PhD position in the engineering of Tumor-on-a-Chip devices

PhD position in the engineering of Tumor-on-a-Chip devices

Published Deadline Location
16 Jan 1 Feb Delft

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We are seeking a highly motivated Ph.D. student with an an interest in cross-disciplinary research to join our "living soft matter group" at TU Delft.

Job description

  1. Are you inspired by the potential to use personalized “tumor-on-a-chip” and biophysical tools for the assessment of cancer?
  2. Are you fascinated by using microfluidics to unravel the mechanism of cancer cell invasion?
  3. Are you passionate to develop a new personalized cancer-on-a-chip for point-of-care cancer diagnostic devices?
  4. Are you eager to work in a high-end collaborative and interdisciplinary research environment related to cancer treatment?
  5. Are you our next enthusiastic and talented researcher in unraveling the mechanisms of cancer invasion?

Metastasis, the spread and invasion of tumor cells into the body’s healthy tissues is responsible for over 90% of cancer-related deaths. The metastatic process requires the coordinated migration of invasive tumor cells into the surrounding complex tumor microenvironment. Unfortunately, the underlying mechanisms behind cancer invasion within the tumor microenvironment remain elusive.  Both biophysical and chemical cues play crucial roles in steering cancer cell migration (via adjusting the direction, speed and migration modes of cancer cells under different physical conditions). Recently, 3D microfluidics models have been developed to recapitulate the complexity of the tumor microenvironment under physiological conditions (close to in vivo conditions).

In this project, you will develop a novel tumor-on-a-chip model to unravel the underlying migration mechanisms adopted by cancer cells in a physiologically relevant microenvironment. You will answer fundamental questions regarding 1) the impact of biophysical and cellular cues on dynamic cancer cell migration, 2) the interaction between tumor cells and tumor microenvironment, including the interplay with cancer-associated fibroblast/immune systems, and 3) the design of a new generation of 3D microfluidics for cell invasion studies. You will use a range of advanced biophysical tools (e.g. optical tweezers, AFM, confocal microscopy), and microfluidics manufacturing tools to characterize the cancer cell migration under different physiological conditions. The scope of the project will be within the framework of our ERC-COG research project, aiming to understand how different physical and chemical factors regulate cell invasion within a complex tumor microenvironment, with a focus on cancer metastasis. You will have the opportunity to work in a cutting-edge, fast-paced research environment, interact with researchers from many different disciplines, learn about fundamental biophysical and biological processes in solid tumors, and interact with world-class collaborators. This highly interdisciplinary project is a collaboration between the Boukany Lab at the Chemical Engineering Department at TU Delft and Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC) and Erasmus University Medical Center (Erasmus MC).     


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)


We are looking for candidates that meet the following criteria:

  • Master's degree in a relevant field such as chemical engineering, physics, electrical engineering, biophysics, bioengineering, materials science or similar;
  • Prior experience with microfluidics, fluorescence imaging, confocal imaging, electroporation or mammalian cell culture is highly desirable;
  • Creative, open-minded and proactive;
  • Excellent experimental and analytical skills;
  • Good team player;
  • Good English communication and writing skills.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years (1,5 year initial + 2,5 year after go/no-go evaluation).

A start date of April 2023 (negotiable).

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.


Delft University of Technology

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!


Faculty Applied Sciences

With more than 1,000 employees, including 135 pioneering principal investigators, as well as a population of about 3,400 passionate students, the Faculty of Applied Sciences is an inspiring scientific ecosystem. Focusing on key enabling technologies, such as quantum- and nanotechnology, photonics, biotechnology, synthetic biology and materials for energy storage and conversion, our faculty aims to provide solutions to important problems of the 21st century. To that end, we train students in broad Bachelor's and specialist Master's programmes with a strong research component. Our scientists conduct ground-breaking fundamental and applied research in the fields of Life and Health Science & Technology, Nanoscience, Chemical Engineering, Radiation Science & Technology, and Engineering Physics. We are also training the next generation of high school teachers and science communicators.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Applied Sciences.


  • PhD
  • Engineering
  • max. 40 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • TUD03359


Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)

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Mekelweg 2, 2628 CD, Delft

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