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The cornea undergoes constant renewal and regeneration to maintain a clear, uniform surface. Epithelial cells are continuously shed, requiring a steady supply of cells from a small population of limbal stem cells (LSCs) located at the edge of the cornea. In case of minor injury, the inherent regenerative capacity of LSCs can effectively repair the epithelium. However, if the limbus or LSCs are damaged following severe injury or congenital deficiency, the complete or partial loss of LSCs causes intense pain and chronic inflammation, allowing the opaque conjunctiva to grow over the cornea, and resulting in blindness in the most severe cases.
Our team was awarded a ZonMw (Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development) Open Competition grant to develop a new therapy to regenerate the corneal epithelium based on the transdifferentiation of other epithelial cells from the patient into LSC-like cells. This project is a collaboration with the laboratory of Dr Jo Zhou (Radboud UMC, Nijmegen), whose team will lead the mapping of the molecular blueprint for transdifferentiation.
The successful candidate will work on a strategy to induce and validate the successful transdifferentiation of epithelial cells to LSC-like cells. Candidates do not need to have specific experience in cornea research, but should have expertise in mammalian cell and molecular biology.
Candidates should possess a PhD in a relevant field or have experience that demonstrates their affinity for this topic if they have a different educational background.
The desired candidate has expertise in the following areas:
We are looking for creative thinkers who are prepared to take on highly challenging aims. The project will be very interdisciplinary and will suit an ambitious candidate who likes a fast-paced environment. Excellent knowledge of scientific English for speaking, reading, and writing are required. Knowledge of Dutch is not required.
Fixed-term contract: 24–30 months (depending on start date).
The selected applicant will undergo an evaluation after 1 year, after which a decision is made to prolong the contract or not.
The salary scale is based on years of experience, but the gross monthly pay for a postdoctoral researcher is typically in the range of €2,960–€4,670 gross per month, in accordance with scale 10 CLA NU (with full-time appointment). Employees receive benefits along with an 8% holiday and 8.3% year-end bonus given annually.
In addition to good primary employment conditions, UM also offers an attractive package of secondary employment conditions.
Candidates who need to relocate may be eligible for compensation.
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 www.maastrichtuniversity.nl > About UM > Working at UM.
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.
For more information, visit www.maastrichtuniversity.nl.
The successful candidate will have a cross-disciplinary supervision team comprising Dr Mor Dickman (University Eye Clinic Maastricht) and Dr Vanessa LaPointe (MERLN Institute for Technology-Inspired Regenerative Medicine). They will collaborate closely with the team of Dr Jo Zhou (Radboud UMC, Nijmegen).
The candidate will mainly perform this research in the laboratory of Dr LaPointe at the MERLN Institute at Maastricht University. At MERLN, we are a collaborative, international, and interdisciplinary group with diverse expertise, including biomaterials science, chemistry, tissue engineering, and (stem) cell biology. We share newly renovated laboratory facilities with modern 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.
The University Eye Clinic/Maastricht University Medical Center+ is one the largest academic departments of ophthalmology in Europe. The department is built on a strong foundation of medical education, research, and clinical care. Our clinicians provide care ranging from the routine to the very complex. Scientific work is focused on corneal diseases, cataract, and glaucoma, and is driven by a mission to understand and discover the basis for these conditions, and to develop treatments with a direct impact for patients and society.
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