ESR PhD Student 'Renal and cerebral small vessel disease: an inflammatory tangle'

ESR PhD Student 'Renal and cerebral small vessel disease: an inflammatory tangle'

Published Deadline Location
19 Mar 5 Apr Maastricht

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Would you like to increase our knowledge in understanding the dynamic interactions between vascular and endocrine pathways in hypertension and boost European innovation in future health science and industry towards more effective prevention of and cure for hypertension? Would you like to start your career in a European training network of leading research universities and professionals from the industry? Would you like to be part of a unique training programme focussed on personal development leading to a joint or double doctorate?

Job description

The Early Stage Researcher (ESR) will be trained within the prestigious Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network MINDSHIFT (Mechanistic Integration of vascular aND endocrine pathways for Subtyping Hypertension: an Innovative network approach for Future generation research Training) and will perform the research project entitled "Renal  and cerebral  small vessel disease: an inflammatory tangle" primarily at Maastricht University under the supervision of Prof. Thomas Unger and Dr  Sébastien Foulquier in close collaboration with other ESRs from partners at Universidad Autonoma de Madrid, Maastricht University and with our private partner at Intelligent Imaging Innovations.

This project aims at identifying the sequential relationship between renal and cerebral microvascular dysfunction in hypertension. We hypothesise that a specific panel of pro-inflammatory signals is responsible for the initiation of a pathological cascade, including extracellular matrix and vascular remodelling which occurs concomitantly with capillary rarefaction in kidneys and later in brain. The ESR will work in close collaboration with other ESRs to assess the differential expression of proinflammatory mediators in both kidneys and brain over time and to study the potential involvement of advance glycation end-products (AGEs) in this deleterious signalling

Cerebral and renal tissues from diseased animal models will be studied by advanced 3D imaging and mass spectrometry imaging and correlated to renal and cerebral functional parameters. The sequential relationship between kidney and brain pathology will be assessed at different time points. The 3D architecture (e.g. tortuosity, branching) and density of the microcirculation in brains and kidneys will be studied using tissue clearing technique combined with 2-photon and light sheet microscopies in collaboration with Intelligent Imaging. Furthermore, MSI with integrative molecular histology will allow analysis of microvascular dysfunction in relation to alterations in lipids and metabolites induced by the pro-inflammatory signals. Using this molecular histology approach, we will identify inflammatory/metabolic drivers that systemically affect the microvasculature and accelerate the development of organ damage. 

Planned secondments: 2 months at Intelligent Imaging Innovations (3i Ltd, London) on imaging techniques and image processing; 4 months within the group of Prof. A. Briones (Universidad Autonoma de Madrid) to investigate the expressions of pro-inflammatory mediators from tissue material collected at the host group; 2 months within the group of Prof. C. Schalkwijk.


Maastricht University (UM)


Please note there are strict *eligibility requirements* which apply to all Marie Skłodowska-Curie Early Stage Researchers. At the time of the appointment: Applicants must not have resided or carried out his/her main activity (work, studies, etc.) in The Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before appointment under the project; Applicants shall also be in the first four years of their research careers at the time of appointment by the host organisation and have not been awarded a doctoral degree. For more information on Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks (ITNs), please see:

Qualifications: MSc degree in a biomedical related field; animal FELASA certificate;

Experience: previous experience in a related field is an asset;

Knowledge & skills: experience with common molecular techniques; animal work and  microscopy;

Abilities: good English working proficiency (min C1 level);

Attitude and disposition: Creative and independent thinker; excellent communicator (oral and written); team worker; willing to do secondments abroad (6 months abroad).

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 3 years.

You will be offered a salary plus mobility allowance and family allowance (if applicable) in line with the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Horizon 2020 requirements for Early Stage Researchers. Go to  and > Support > UM employees for more information.

Please submit your application by filling in the vacancy form on the MINDSHIFT website.


Maastricht University

Maastricht University is renowned for its unique, innovative, problem-based learning system, which is characterized by a small-scale and student-oriented approach. Research at UM is characterized by a multidisciplinary and thematic approach, and is concentrated in research institutes and schools. Maastricht University has around 20,000 students and 4,700 employees. Reflecting the university's strong international profile, a fair amount of both students and staff are from abroad. The university hosts 6 faculties: Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Faculty of Law, School of Business and Economics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience.


MINDSHIFT is an EU funded PhD network coordinated by CARIM, School for Cardiovascular Diseases of Maastricht University, The Netherlands. MINDSHIFT brings together six university partners from across Europe to recruit a group of 15 of the best early stage researchers. The doctoral researchers will work together with senior researchers from across the network. Each candidate will be employed at one of the six universities and enrolled in a local PhD programme, while at the same time being part of an integrated research team and research project at network level.

MINDSHIFT offers a top-level interdisciplinary research programme to bridge the gap in understanding the dynamic interactions between vascular and endocrine pathways in hypertension, using an integrative framework approach fed by new data and insights from cutting-edge experimental and clinical studies.


  • PhD
  • Health
  • AT2021.89


Maastricht University (UM)

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Universiteitssingel 50, 6229 ER, Maastricht

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