feature comprises the intestinal microbiota, or microbiome, which is considered to interact with the brain via the intestinal microbiome-gut-brain axis. Perturbations in the richness and diversity of the microbiome are a common feature in many brain-related disorders, including neurodegenerative disorders such as Parkinson’s disease. Nevertheless, the molecules, cell types and signaling pathways involved in this multi-tissue process remain enigmatic. Studies into this topic remain sparse as a result of multi-organ complexity and challenges to accurately recapitulate this complexity by means of current systems to model the human physiological microbiome-gut-brain axis. This project aims to provide fundamental mechanistic insights into how long distance interaction aids the communication between the microbiome and brain health and disease by exploiting the differentiation potential of induced pluripotent stem cells into organoids. This project will use an integrated microbiome-gut-brain axis on a microfluidic chip from polycultured microbiome and stem cell-derived intestine, vagus nerve and brain connection to investigate key aspects of human physiology and Parkinson’s disease.
About the organisation
The Faculty of Science & Technology (Technische Natuurwetenschappen, TNW) engages some 700 staff members and 2000 students in education and research on the cutting edge of chemical technology, applied physics and biomedical technology. Our fields of application include sustainable energy, process technology and materials science, nanotechnology and technical medicine. As part of a people-first tech university that aims to shape society, individuals and connections, our faculty works together intensively with industrial partners and researchers in the Netherlands and abroad, and conducts extensive research for external commissioning parties and funders. Our research has a high profile both in the Netherlands and internationally and is strengthened by the many young researchers working on innovative projects with as doctoral candidates and post-docs. It has been accommodated in three multidisciplinary UT research institutes: Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centre and Digital Society Institute.
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