Postdoctoral researcher on innovations and transitions towards animal-free safety assessment (0.8 - 1.0 FTE)

Postdoctoral researcher on innovations and transitions towards animal-free safety assessment (0.8 - 1.0 FTE)

Published Deadline Location
9 May 9 Jun Utrecht

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Are you interested in studying innovations and transitions in safety assessment of chemicals and pharmaceuticals? Join our team at the Copernicus Institute.

Job description

The Innovation Studies section of the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development is looking for an enthusiastic postdoctoral researcher who would like to join our team of researchers studying innovations and transitions in animal-free safety assessment of chemicals and pharmaceuticals. The position is advertised in close collaboration with the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) and part of the Virtual Human Platform for safety assessment (VHP4Safety) project: a transdisciplinary and multi-stakeholder collaboration that aims to spearhead the transition from animal-based testing to innovative animal-free safety assessment.

As a postdoctoral researcher, you will conduct research on how innovative approaches, such as those developed in the VHP4Safety project, can contribute to the transition towards animal-free safety assessment. Part of your research activities will consist of examining visions and missions of stakeholders on a future of safety assessment without the use of animals using forward-looking approaches (e.g. visioning, scenario  analysis, constructive technology assessment). In close collaboration with a stakeholder manager, you will connect insights from stakeholders to ongoing developments in the project through a dedicated multi-stakeholder process with a responsible research and innovation-inspired approach. You will also be encouraged to develop your own research ideas within the area of innovations and transitions towards animal-free safety assessment and on addressing challenges in the life-sciences sector on the interface of sustainability and health.

The VHP4Safety projects in which you will be embedded aims to contribute to the transition towards animal-free safety testing and assessment by integrating innovations in data science, human tissue culture models and innovation and transition management. The VHP4Safety consortium consists of leading scientific groups from Dutch universities, university medical centres, public health institutes and applied research organisations, with expertise spanning the technological, biological, chemical, medical and social sciences. A diverse group of regulatory, industrial and societal partners ensures stakeholder involvement throughout the entire safety assessment knowledge chain. The VHP4Safety research project is funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) ‘Dutch Research Agenda: Research on Routes by Consortia (NWA-ORC 1292.19.272).


Utrecht University


As a postdoctoral researcher, you will become part of an enthusiastic team of researchers working on animal-free safety assessment from a transition and innovation studies perspective at both the Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development and the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM). In addition to contributing to high-quality and impactful research the position offers opportunities for further professional and competence development focused on transdisciplinary skills, network-building, supervision and coordination, teaching (10% of your time) and grant proposal writing. The start date is expected to be between August 1 2023 and October 1 2023.

We are looking for candidates who have:
  • A PhD degree in the field of innovation studies, transition studies, risk governance or science and technology studies (STS), or alternatively a PhD in the life-sciences with proven interest in research on technology implementation, management or policy; 
  • Affinity with studying technology, innovation and transitions in the life-sciences domain and/or animal-free safety testing or new approach methodologies;
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English;
  • The ability to work in a self-propelled manner in a large transdisciplinary project, including a contribution to the coordination of research activities;
  • Affinity with qualitative research and stakeholder engagement. 

Conditions of employment

We offer a temporary position (0.8 - 1.0 FTE) for two and a half years in an international working environment. The gross salary - depending on previous qualifications and experience  - ranges between €3413 and €3974 (scale 10.3 - 10.7 according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year.

In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, professional development, (partly paid) parental leave, sports and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.


A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability. You can watch the Utrecht University Campus Tour to get an impression of our university.

Utrecht University's Faculty of Geosciences studies the Earth: from the Earth's core to its surface, including man's spatial and material utilisation of the Earth - always with a focus on sustainability and innovation. With 3,400 students (BSc and MSc) and 720 staff, the faculty is a strong and challenging organisation. The Faculty of Geosciences is organised in four Departments: Earth Sciences, Human Geography & Spatial Planning, Physical Geography, and Sustainable Development.

The Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development wants to have a positive impact on the transition to a sustainable society, which includes strengthening risk regulation regimes for chemicals and pharmaceuticals and reducing the need for the use of laboratory animals. We do this by developing excellent and relevant knowledge in interdisciplinary teams and by educating the change agents of the future. The Copernicus Institute has had an excellent research evaluation in 2021 and the institute takes pride in maintaining its leading position in national and international sustainability research, and by developing new, internationally oriented teaching programmes.

The Innovation Studies section, in which you will be embedded, hosts a large group of tenured staff (over 23.0 FTE) as well as many PhD students, postdocs and junior lecturers. It is run by Professors Ellen Moors, Koen Frenken and Flor Avelino. The group culture is open, supportive and collaborative.


  • Postdoc
  • Natural sciences
  • 28—40 hours per week
  • €3413—€3974 per month
  • Doctorate
  • 1209709



Princetonlaan 8a, 3584 CB, Utrecht

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