PhD position: Molecular interactions in astrocyte-synapse control of memory

PhD position: Molecular interactions in astrocyte-synapse control of memory

Published Deadline Location
1 Mar 7 Apr Amsterdam

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A PhD position is available at the Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research ( ) Amsterdam, on an NWO-funded project in the team of Mark Verheijen (Glial Regulated Neuronal Plasticity)

Job description

We are looking for a candidate for a 4 years PhD project to be carried out at the Department of Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology (MCN). Recent studies have shown that in addition to neurons, astrocytes play a major role in synaptic function. Whereas hundreds of neuronal synaptic proteins have been identified, and functional insight into their role in synaptic transmission is increasing, it is largely unknown which astrocyte proteins are involved in physical interaction with synapses and how they execute control over synaptic function. The overall aim of the project is to obtain in-depth insight into the molecular mechanism that controls synaptic function in memory circuitry by dynamically changing astrocyte-synapse interactions.

The candidate will identify relevant astrocyte-neuron protein interactions and perform manipulation of these proteins to study their structural and functional interaction. The studies will involve biomolecular analysis and imaging of protein-protein interactions in mice, in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, experiments will involve stereotactic surgeries to virally target astrocytes in specific brain regions implicated in memory. As such, we are looking for a candidate with an interest in molecular and cellular neuroscience. Experience with proteomic and/or biomolecular techniques is an advantage.


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


  • MSc degree in neuroscience or biomolecular science (or equivalent)
  • Research experience in molecular and cellular biology
  • Fluent in English (spoken and written)

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 year.

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,541 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,247 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 3 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor - from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam's Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to more than 11,000 students.

The Molecular and Cellular Neurobiology (MCN) lab at the CNCR
At the CNCR, 150 people work closely together in defining how in essence simple molecular and cellular processes shape the emergent complexity of the brain. We have the specific ambition to unravel the mechanisms by which brain cells and circuitry act both in health and disease and aim to translate mechanistic knowledge into understanding of (dys)function of the human brain. Our neuroscience research area covers analysis over many spatial levels, from genes to the intact organism, and over a large temporal scale, from microsecond molecular events to the years of functioning of the human brain. MCN is one out of four labs at the CNCR, currently has 30 members and is headed by Prof. Guus Smit.


  • PhD
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • 14924


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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De Boelelaan 1105, 1081HV, Amsterdam

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