PhD Candidate Computational modeling of cAMP signaling in the context of Alzheimer’s disease.

PhD Candidate Computational modeling of cAMP signaling in the context of Alzheimer’s disease.

Published Deadline Location
22 Jun 16 Jul Maastricht

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Job description

The School for Mental Health and Neuroscience (MHeNs) and the Institute for Technology-inspired Regenerative Medicine (MERLN) at Maastricht University in the Netherlands together with the BIOMED institute at Hasselt University in Belgium invite applications for a PhD position. The PhD student will perform cutting-edge research in computational modeling methods applied to cAMP signaling in the context of Alzheimer’s disease.

Nearly 50 million people worldwide suffer from Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the leading cause of dementia. The progression of AD coincides with neurodegeneration and memory loss. Only five treatments have been approved for AD therapy, all of which have limited efficacy and severe side effects, including nausea, vomiting, and even swelling of the brain. Thus, alternative drug targets within neuronal cells should be considered. At the subcellular level, we have previously shown that the second messenger cyclic adenosine monophosphate (cAMP) signaling is important to consolidate information into memory. In addition, an association was found between increased phosphodiesterase 4D (PDE4D) expression, a specific cAMPdegrading
enzyme, in the brain and greater decline of memory and thinking skills in AD, making PDEs promising drug targets. This research project aims to use an integrated in silico-in vitro methodology to identify the key PDE4 isoforms to target and improve current AD therapies.

Project description:

  • Computational modeling of cAMP signaling
  • Parameter optimization and sensitivity analysis
  • Analysis and integration of various in vitro/in vivo data for model calibration
  • Acquiring in vitro data to confirm model predictions (e.g. cell culture and ELISA)

What we offer:

  • Computational ecosystem at Maastricht University: Institute for Data Science (IDS), Department of Knowledge Engineering (DKE) and Maastricht Centre for Systems Biology (MacsBio)
  • Excellent computational and experimental facilities to validate the in silico analyses and predictions in vitro/in vivo
  • Interdisciplinary research environment within MERLN, MHeNS and BIOMED (Hasselt)


Maastricht University (UM)


Requirements and key expertise

  • Masters degree in bioengineering, biomedical engineering, biomedical sciences, biophysics, neurosciences or equivalent
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently as well as in a team
  • Good programming skills (for example Comsol, Matlab, Python, R, VCell)
  • Experience with molecular biology lab skills (for example cell culture, qPCR, Western Blot)
  • A personality characterized by communicative, collaborative, and organizational skills
  • Good oral and written English communication

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 + 3 years.

As a PhD Candidate at the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, you will be employed by the most international university of the Netherlands, located in the beautiful city of Maastricht. In addition, we offer you:

  • Good employment conditions. The position is in grated in scale P according to the UFO profile PhD Candiate, with corresponding salary ranging from € 2.541 to € 3.247 gross per month (based on a full-time employment of 38 hours per week). In addition to the monthly salary, an 8.0% holiday allowance and an 8.3% year-end bonus are applicable.
  • An employment contract for a period of 12 months with a scope of 1.0 FTE. Upon a positive evaluation, an extension of 3 years will follow.
  • As a holder of the 'Family-friendly University' quality mark, we offer flexible working hours and the possibility to work partly from home if the nature of your position allows it. You will receive a monthly commuting and internet allowance for this. If you work full-time, you will be entitled to 29 vacation days and 4 additional public holidays per year, namely carnival Monday, carnival Tuesday, Good Friday, and Liberation Day. If you choose to accumulate compensation hours, an additional 12 days will be added. Furthermore, you can personalize your employment conditions through a collective labor agreement (CAO) choice model.
  • As Maastricht University, we offer various other excellent secondary employment conditions. These include a good pension scheme with the ABP and the opportunity for UM employees to participate in company fitness and make use of the extensive sports facilities that we also offer to our students.
  • Last but certainly not least, we provide the space and facilities for your personal and professional development. We facilitate this by offering a wide range of training programs and supporting various well-established initiatives such as 'acknowledge and appreciate'.

The terms of employment at Maastricht University are largely set out in the Collective Bargaining Agreement of Dutch Universities. In addition, local provisions specific to UM apply. For more information, Click here


Maastricht University

Why work at Maastricht University?

At Maastricht University (UM), everything revolves around the future. The future of our students, as we work to equip them with a solid, broad-based foundation for the rest of their lives. And the future of society, as we seek solutions through our research to issues from all around the world. Our six faculties combined provide a comprehensive package of study programmes and research.  

In our teaching, we use the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) method. Students work in small groups, looking for solutions to problems themselves. By discussing issues and working together to draw conclusions, formulate answers and present them to their peers, students develop essential skills for their future careers.

With over 22,300 students and more than 5,000 employees from all over the world, UM is home to a vibrant and inspiring international community.

Are you drawn to an international setting focused on education, science and scholarship? Are you keen to contribute however your skills and qualities allow? Our door is open to you! As a young European university, we value your talent and look forward to creating the future together.

Click here for more information about UM.



Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences

At the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML), everything revolves around healthy living. Our research and education focuses not only on recovery, but also on prevention, health maintenance and health promotion. Our mission is to use our knowledge and expertise to bring about healthy lives for individuals and for society as a whole. FHML works closely in education, research and healthcare provision with the Maastricht academic hospital, together with which it forms the Maastricht University Medical Centre (MUMC+).

The largest faculty at Maastricht University, FHML is home to an international community of staff and students. We offer a wide range of Dutch- and English-taught bachelor’s and master’s programmes, using innovative educational concepts and building bridges to practice.

Research at FHML is multidisciplinary and revolves around select, topical themes. It encompasses the full spectrum, from fundamental research aiming to gain new insights to research whose results translate directly into concrete applications and innovations. The various research programmes are organised into our six graduate schools and two research institutes.

School for Mental Health and Neuroscience
The successful candidate will be a member of the division for Translational Neuroscience in the School of Mental Health and Neuroscience (MHeNs). This division has state-of-the-art laboratories for electrophysiology, microscopy, molecular biology, as well as biochemistry laboratories for tissue processing, cell culturing, immunohistochemistry, proteomics and genomics. Parts of the in vitro work of this joint initiative will be performed here. MHeNs has more than 300 PhD students and around 100 faculty members

MERLN Institute for Technology-inspired Regenerative Medicine 
The project is co-hosted by the department of Cell Biology-Inspired Tissue Engineering (cBITE) at the MERLN Institute for Technology-inspired Regenerative Medicine, which focuses on developing novel and challenging technologies to advance the field of tissue and organ repair and regeneration through, amongst others, the development of high-throughput material platforms to screen cell-biomaterial interactions. MERLN consists of an interdisciplinary team of researchers including fields as (stem cell) biology, materials engineering, chemistry, micro/nanofabrication, additive manufacturing, etc.

BIOMED is a multidisciplinary institute at Hasselt University (B) that uses high-end technology to deliver novel insights in three main disease areas: immunology, neuroscience and cardiovascular disease. BIOMED aims to translate scientific discoveries into applications that contribute to a healthier society in line with
the civic ambition of Hasselt University. Moreover, BIOMED invests in academic excellence, regional and international positioning and strong partnerships with other academic institutes, the health sector and the life science industry.



  • PhD
  • Health
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2541—€3245 per month
  • University graduate
  • AT2023.299


Maastricht University (UM)

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