Postdoc position: immune benefits of protease inhibitors in pulses

Postdoc position: immune benefits of protease inhibitors in pulses

Published Deadline Location
21 May yesterday Wageningen

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Job description

Pulses play an important role in the transition from animal to plant proteins, which is essential for human and planetary health. Pulses are not only a rich source of high quality plant protein, but also of bioactive compounds with potential immune-modulating activity. Up to 10% of pulse proteins are protease inhibitors, known for impairing dietary protein digestibility and bioavailability. Even though their health-promoting properties in adults and infants have been suggested, they have only limitedly been documented. It has for example been shown that lupin seeds contain protease inhibitors that efficiently resist digestion and inhibit matrix metalloproteinases in the gut, whose inhibition can prevent chronic disease development.

This project is a collaboration between different groups at Copenhagen University and Wageningen University, striving to re-evaluate pulse protease inhibitors as unforeseen gut-beneficial immunomodulatory food ingredients. Along the whole value chain from raw food material to consumable product, it is hypothesized that different factors lead to modifications in level and activity of protease inhibitors. Pulses with various content of active protease inhibitors will be characterized after defined food processing steps with state-of-the-art analytical platforms. Next, gut inflammation processes will be mimicked in vitro to disentangle the interplay between protease inhibitors, matrix metalloproteinases and inflammation resolution.

For this vacancy, the overall aim is to determine the effect of protease inhibitors in pulses on infant digestion and immune response.

Your role in the project:
Within this project, where you will be working within a consortium with different scientific researchers as well as companies, your main tasks will include:
  • optimization of an existing infant in vitro digestion model to study the impact of protease inhibitors (using commercially available soy inhibitors);
  • in vitro digestion experiments of different pulse proteins, before and after processing and in absence and presence of a food matrix;
  • the digesta produced will be tested on in vitro epithelial and immune cell models, amongst others for their anti-inflammatory activity;
  • data analysis and publishing scientific papers.


Wageningen University & Research


For this position we are looking for someone with:
  • a PhD degree in life sciences, biomedical sciences, biology, or a related field;
  • affinity with food proteins and their in vitro digestion;
  • a strong background in, and experience with, immunology.

You should be able to work independently, have analytical thinking, and develop initiatives

In our international working environment there is an increasing amount of communication in English. For this position it is about language level C1.

Conditions of employment

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and 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, 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 of course receive a good salary. Depending on your experience, we offer a competitive gross salary of between €3226,- and €5090,- for a full-time working week of 38 hours, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale 10). We offer you a 2.5 year contract. Of course, we would be happy to discuss this with you if you have any questions.

Wageningen University & Research encourages internal advancement opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. 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 (Prof. dr. Kasper Hettinga). Your supervisors will be Dr. Tamara Hoppenbrouwers and Prof. dr. Kasper Hettinga. The project is in collaboration with Copenhagen University, with whom also a short exchange is planned during the project.

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 and do not appreciate unasked for services from recruitment agencies. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.


  • Postdoc
  • Food
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €3226—€5090 per month
  • Doctorate
  • P1522599-1


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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