PhD student Head & Neck Cancer

PhD student Head & Neck Cancer

Published Deadline Location
12 Sep 27 Sep Amsterdam

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We are looking for a motivated PhD student to join the Head and Neck Cancer Biology and Immunology laboratory at Amsterdam UMC to help us unravel the importance of GARP in head and neck cancer immune suppression and disease prognosis.

Job description

As a PhD student you will be involved in a Dutch Cancer Society funded project studying whether GARP (glycoprotein-A repetition predominant) plays a key role in immune suppression in head and neck cancer.

With the current treatment arsenal, half of the 900,000 patients that will yearly receive the diagnosis head and neck squamous cell carcinoma, will not survive 5 years. In the Netherlands, immunotherapy with immune checkpoint inhibitors targeting PD-1 have been introduced in 2018 for the treatment of patients with recurrent or metastatic head and neck cancer. While several remarkable responses have been observed, the majority of patients do not benefit this treatment, while side-effects can be severe and treatments are costly.

A clinical challenge is to improve efficacy of (immuno)therapy and identify biomarkers that can predict, prior to treatment, whether a patient is likely or unlikely to respond to treatment. Additionally, unravelling GARPs mechanistic role in suppressing the immune system, could provide leads for the development of novel combination therapies in the future. This project, funded by the Dutch Cancer Society aims to tackle this clinical challenge. This project is a collaboration between the Dept. of Otolaryngology | Head & Neck Surgery and the Dept. of Medical Oncology at Amsterdam UMC (location VUMC).
  • You will set-up, plan and perform your own experiments and analyze your data. We have weekly Project meetings to discuss these with the team;
  • Techniques include: spatial transcriptomics, multi-parameter flow cytometry, multiplex fluorescent immunohistochemistry and functional immune assays;
  • You will supervise Bachelor and Master students during their practical internship or literature thesis;
  • You will disseminate your data at (inter)national conferences and publish your work in peer-reviewed journals.


Amsterdam UMC


  • You have a Master degree in Biomedical Sciences, Medicine or a related discipline, or will receive your degree in 2023;
  • You have a background in oncology and/or immunology training;
  • You have experience in basic immunology and/or cell biology techniques (experience with any of the techniques described in the previous section is highly valued, but not required);
  • You have a high level of independence, but you are also a team player;
  • You are eager to learn new techniques and you have good communication skills, and a good command of both written and spoken English.

Conditions of employment

  • A contract for the duration of the project. We offer an initial contract for 12 months, that can be extended (for another 36 months (after evaluation).
  • Salary scale OIO : € 2,789- € 3,536 gross, based on 36 hours/week.
  • Effective of November 2023, a 4% salary increase will occur. The monthly wage will increase yearly to the maximum wage in the fourth year.

In addition we offer:
  • An 8.3% end-of-year bonus and 8% holiday pay.
  • Free and unlimited access to our online learning environment: GoodHabitz.
  • Pension is accrued at the ABP. Amsterdam UMC contributes 70% of the premium.
  • We reimburse 75% of you public transport commuting costs. Would you rather bike? We have a good bike arrangement in place.
  • You can choose to participate in the active staff association, as well as the Young Amsterdam UMC association, which both organize fun activities and events.


Amsterdam UMC

The Head and Neck Cancer Biology and Immunology (HNCBI) laboratory is embedded within the department of Otolaryngology | Head & Neck Surgery at Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc.

Prof. C. René Leemans is the Head of the department and the HNCBI laboratory is chaired by Prof. Ruud Brakenhoff. Our scientific aim is to improve the diagnosis and treatment of patients with head and neck squamous cell carcinoma. The lab contains around 15 scientists (senior staff, PhD students, technicians). Dr. Rieneke van de Ven leads the tumor-immunology research within the HNCBI lab.

Our research group is embedded in two Amsterdam UMC research Institutes: Cancer Center Amsterdam (Cancer Biology and Immunology theme) and Amsterdam Institute for Infection and Immunity (Tumor Immunology theme).

Amsterdam UMC is an inspiring and professional working environment, in which we encourage employees to develop their talents and skills. For this purpose, we offer career development opportunities and trainings.


  • PhD
  • max. 36 hours per week
  • €2789—€3536 per month
  • Doctorate
  • 9467



De Boelelaan 1117, 1081HV, Amsterdam

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