PhD position – cell biologist In vitro modelling of early embryonic development using stem cell-derived organoids

PhD position – cell biologist In vitro modelling of early embryonic development using stem cell-derived organoids

Published Deadline Location
13 May 12 Jun Maastricht

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The MERLN Institute for Technology-Inspired Regenerative Medicine is seeking a PhD student to join our team in studying early embryonic development using stem cell-based embryo-like structures and organoids. This position is part of larger project in which these models are harnessed to assist in revealing developmental and morphogenetic processes involved in the formation of the early embryo and its organs, identifying new routes to counter fertility and reproduction problems, and explore the embryonic origin of malformations and diseases.
Research group and environment
The governing processes involved in unfolding the developmental plan of the embryo are still largely unknown. This is in great part due to the inaccessibility of embryos within the uterus. Recently, it was shown that stem cells, when incited, can unleash their remarkable self-organizing capacity to mimic the course of (pre- and post-implantation) embryonic development in a dish. Along these lines, we recently showed the formation mouse stem cell-based artificial blastocysts, termed blastoids (Rivron et al. Nature 2018; DOI: 10.1038/s41586-018-0051-0) and related structures that progress to the early post-implantation stage (Vrij et al. Expanding on this framework of knowledge, we seek to describe the potential of these embryo models to develop further and form organs.
This project is embedded within the MERLN Institute for Technology-Inspired Regenerative Medicine. Working at MERLN means you will join an international network of researchers from ~25 nationalities spanning multiple disciplines. We are a collaborative and interdisciplinary group with diverse expertise, including biomaterials, chemistry, tissue engineering, microfabrication, and cell biology. We work in newly renovated laboratory facilities with state-of-the-art 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:
We are located in Maastricht, which is itself a warm and welcoming city. The founding city of the EU is an international hub with inhabitants from around the world. English is widely spoken, which has helped create a unique and vibrant international community. Thanks to Maastricht's central position in Europe, it is only a short drive or train trip away from Belgium, Germany, France and the rest of the Netherlands. The city is family-friendly and possesses an international school and several excellent primary schools.

Job description


We are looking for a creative thinker with a strong background in cell/developmental biology who is prepared to take on highly challenging aims. We anticipate this collaborative and interdisciplinary project will suit an ambitious candidate who likes a fast-paced environment.

We encourage applications from individuals who are passionate to investigate processes involved in early embryonic development, with an emphasis on establishment of the early body plan including lineage specification and organogenesis.


Maastricht University (UM)



  • Strong background in stem cell or developmental biology, preferably with experience in pluripotent stem cell culture;
  • Creative and independent thinker who can deepen a research question;
  • Excellent communicator (oral and written English) and team worker;
  • Solid experience in experimental design;
  • Knowledge of Dutch is not required.


  • Using state-of-the art tools to answer questions related to early embryonic development and organogenesis in embryo models;
  • Design and rigorous execution of experimental work, data analysis and dissemination of results;
  • Using tailored cutting-edge microfabricated tools as culture platform for stem cell-based embryo models.

Conditions of employment

What we offer

Fixed-term contract of 1 + 3 years (evaluation after first year), full-time position. The salary will be set according PhD salary scale of the Collective Labor Agreement of the Dutch Universities (CAO-NU); starting in first year with € 2.443 gross per month and increasing to € 3.122 (not yet taken into account yearly future rises) gross per month in fourth year. On top of this, there is an 8% holiday and an 8.3% year-end allowance.

Candidates who would need to relocate may be eligible for compensation. Employees relocating from abroad may be eligible for the Dutch `30% ruling', a tax advantage which results in a significantly higher net salary. 

A fully resourced and funded research environment, office space fostering interaction between multi-disciplinary researchers and engineers.

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 > About UM > Working at UM.


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 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.
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MERLN Institute

MERLN Institute for Technology-Inspired Regenerative Medicine

Within the MERLN Institute for Technology-Inspired Regenerative Medicine you work in a multi-disciplined and highly collaborative environment that welcomes researchers and engineers from all backgrounds. MERLN activities operate at the interface of biology and engineering and aim to maximise outreach at the level of public involvement, development, and the commercialisation of research. MERLN’s vision is based on sharing knowledge, infrastructure, and ambition. Research at MERLN is focused on developing novel and challenging technologies to advance the field of tissue and organ repair and regeneration.


  • PhD
  • Health
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2443—€3122 per month
  • University graduate
  • AT2022.207


Maastricht University (UM)

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Universiteitssingel 40, 6229 ER, Maastricht

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