Phd: Sex and gender differences in the working mechanisms of addiction

Phd: Sex and gender differences in the working mechanisms of addiction

Published Deadline Location
20 Jun 26 Aug Amsterdam
Are you passionate about understanding sex and gender differences in the working mechanisms of addiction? Do you have strong statistical and computational skills? Would you like to work with big longitudinal datasets? Join our team as a PhD student.

Job description

Alcohol use disorder (AUD) is one of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders in the Netherlands. While the prevalence of AUD is 2-3 times higher in men than in women, this gap is quickly closing. Moreover, the prevalence of AUD is suggested to be 3 times higher among gender minorities compared to cisgender individuals. Unfortunately, sex and gender differences in the development and treatment of AUD have been scarcely investigated. Therefore, the main aim of the current PhD project will be to investigate sex and gender differences in stress-related alcohol use in both clinical and non-clinical populations based on different datasets. In these datasets, we have data on subjective (craving) and physiological (heart rate variability, cortisol) alcohol cue and stress reactivity, sex hormone levels and as well as daily variations in stress, craving and alcohol use as measured over 28 days (SEGA 2.0 study) or 4 months (SEGA study).

The PhD on this project will focus primarily on setting up and performing statistical analyses of these complex longitudinal and physiological data, including dynamic structural equation modelling. In these analyses, you will not only focus on sex-based biological differences (including variations in sex hormone levels) but also sociocultural gender-related differences (including variations in gender expression). Results will be published in scientific articles, with the overall aim to gain insight into the sex- and gender differences in the working mechanisms underlying alcohol use disorder.

NOTE: Because data of this project are already collected, this project concerns a 3-year PhD project.

Your duties
  • Analyzing complex data including physiological (heart rate variability, cortisol, sex hormone levels) and ecological momentary assessment data (daily variations in stress, craving and drinking) using advanced statistical methods such as dynamic structural equation modelling.
  • Authoring and co-authoring manuscripts submitted to high-quality journals
  • In addition to research activities (90%) your work will also include teaching tasks (10%), such as the supervision of bachelor's and master's theses and tutor groups for courses related to psychology and neuroimaging.


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


  • A completed or upcoming research master's degree in psychology, cognitive neuroscience, cognitive sciences, or a related field. Because the vacancy concerns a 3-year PhD project, potential candidates are required to hold a research master's degree or equivalent (2-year master's with approximately 60 ECs in research courses)
  • Programming experience (Matlab, or Python, or R);
  • Advanced statistical skills, with experience in analyzing complex longitudinal datasets using (dynamic) structural equation modelling being a plus;
  • You have excellent proficiency in English in speaking and writing. Proficiency in Dutch is desirable;
  • You have good communication skills, take initiative, and have a strong interest in working in a multidisciplinary team.

As a university, we strive for equal opportunities for all, recognising that diversity takes many forms. We believe that diversity in all its complexity is invaluable for the quality of our teaching, research and service. We are always looking for talent with diverse backgrounds and experiences. This also means that we are committed to creating an inclusive community so that we can use diversity as an asset.

We realise that each individual brings a unique set of skills, expertise and mindset. Therefore we are happy to invite anyone who recognises themselves in the profile to apply, even if you do not meet all the requirements.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 year.

A challenging position in a socially engaged organisation. At VU Amsterdam, you contribute to education, research and service for a better world. And that is valuable. So in return for your efforts, we offer you:
  • a salary of € 3.226,00 (PhD) and maximum € 3.539,00 (PhD) gross per month in the third year, for a full-time employment
  • an employment contract of initially one year. If there is sufficient perspective, this will be extended to a total of 3 years. Your dissertation at the end of the fourth year forms the end of your employment contract.

We also offer you attractive fringe benefits and arrangements. Some examples:
  • A full-time 38-hour working week comes with a holiday leave entitlement of 232 hours per year. If you choose to work 40 hours, you have 96 extra holiday leave hours on an annual basis. For part-timers, this is calculated pro rata.
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • space for personal development
  • discount on (and occasionally exclusive access to) theater performances and courses at the Griffioen Cultural Center
  • contribution to commuting expenses


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

About the section Clinical Neuropsychology
Our section Clinical Neuropsychology is part of the Department of Clinical-, Neuro-, and Developmental Psychology. Our research focuses on fundamental and clinical research across the lifespan. We study behaviour and brain functioning using innovative techniques. Our research has a strong clinical impact as our scientific questions are based on important issues in the clinical field, and our research is aimed to improve the care of different patient groups, by the development of diagnostic instruments and (internet-based)interventions. Many of our research colleagues are also working in the clinical field.

Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences
Developing knowledge for an active, healthy and meaningful life: that is our mission at the Faculty of Behavioural and Movement Sciences at VU Amsterdam. We maintain a broad focus on the fields of behaviour and health. Our teaching and research programmes are devoted to current developments in society. From healthy aging to e-health, and from training top athletes to social media as a teaching tool. We combine three academic disciplines: psychology, movement sciences and education. A multidisciplinary approach allows us to arrive at a better understanding of human behaviour and movement. Our aims are to help people live healthier lives, learn better and function better.

Are you interested in joining Behavioural and Movement Sciences? You are the kind of person who feels at home working in an ambitious faculty, with an informal atmosphere and short lines of communication. We offer you all the space you need for personal development. Together with your 630 colleagues, you will take care of about 4,200 students.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam stands for values-driven education and research. We are open-minded experts with the ability to think freely. - a broader mind. Maintaining an entrepreneurial perspective and concentrating on diversity, significance and humanity, we work on sustainable solutions with social impact. By joining forces, across the boundaries of disciplines, we work towards a better world for people and planet. Together we create a safe and respectful working and study climate, and an inspiring environment for education and research. Learn more about our codes of conduct

We are located on one physical campus, in the heart of Amsterdam's Zuidas business district, with excellent location and accessibility. Over 6,150 staff work at the VU and over 31,000 students attend academic education.

Diversity is the driving force of the VU. The VU wants to be accessible and receptive to diversity in disciplines, cultures, ideas, nationalities, beliefs, preferences and worldviews. We believe that trust, respect, interest and differences lead to new insights and innovation, to sharpness and clarity, to excellence and a broader understanding.

We stand for an inclusive community and believe that diversity and internationalisation contribute to the quality of education, research and our services.

Therefore, we are always searching for people whose backgrounds and experience contribute to the diversity of the VU community.

Additional information

Are you interested in this position and do you believe that your experience will contribute to the further development of our university? In that case, we encourage you to submit your application.

Submitting a diploma, a reference check and an assessment are part of the application procedure.

The interviews will be held in the first two weeks of September, and the starting date of the project will be November 1st 2024.

Applications received by e-mail will not be considered.

Acquisition in response to this advertisement is not appreciated.


  • PhD
  • Health; Behaviour and society
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 4149


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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Van der Boechorststraat 7, 1081BT, Amsterdam

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Application procedure

Application procedure

Make sure to apply no later than 26 Aug 2024 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).