Postdoctoral Researcher: Microbial Metabolite Biomarkers for Immunotherapy Outcome

Postdoctoral Researcher: Microbial Metabolite Biomarkers for Immunotherapy Outcome

Published Deadline Location
30 Apr 20 May Nijmegen

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Job description

Are you fascinated by the way our gut microbiome affects immunotherapy outcome, and are you looking for a project at the interface of analytical biochemistry, microbiology and clinical practice? The Department of Microbiology of the Radboud Institute for Biological and Environmental Sciences (RIBES) is looking for a Postdoctoral Researcher who is enthusiastic about discovering microbial metabolites that predict the outcome of lung cancer immunotherapy using targeted and untargeted LC-MS methods.

Immunotherapy has become the treatment of choice for many cancers but the treatment is expensive and the outcome variable. Biomarkers that predict treatment outcome are thus highly desired.

Several studies have shown that our gut microbiome affects the response to and toxicity of cancer immunotherapy. The mechanism underlying this correlation can be mediated by direct or indirect interactions between gut microbes and the immune system, but microbial metabolites are thought to be key mediators.

Among the microbial metabolites found in humans, small chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as butyrate have emerged as potential mediators affecting response, but validation studies in large cohorts are lacking. In this project, you will validate the predictive value of plasma SCFAs for cancer immunotherapy response in a large cohort of non-small cell lung cancer patients and provide a solid basis for clinical implementation of these promising biomarkers.

Even though SCFAs have consistently emerged as predictive metabolites, the spectrum of microbiome-derived metabolites in humans is much wider and remains largely unexplored. In this project, you will use untargeted metabolomics to discover other microbial metabolites that could serve as predictive biomarkers and entry point into new immunomodulatory mechanisms.
In this project, you will develop and validate quantitative LC-MS methods for microbial metabolites with suspected immunomodulatory activity (eg. SCFAs). You will apply these methods to plasma samples collected in the ongoing multicentre DEDICATION (NVALT 30) study coordinated by the Radboud university medical center. You will also analyse these samples using untargeted metabolomics to search for new predictive microbial metabolites.

You will communicate your results at interdisciplinary DEDICATION meetings and at international meetings and in scientific journals. To help our postdoctoral researchers receive training, develop their personal and professional skills and prepare for the future, they are organised through an institutional Postdoc Platform.


Radboud University


  • You should hold a PhD in bioanalytical chemistry or a related field.
  • You have experience with or look forward to learning untargeted metabolomics.
  • You have good communication skills.
  • You enjoy working in an interdisciplinary team.
  • Experience with microbiome research is a plus but not required.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: We will give you a temporary employment contract of two years.

  • We will give you a temporary employment contract of two years.
  • Your salary within salary scale 10 depends on your previous education and number of years of (relevant) work experience. The amounts in the scale are based on a 38-hour working week.
  • You will receive an 8% holiday allowance and an 8,3% end-of-year bonus.
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Support Service. The Dual Career Programme assists your partner via support, tools, and resources to improve their chances of independently finding employment in the Netherlands. Our Family Support Service helps you and your partner feel welcome and at home by providing customised assistance in navigating local facilities, schools, and amenities. Also take a look at our support for international staff page to discover all our services for international employees.
  • You will receive extra days off. With full-time employment, you can choose between 30 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the statutory 20.

Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.


This RVO-funded project will be carried out in Robert Jansen’s Functional Metabolomics group, which uses untargeted metabolomics to discover the function of uncharacterised enzymes and metabolites in microbes. The group is embedded in the Department of Microbiology of the Radboud Institute for Biological and Environmental Sciences (RIBES). The project will be performed in close collaboration with the Department of Pharmacy and the Department of Pulmonary Diseases of the Radboud university medical center.

The Department of Microbiology comprises an enthusiastic and devoted team of researchers who closely collaborate in a flat organisational structure. Harmonious and productive collaboration and synergy are key to our success. The Department has state-of-the-art equipment for sequencing and data analysis, light and electron microscopy, and metabolomics, an MLII lab, a large bioreactor facility, and infrastructure for anaerobic microbiology, as well as facilities for biochemical, molecular and physiological work. Our mission is to conduct research at the forefront of microbial ecology and physiology and biogeochemistry with the main aim of understanding the diversity of microorganisms responsible for the biogeochemical cycling of nitrogen and carbon, and host-microbe interactions. We have expertise in microbial metabolomics, microbial cell biology and biochemistry, environmental microbiology, microbial biotechnology, geomicrobiology and biogeochemistry, and microbial ecophysiology and microbial meta-omics. In addition, exciting opportunities exist to enhance your teaching skills in BSc or MSc courses in our Microbiology programmes and for BSc and MSc students to work on your project.

The Department of Microbiology is part of the Radboud Institute for Biological and Environmental Sciences (RIBES). RIBES aims to perform world-leading research to understand the response of the natural environment to human impact. Research at RIBES encompasses three major groups of organisms (microorganisms, plants and animals) and spans nearly all levels of biological organisation. The institute is organised in three departments: Ecology and Physiology, Environmental Science, and Microbiology.


  • Postdoc
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • Doctorate
  • 62.096.24



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