PhD Immunology and infectious diseases for studying the cause of ME/CFS

PhD Immunology and infectious diseases for studying the cause of ME/CFS

Published Deadline Location
7 Nov 22 Nov Amsterdam

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Unraveling the biomedical cause of the enigmatic disease ME/CFS

Job description

Myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS) is a debilitating and enigmatic disease with several symptoms that resemble Long-COVID. Until now, very little biomedical research has been done to study the underlying cause of this disease, and therefore ME/CFS still lacks a universally accepted case definition, cause, diagnosis, and treatment. Through a large grant of ZonMw a national consortium (NMCB) has now been set up, which aims to identify the biomedical cause(s) of ME/CFS. The project of this vacancy will specifically focus on autoimmunity as a main cause of ME/CFS, based on promising preliminary data on Long-COVID.

In this four year project, we aim to unravel the underlying mechanisms of ME/CFS through the development of a unique in vivo model, for which proof-of-concept has already been obtained. This project will combine the fields of immunology and infectious diseases to characterize the pathogenesis of ME/CFS using in vitro models (cellular and organotypic), mouse models for ME/CFS, several types of proteomics, and bioinformatics. The studies will be performed in close collaboration with our partners at the Vrije Universiteit (VU), UMC Utrecht and Sanquin. In addition, the research may be extended to closely related diseases such as Long-COVID, post-treatment Lyme disease, and Q fever fatigue syndrome. Potentially, the candidate may even be involved in pilot therapeutic clinical trials for these diseases.

Combined, this project aims to:

(1) provide a biomedical explanation for ME/CFS (i.e. autoimmunity).

(2) identify biomarkers (i.e. specific auto-antibodies) that will enable objective diagnosis of ME/CFS

(3) make the first step for in vitro and in vivo models for ME/CFS to test drugs to treat ME/CFS in the future

The PhD student will develop an in vivo model for ME/CFS, using a combination of techniques including proteomics, RNA sequencing, antibody isolation, and animal behavioral tests. This will allow to study the underlying molecular mechanisms of the disease, develop objective diagnostic tests for ME/CFS by techniques such as Luminex, and test the efficacy of candidate drugs.

The PhD student will work in a multidisciplinary team and collaborate with different departments within the Amsterdam UMC (Infectious Diseases) and outside the Amsterdam UMC (VU, UMC Utrecht, Sanquin). As part of the overarching national consortium NMCB there will be close collaboration with the other associated research projects, as well as international collaborators in Germany, Sweden, and South-Africa.


Amsterdam UMC


We are looking for a highly motivated, creative, and pro-active candidate with the following qualifications:
  • MSc degree in biomedical sciences or a related background
  • Experience in field of immunology and/or infectious diseases
  • Team player, excited by collaborating with different teams/institutes
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills in English
  • Willing to work with animals
  • Previous experience in working with animals is a plus
  • Willing to engage with patients for feedback and suggestions on the project

Conditions of employment

We offer ample opportunity for development, deepening and broadening, additional training and a place to grow! Working at Amsterdam UMC means working in an inspiring and professional environment where development is encouraged in every respect.
  • A jump start to your career in research work.
  • All the space for you to contribute shaping the care of tomorrow.
  • Working on large-scale and research project, with motivated colleagues from all over the world.
  • Extensive education programs, as well as lectures and symposia organized by Amsterdam Research institutes.
  • AMC Graduate School monitors your training and offers you a comprehensive program of courses in practical subjects and research skills.
  • You will start with a contract for one year (12 months), with the possibility of extension for another three years (36 months).
  • Salary scale OIO : € 2.901 to € 3.677 gross, based on 36 hours/week. The monthly wage will increase yearly to the maximum wage in the fourth year.
  • In addition to a good basic salary, we offer 8.3% end-of-year bonus and 8% holiday allowance.
  • Pension is accrued at Be Frank.
  • In addition to excellent accessibility by public transport, AMC also has a sufficient number of parking spaces for employees.
  • An active personnel association and the Young Amsterdam UMC association, both of which organize fun (sports) activities and events.


Amsterdam UMC

The Amsterdam UMC, location AMC, houses the university hospital and the medical faculty of the University of Amsterdam. The research group of Infectious Diseases is part of the Department for Experimental and Molecular Medicine (CEMM).

You will work under the supervision of Dr. Jeroen den Dunnen (;, in collaboration with Dr. Hung-Jen Chen, Brent Appelman, Prof. Michele van Vugt (CEMM), Dr. Marit van Gils (Medical Microbiology), Prof. Dominique Baeten (Rheumatology), and Dr. Niels Eijkelkamp (UMC Utrecht).

The research team has an extensive track record in immunology and infectious diseases, with papers published in high impact journals and research that is funded by prestigious grants. Our lab culture is open and collegiate, and is characterized by many (inter)national collaborations. Work-life balance is important to us.


  • PhD
  • max. 36 hours per week
  • €2901—€3677 per month
  • Doctorate
  • 9969



Meibergdreef 9, 1105AZ, Amsterdam

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