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Myopia (near-sightedness) results from the eyeball being too long from front to back. It leads to structural changes in the retina and is the most common cause of blindness in working-age adults. The sclera, the white collagenous tunic of the eye, is the last stop of a signalling cascade that changes scleral composition, structure and biomechanics. Currently, there is no effective treatment for progressive myopia. A promising option for patients is a technique called crosslinking, which provides more mechanical strength to the weakened parts of the eye. Our aim is to arrest myopia with a scleral crosslinking treatment that does not require surgery.
This project is expected to involve tasks related to 1) optimization of the crosslinking in vitro, 2) characterization of the crosslinking in ex vivo animal and human eyes, 3) a pre-clinical trial in a myopic small animal. The exact tasks will be planned with the successful candidate.
Candidates should possess a Master’s degree in a relevant field (e.g., in the biomedical sciences) or have experience that demonstrates their affinity for this topic if they have a different educational background. Candidates who have done their Bachelor’s degree in a country where it is the norm to directly enter a PhD afterwards (e.g., USA) are welcome to apply without a Master’s, but must demonstrate significant independent research experience (e.g., a research thesis and/or extracurricular research).
The desired candidate has the following skills and/or interests:
We are looking for creative thinkers who are prepared to take on highly challenging aims. The project will be very interdisciplinary and will suit an ambitious candidate who likes a fast-paced environment. Excellent knowledge of scientific English for speaking, reading, and writing are required. Knowledge of Dutch is not required.
Fixed-term contract: 4 years.
Temporary employment for 4 years. The first year will be a probation period, after a positive assessment the position will be extended for another 3 years, which happens in the vast majority of cases.
For those unfamiliar with the Dutch PhD system, it is the norm to take four years to complete the laboratory work for the degree. It is a full-time research degree, with only optional course work. PhD candidates are paid a salary (€ 2.395,- gross per month in the first year up to € 3.061,- gross per month in the fourth year according to the PhD-candidate salary scale) and receive benefits along with an 8% holiday and 8.3% year-end bonus given annually. Candidates who need to relocate may be eligible for compensation.
The terms of employment of Maastricht University are set out in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO). Furthermore, local UM provisions also apply. For more information look at the website http://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl > Support > UM employees.
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.
The successful candidate will have a cross-disciplinary supervision team comprising Dr Mor Dickman (University Eye Clinic Maastricht) and Dr Vanessa LaPointe (MERLN Institute for Technology-Inspired Regenerative Medicine).
The candidate will mainly perform this research in the laboratory of Dr LaPointe at the MERLN Institute at Maastricht University. At MERLN, we are a collaborative, international, and interdisciplinary group with diverse expertise, including biomaterials science, chemistry, tissue engineering, and (stem) cell biology. We share newly renovated laboratory facilities with modern equipment. We have a long history as leaders in the field of tissue engineering and are particularly well-known for our orientation towards translational research. The expectation is that the candidate will also travel to Newcastle, Australia to perform an animal study in the group of Prof. Sally McFadden.
The University Eye Clinic/Maastricht University Medical Center+ is one the largest academic departments of ophthalmology in Europe. The department is built on a strong foundation of medical education, research, and clinical care. Our clinicians provide care ranging from the routine to the very complex. Scientific work is focused on corneal diseases, cataract, and glaucoma, and is driven by a mission to understand and discover the basis for these conditions, and to develop treatments with a direct impact for patients and society.
Maastricht University (UM)
Universiteitssingel 40, 6229 GR, Maastricht
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