Post-doc: Universal (cellular) immunity to influenza virus in animal models RIVM | RIVM

Post-doc: Universal (cellular) immunity to influenza virus in animal models RIVM | RIVM

Published Deadline Location
17 Jun 15 Jul Bilthoven

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Are you excited to understand how the immune system can protect against rapidly adapting pathogens, like influenza virus?

Job description

Are you ambitious to perform research to come to an ideal immune profile for so-called universal influenza vaccines and as such contribute to better pandemic preparedness? Do you want to apply innovative methodologies and state of the art preclinical models? Then this is a postdoc position for you!

Goal of the function

Influenza virus is notorious for changing continuously every season and to cause occasional pandemic outbreaks. Therefore, conserved epitopes within the influenza virus are attractive targets for novel vaccine concepts to protect against escape mutants or new variants. These epitopes may elicit T-cell or antibody responses that reduce disease and transmission. In the recent years, some promising breakthroughs have been made that underline the potency of various vaccine concepts. However, the knowledge on their working mechanism is still limited, especially considering real world conditions, like e.g. infection history and immune imprinting.

This project aims to get a better understanding on what type of immunity is required to protect against multiple influenza subtypes where the focus is on cellular immunity. Important factors that play a role in the immunity are, amongst others:

Cross-reactivity and durability, location (e.g. lung T resident memory cells), history of previous exposures to influenza viruses and immune imprinting at young age. In addition, we work in close collaboration with a project that investigates the influence of the microbiome on the immune response.

To address the aim, you will investigate the immune response after infection and/or vaccination in the ferret model and use challenge models to study the protective capacity of the elicited response. Ferrets are used as they best represent influenza disease in humans. When required, you may use (transgenic) mouse models for a deeper understanding of the immune response. Through external collaborations, vaccine concepts including mRNA and live attenuated influenza vaccines are available for the induction of different immune responses. For translational purposes of preclinical findings you may deploy human clinical material. Although, the ability to measure cellular immunity in the ferret model has advanced recently, further improvement is required and new reagents, assays and techniques need to be developed in parallel.

In this role you will:

  • Co-design, initiate, organize and guide preclinical studies in mainly ferrets, but also mice.
  • Further develop the ferret model for the goal of the project.
  • Work with and instruct a team of technicians and biotechnicians.
  • Perform experiments under BSL-2 and BSL-3 conditions.
  • Perform assays to analyse the immune response (ELISPOT, flow cytometry, cell sort, RNAseq, HI-assay and ELISA’s) but also perform virological assays.
  • Analyse and interpret data and publish in peer-reviewed journals and present the results in the institute and at (inter)national conferences.
  • Work together in a team of scientists that focus on immunity to respiratory infections in preclinical models and collaborate with related projects within the centre of IIV.

Unique to this job

We are an international, dynamic, highly motivated team of scientists that performs research for the benefit of Public Health. We combine expertise in immunology, virology and preclinical research and believe in the strength of collaboration and working together as a team. We have multiple external collaborations through which we have access to various vaccine platforms. The centre for IIV is in the possession of multiple state of the art flow cytometers, a SORT, various next generation sequencing machines and a BSL-3 isolator laboratory. In addition, you will have access to a unique ferret model that we advanced for analysing (local) cellular immune responses.

De zorg voor morgen begint vandaag

Are you interested in the Post-doc position on Universal (cellular) immunity to influenza virus in animal models? Please send your application to Dr. Jørgen de Jonge (department head IIM and project leader) via the application button below. If you have any questions on this vacancy, please contact Dr. Jørgen de Jonge +31(6) 311 423 89.




We are looking for a candidate with:

  • A strong and enthusiastic motivation for a postdoc position in translational public health research, with interest in infectious diseases and vaccination.
  • A PhD in viro-immunology.
  • Ample experience with preclinical models and immunological techniques (e.g. ELISPOT and flow cytometry).
  • Experience with RNAseq and data analysis with R is a pre.
  • Excellent skills in English (speech and writing).
  • A profile of a team player, enthusiastic and positive attitude and you are respectful towards colleagues and collaborators.
  • Willing to work long days during preclinical experiments.
  • A responsible attitude and open communication style, which is of great importance in a BSL3 environment.

Here lies your strength:

  1. Result-oriented
  2. Analytical mind-set
  3. Team player
  4. Creative
  5. Organised

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 24 maanden met mogelijke verlenging van 12 maanden.


Salaris­niveau: schaal 10

Maand­salaris: Min €2.811 – Max. €4.519 (bruto)

Dienst­verband: Arbeidsovereenkomst voor bepaalde tijd

Contract­duur: 24 maanden met mogelijke verlenging van 12 maanden

Maximaal aantal uren per week: 36



The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) protects and promotes public health and consumer safety, and we help to protect the quality of the environment. We’ve done so for more than a hundred years and RIVM has become a knowledge institute that is at the heart of society. RIVM carries out independent research and provides the government with trusted policy advice regarding health and the environment. We deal with issues concerning infectious diseases, vaccinations, population studies, lifestyle, nutrition, drugs, the environment, sustainability and safety. We do this through research, advice, direction or implementation. RIVM annually produces and publishes numerous reports.


Center for Immunology of Infectious Diseases

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 and safety 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 specializing in immunology, microbiology, epidemiology and outbreak control of infectious diseases.

The department for Immune mechanisms – Immunological Models (IIM) is one of the four departments within the center for IIV. IMM focuses on a deeper understanding of the immune responses induced by infection or vaccination   and their contribution to protection by using a variety of immunological models ultimately to support the mission of the center for IIV.


  • Research, development, innovation; Postdoc; Management; Technical and laboratory
  • Health
  • max. 36 hours per week
  • €2811—€4519 per month
  • Doctorate
  • AT 303



Antonie van Leeuwenhoeklaan 9, 3721 MA, Bilthoven

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