PhD position: improving infant health through breast milk proteins & peptides

PhD position: improving infant health through breast milk proteins & peptides

Published Deadline Location
7 May 27 May Wageningen

You cannot apply for this job anymore (deadline was 27 May 2024).

Browse the current job offers or choose an item in the top navigation above.

Job description

We are looking for a PhD candidate with an interest in analytical biochemistry and bioinformatics for a project on breast milk protein and peptide composition and its relation to infant health.

Breastfeeding is known to be important for healthy development of infants. One of the many benefits of breastfeeding is the protection against airway infections. Within this project, we will study the role of breast milk composition in the prevention of airway infections in infants, based on evidence that specific factors (proteins and peptides) in human milk may play a role in the protective function of human milk. We will characterize breast milk proteins and peptides, and will determine the link between their presence in breastmilk and airway infections in infants.

Within this PhD project, the aim will be to study the variability in the proteins and peptides in breast milk. We have developed improved methodology for both protein and peptide screening in human milk. However, further improvements still need to be made for the identification of specific peptides. It is expected that the PhD student contributes to this development by working on improved biochemical methods and data analysis. Next, the relation between these breast milk components and infant airway infections needs to be established in collaboration with the PRIMA cohort (Dutch website: In collaboration with another PhD student at the UMC Utrecht, the immunological functionality will be studied of key proteins, including the impact of heating on this functionality.

What will you do
You will work at the Food Quality & Design group, with several external partners (including universities and industries). Within this project, your main tasks will include:
  • perform and improve proteomics and peptidomics analyses;
  • use bioinformatics tool to analyse the obtained -omics data;
  • publishing scientific papers and write a PhD thesis;
  • working within a consortium with different scientific researchers as well as companies.


Wageningen University & Research


For this position we are looking for a PhD candidate who has the following qualifications:
  • a successfully completed MSc degree in biological science, e.g. food, nutrition, biochemistry;
  • experience in biochemical analyses, e.g. protein and/or peptide analysis;
  • knowledge of and/or experience with complex data analysis;
  • strong scientific writing skills (evident from your thesis and/or publications);
  • affinity with working in a multidisciplinary group;
  • excellent command of written and spoken English.

Conditions of employment

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.

The gross salary for the first year is € 2.770 - per month rising to € 3.539,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “Best University” in the Netherlands for the 19th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees.

Because we expect you to work and live in the Netherlands our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about for example helping your partner to find a job, housing, or schooling. Finally, certain categories of international staff may be eligible for a tax exemption on a part of their salary during the first five years in the Netherlands.


Wageningen University & Research

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With its roughly 30 branches, 7,600 employees (6,700 fte) and 13,100 students and over 150,000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

You will work here
This research will be executed within the chair Food Quality and Design. Your supervisors will be Prof. dr. Kasper Hettinga (Food Quality and Design) and Dr. Tim Lambers (FrieslandCampina).

Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus!

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.


  • PhD
  • Food
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • Doctorate
  • P1513589-1


Wageningen University & Research

Learn more about this employer


Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

View on Google Maps

Interesting for you