PhD-student in synapse biology

PhD-student in synapse biology

Published Deadline Location
13 Dec 15 Jan Amsterdam

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The Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research in Amsterdam (see ) is seeking applications for a PhD-student in synapse biology (38h/wk, 1 + 3 years)

Job description

You will be working as a PhD student on the following project:

Analysis and annotation of synaptic genes and synaptic functions
Synapses are the computational units of the brain and synaptic dysregulation is central to many brain disorders ('synaptopathies'), including mental retardation and autism. This project aims to accurately define protein interactions relevant to synaptic information processing and synaptopathies using SynGO[1] (, a knowledge base on synaptic genes, built together with the Broad Institute in Boston. SynGO is supported by expert labs around the world. Newly assembled data will form the basis for your research projects, e.g. to define protein-protein interaction networks in the synapse relevant for function and dysfunction, such as in synaptopathies (e.g. autism) and define causality models for synaptic processes. Experiments on living neurons and brain tissue will be combined with in silico approaches in an iterative cycle.

The project is supported by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative (SFARI). [1] Koopmans et al. (2019) Neuron 103, p217
Your duties
As a PhD student your main tasks and responsibilities are:
  • In silico analysis of different types of synaptic protein interaction data
  • Validation of protein-protein interaction in cellular and rodent models as well as in human brain
  • Localization and functional studies of synaptic proteins in living neurons and brain tissue
  • Add content to SynGO knowledgebase and guide researchers in the field to do so
  • Publish analyses in the best peer-reviewed journals and provide progress reports to funding sources


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


We are looking for a student with the following qualifications:
  • a master degree in biomedical sciences with neuroscience specialization, or similar degree
  • hands-on experience with molecular and cellular neuroscience, especially synapse biology is an advantage
  • hands-on experience with bioinformatics (preferably R)
  • a strong motivation to pursue a career in science

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 year.

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,434 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,111 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • contribution to commuting expenses


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor - from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam's Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.

About the Center for Neurogenomics
The Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research in Amsterdam (see participates in the Neuroscience Graduate School Amsterdam-Rotterdam (see


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • €2434—€3111 per month
  • Doctorate
  • 8778


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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De Boelelaan 1105, 1081HV, Amsterdam

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