PhD on Calcification mechanisms in in-situ heart valve tissue engineering

PhD on Calcification mechanisms in in-situ heart valve tissue engineering

Published Deadline Location
20 Mar 31 May Eindhoven

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Job description

  • Are you fascinated by the potential of synthetic implants that transform into living heart valves by the body itself?
  • Are you intrigued by understanding the processes of in-situ heart valve tissue engineering?
  • And motivated to find engineering solutions to prevent valve failure due to calcification?
  • Are you eager to contribute to better and sustainable healthcare at the interface of engineering and biology?
  • Are you passionate about inspiring and mentoring students and working in a high-end collaborative and interdisciplinary research environment?
  • Are you our next PhD candidate in materials-driven tissue regeneration?

Short Description

The Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) is seeking a highly-talented, ambitious and passionate PhD candidate to investigate the risks and mechanisms of calcification of in-situ tissue engineered heart valves. We aim to understand what is happening when in-situ tissue engineered heart valve implants calcify and why this happens. The answers will teach us how to optimize the design of our implants to prevent calcification. As the successful candidate, the research that you will carry out with us will be part of wider efforts aiming at in situ regeneration of living tissues under the umbrella of the national Materials-Driven Regeneration (MDR) Gravitation Program.

Job Description

In-situ tissue engineering (TE) of heart valves has rapidly progressed over the past two decades as it prospects a great alternative to autologous, xenografted, and non-biological materials for valve replacements. In this approach, a degradable synthetic valve replacement is implanted at the site of a diseased, degenerated, or malformed valve, where it gradually remodels into a viable, living tissue. To date, outstanding challenges prevent a safe clinical translation of this approach, one of them being the formation of calcification nodules within the grafts. Calcification formation is commonly found in preclinical evaluations of in-situ tissue engineered scaffolds. Albeit the exact causes of calcification in these scaffolds, relevant to prevent this drawback, are unknown, previous studies suggest roles for the immuneresponse to the scaffold and hemodynamic loading of the scaffold.

You will generate unprecedented experimental data to unravel the driving mechanisms of calcification within in-situ tissue engineered constructs, with the goal to prevent calcification in these constructs. Your investigations will combine knowledge from the fields of biological bone mineralization and in-vivo pathological calcification of valves with data from calcification in in-situ tissue engineered constructs obtained from explanted grafts from previous in vivo studies, as well as data from sophisticated in vitro experiments that mimic the in vivo cell-matrix environment in the valve. To that end, your research will include a selection of techniques including: i) in vitro (co-)cultures using primary human cells as well as advanced analytical methods for cellular phenotyping, such as RNA-sequencing, ii) scaffold fabrication and tissue culture using those scaffolds, iii) sophiscated tissue analysis, including advanced microscopy, raman spectroscopy, and image analysis. You are expected to write a doctoral thesis, and publish your research results in scientific journals. A small part of your doctoral position will involve teaching in courses as well as the supervision of students at the bachelor's and master's levels offered by the group. Also, an educational and professional development program will be offered to you.


You will be embedded in a highly inspiring research environment, both socially and professionally, which facilitates access to high-end research facilities, as well as fosters interdisciplinary collaborations. You will be an integral member of the Soft Tissue Engineering and Mechanobiology (STEM) group of the Department Biomedical Engineering, and specifically operate at the interface of the teams led by prof Carlijn Bouten (Cell-Matrix Interactions for Cardiovascular Tissue Regeneration) and dr Anthal Smits (ImmunoRegeneration) at the Department of Biomedical Engineering at TU/e.

Your project is part of the Materials-Driven Regeneration (MDR) Research Center ( The MDR Research Center is a partnership between Eindhoven University of Technology, Maastricht University and Utrecht University, University Medical Center Utrecht and the Hubrecht Institute. This consortium was brought together to advance tissue and organ regeneration approaches with the use of instructive biomaterials. The MDR Research Center was awarded a 18.8 M€ grant in May 2017 by the ministry of education, culture and science of The Netherlands in the framework of the Gravitation program. The interdisciplinary team of researchers within the MDR consortium aims to focus on the research and development of new, intelligent materials that stimulate the regeneration of damaged or diseased tissues and organs. In order to strengthen our research center, we are looking forward to meet highly motivated and talented people that would like to contribute in the interesting yet complex multidisciplinary area of Materials-Driven Regeneration. We stimulate and foster cross-institutional collaborations as part of the project.


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)


  • A master's degree (or an equivalent university degree) in Biomedical Engineering, Biomedical Sciences, Materials Sciences, or comparable discipline.
  • Experience with cell and tissue culture is a must. Competencies with mechanobiology, immunology, bioreactors, and biomaterials, and preclinical research will be considered as a relevant added value.
  • A research-oriented attitude.
  • Ability to effectively communicate scientific ideas, foster collaborations and have a capability for independent thinking.
  • Ability to work independently within a multidisciplinary team with researchers at various academic levels.
  • Fluent in spoken and written English (C1 level).

Conditions of employment

You will have a meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university, in an interdisciplinary setting and within an international network. You will work on a beautiful, green campus within walking distance of the central train station. In addition, we will offer you:
  • A full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation after one year.
  • To support and mentor you during your PhD and to prepare you for the rest of your career, you will have free access to a personal development program for PhD students (PROOF program).
  • A gross monthly salary and benefits in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities, scale P (min. €2.541,- , max. € 3.247,-).
  • An annual holiday allowance of 8%, plus a year-end allowance of 8.3% of the annual salary.
  • High-quality training programs and other support to grow into a self-aware, autonomous scientific researcher. At TU/e we will challenge you to take charge of your own learning process.
  • An excellent technical infrastructure, on-campus children's day care and sports facilities.
  • A broad package of fringe benefits, including allowance for commuting and moving expenses.
  • A Staff Immigration Team and a tax compensation scheme (the 30% facility) for international candidates.


  • PhD
  • Health
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • V50.6485


Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e)

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De Rondom 70, 5612 AP, Eindhoven

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