PhD-student SARS-CoV-2 T-cell immunity (RIVM)

PhD-student SARS-CoV-2 T-cell immunity (RIVM)

Published Deadline Location
11 May 30 May Bilthoven

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Are you an enthusiastic and ambitious PhD candidate interested in unraveling protective T-cell immunity against SARS-CoV-2? And are you interested in applying state-of-the-art techniques? Then we have a PhD position available for you!

Job description

T cells are essential players in the protection against respiratory viral infections. COVID-19 vaccination elicits, besides neutralizing antibody responses, also specific memory T-cell populations against SARS-CoV-2. Importantly, these cells are thought to be responsible for protection against developing severe COVID-19 and seem less susceptible for escape mutations than antibody responses. In this project, we will gain more insight on what defines an optimal T-cell response in clinical COVID-19 vaccination cohorts using various (single cell) multi-omics approaches.

We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD candidate with a strong interest in cellular immunology in the context of infectious diseases and affinity with high-dimensional data analysis. In your PhD track you will utilize methodology to identify and characterize SARS-CoV-2-specific T-cells and relate findings to the broader immune profile of study-participants. Techniques will include cell sorting (MACS, FACS), cell culturing, immunological assays to measure cytokine secretion , and several (single-cell) omics approaches such as high-dimensional flow cytometry (functional/phenotyping), RNA sequencing (transcriptomics), ATAC sequencing (epigenomics) and data analysis in R. You will present the results of your research at (inter)national conferences and meetings. In parallel, you will follow a curriculum in a PhD graduate school. Finally, you will write and defend a dissertation comprising three to five scientific manuscripts to be published in international peer-reviewed journals.




We are looking for a candidate with:

  • A (research) master in biomedical sciences or life sciences
  • A strong and enthusiastic motivation for a PhD track in public health research
  • Interest in immunology with respect to infectious diseases and vaccination
  • Affinity to cellular immunology, preferably T-cell immunology
  • An analytical mind-set and independent work attitude
  • Skilled in English (speech and writing)
  • Creative-thinking skills who likes to contribute to academic discussions
  • A profile of a team player with excellent communication skills
  • Experience with multi-omics approaches (flow cytometry, (single-cell) RNAseq) and data analysis in R is a pre.


  • Work accurately
  • Analyze
  • Creativity
  • Perseverance
  • Flexibility
  • Planning and organizing

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: The appointment is temporary for the duration of 4 years.

  • The salary corresponds to the OIO salary scale according to the working conditions.
  • You will be employed on the basis of a 36-hour week. The appointment is temporary for the duration of 4 years. Your salary: € 2.675,- gross per month (based on 36 hours a week) in the first year, ascending to € 3.344,- gross per month in the fourth year .
  • In addition the RIVM has many attractive employee-conditions, such as personal development, study facilities, an individual employee conditions choice system (IKB) and a commuter’s allowance (based on public transport).


Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM)

RIVM: professional, reliable, and independent

As the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), we are a professional, reliable and independent advisor to the government, professionals and private citizens. Our goal is a healthy population in a sustainable, safe and healthy living environment. We monitor health, diseases, the quality of nature and the living environment. To this end, we conduct research and gather knowledge for accessible information and usable advice. RIVM provides good birth screening, combats infectious diseases and plays a central role in the National Immunisation Programme and population screening. We investigate what is needed for good care, a healthy lifestyle, safe products and a safe and healthy living environment. We also contribute to preventing, combating and managing incidents and crises.

All our advice, reports, fact sheets and publications are produced by our 2100 or so staff from our head office in Bilthoven and - as from 2023 - from a beautiful new building at the Utrecht Science Park . Our work is guided by the issues of today and tomorrow – from our position at the heart of society. We are proud of our organisation, which offers a warm welcome to everyone. As a governmental knowledge institute we want to be a reflection of society. In addition to talent, experience and motivation, aspects of identity such as age, orientation, cultural background or disability also make our organisation richer, more innovative and more fun. With such diverse backgrounds, perspectives and insights, we are all working to achieve even better results!

RIVM – committed to health and sustainability


Immunology of Infectious Diseases and Vaccines (IIV)

More information about your future department.

The center for Immunology of Infectious Diseases and Vaccines (IIV) at RIVM is the knowledge center of the government in the field of immunology of infectious diseases and vaccines. The core mission of this center is to provide information and advice about effectiveness of vaccines, vaccination strategies and immune responses against infectious diseases to parties within the government and to the general public. In support of this task, research performed at IIV is focused on optimization of the effectiveness of current and future vaccination programs, immunosurveillance, age-related efficacy of the immune responses and correlates of protection. In this work the center collaborates intensively with other RIVM knowledge centers and national and international collaborators specialized in immunology, microbiology, epidemiology and outbreak control of infectious diseases.

Within the center IIV, the department Immune Mechanisms – Correlate of Protection (IMC) aims to gain insight in the immune mechanisms that protect us against disease caused by human pathogens. The research is focused on characterizing cellular immune responses in detail, both the innate arm, as well as the adaptive arm. In various research projects we aim to obtain biomarkers or immune profiles that correlate to protection against disease.


  • PhD; Research, development, innovation; Technical and laboratory
  • Health
  • max. 36 hours per week
  • €2675—€3343 per month
  • University graduate
  • 182



Antonie van Leeuwenhoeklaan 9, 3721 MA, Bilthoven

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