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Type 2 diabetes is a severe chronic disease urgently needing new treatment options. Within our translational research group (www.dmrg.nl), embedded in the department of Nutrition and Movement Sciences at Maastricht University, we perform human clinical and experimental trials to unravel the etiology of type 2 diabetes. We have special interest in human skeletal muscle metabolism and we apply whole-body, tissue and cellular approaches to study mechanisms that lead to the development of skeletal muscle insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes mellitus. To this end, Maastricht University has unique facilities to perform human translational studies (Metabolic Research Unit Maastricht, MRUM), which includes clamp facilities, magnetic resonance spectroscopy and whole body respiration chambers.
Project description: Recently, our 24-hour culture has been identified as another lifestyle factor that can cause type 2 diabetes (T2D). Technological and societal advances, such as artificial lighting and digital screens – leading to light exposure that is too dim during the day and too bright during the evening –, shift work, time zone transfers, variable sleep timing and round-the-clock food availability disrupt our intrinsic and evolutionarily preserved 24-hour rhythms resulting in a desynchronization between light cues and behavior cues to our circadian system. This mistiming of cues, also referred to as circadian misalignment is now thought to be a major contributor to the current metabolic health crisis with increasing rates of obesity and T2D.
In this context, we have previously demonstrated a significant diurnal rhythmicity in whole body resting energy expenditure, substrate selection and mitochondrial respiration in healthy young men (van Moorsel et al. Mol Metab, 2016). Recently, we found that this diurnal oscillation in mitochondrial respiration and substrate oxidation is completely absent in pre-diabetes volunteers (Wefers et al. Mol Metab, 2020, underscoring the relevance of this 24h rhythmicity in metabolism.
We believe that appropriate timing of behavioural interventions, to enhance daily rhythmicity of the circadian timing system, holds great promise to improve metabolic health and glucose homeostasis and may be a novel strategy in the prevention and treatment of T2D. In the current project, we aim to improve 24-hour rhythmicity of metabolism in insulin resistant men and women by appropriate timing of a) exercise and b) food intake and to assess its effect on metabolic health.
We are looking for a highly self-motivated Msc student with a degree in Medicine or Biomedical Sciences who is looking for an ambitious PhD project. The PhD student will be involved in relatively small-scale human intervention trials, in which she/he will
perform a thorough characterization of 24h muscle metabolism and insulin sensitivity after timed food intake and timed exercise (training). For this, we will make use of techniques such as indirect calorimetry, hyperinsulinemic-euglycemic clamps and magnetic resonance spectroscopy. In addition, we will take muscle biopsies to allow for more in-depth molecular analyses. A strong (international) research group and -network is available to aid in the execution of the project and to receive additional training. Due to its 'round-the-clock' nature, the project is not compatible with a 9-to-5 mentality and candidates should be willing to work outside regular office hours.
MSc in Medicine, Biomedical Sciences or equivalent, with demonstrated affinity and/or experience with human intervention research. A degree as medical doctor (MD) is a strong advantage. Good communication and organizational skills are required as well as qualifications to work in a team. Due to interaction with test subjects, mastering the Dutch language is a prerequisite (or needs to be acquired).
Fixed-term contract: 1+3 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.
Your salary would be € 2.443,- gross per month in the first year up to € 3.122,- gross per month in the fourth year according to the PhD-candidate salary scale. An 8% holiday and an 8.3% year-end allowance is also provided. Each year an evaluation will take place.
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 www.maastrichtuniversity.nl > About UM > Working at UM.
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 22,000 students and 5,000 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.
For more information, visit www.maastrichtuniversity.nl.
Maastricht University (UM)
Universiteitssingel 50, 6229 ER, Maastricht
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