PhD Microenvironmental contributions to esophageal cancer

PhD Microenvironmental contributions to esophageal cancer

Published Deadline Location
8 Jul 21 Jul Amsterdam
Esophageal cancer remains difficult to treat. Join our research group to discover how the tumor
microenvironment stands in the way of effective treatment of this disease, and how to target
this to improve outcomes!

Job description

Esophageal cancer responds poorly to currently available therapies, and treatment outcomes remain poor. One factor to contribute to this is the abundance of cancer-associated fibroblasts (CAFs). In many esophageal tumors, these CAFs outnumber the cancer cells to form a dense stroma. Despite their abundance, the exact contributions of CAFs to tumor progression and therapy resistance remain largely elusive.

Based on knowledge obtained in other cancer types, different types of CAFs are thought to exist, each with divergent and possibly counteracting contributions to tumor biology. Failed clinical studies with compounds against CAFs underscore the notion that our understanding of these cells is insufficient to effectively target them. In this project, the different populations of CAFs in esophageal cancer will be identified and targeted to improve treatment outcomes for this disease.

In this KWF-funded project, you will be investigating the different types of CAFs we hypothesize to exist in esophageal cancer.
  • To solve important unanswered questions, you will apply modern methodologies including organoid cocultures, single cell sequencing, gene expression analysis, spatial profiling, and gene editing;
  • You will report on your findings in regular work meetings, conferences, and scientific publications in reputable journals;
  • You will supervise undergraduate students.


Amsterdam UMC


As an ambitious researcher who is committed to their project, you work diligently with high accuracy. You have a teamplayer spirit, you are creative, and you work well independently. Moreover you bring the following:
  • A master's degree in biomedical sciences, biology, (bio)chemistry or a related field;
  • Skilled in basic wetlab and molecular routines;
  • Experience in cell culture, preferably also organoids;
  • Bioinformatics and R proficiency is preferred.

Conditions of employment

  • A flying start to your career in scientific research.
  • Plenty of room for personal development with a wide range of training & development of academic skills.
  • Working on large-scale and own research, with motivated colleagues.
  • A contract for 12 months (extension possible, when there are financial resources for this).
  • Salary scale OIO: € 3.017 to € 3.824 gross per month with full-time employment (depending on education and experience) and a year-end bonus of 8.3%.
  • Vacation hours: 186,4 per year and a possibility to save additional hours.
  • Pension accrual with BeFrank, a modern, understandable and fairly priced pension.
  • Excellent accessibility by public transport and reimbursement of a large part of your travel expenses.


Amsterdam UMC

The position offered is embedded in the Laboratory for Experimental Oncology and Radiobiology, currently at Amsterdam UMC location Meibergdreef (AMC) but from 2025 at the location Boelelaan (VUmc). Amsterdam UMC is the main referral center for esophageal cancer in the Netherlands and our research is internationally leading. Especially on the topic of acquired therapy resistance, numerous important discoveries were made. You will be working in a large, interdisciplinary team of young researchers all working on gastrointestinal malignancies such as esophageal, pancreatic, and colorectal cancer.

The project is a collaboration between Amsterdam UMC and the LUMC with the group of dr. Hawinkels. Supervision will be shared, and you will occassionally work at the LUMC location on specific sub-projects.

You will enroll in the Amsterdam UMC doctoral school and work towards a PhD from the University of Amsterdam.

Additional information

The first round of interviews is scheduled in September. We ask you to take this into account in advance.

Do you have any questions? For substantive information or information about the application procedure please contact Maarten Bijlsma at 020-5667777 or or Hanneke van Laarhoven at

For more information about the application procedure, please contact Rhiannon Sandfort, Recruitment advisor, via

A reference check and screening can be part of the procedure. If you come to work for us, we ask for a Certificate of Good Conduct (Verklaring Omtrent Gedrag) for a number of function groups.

Internal candidates will be given priority over external candidates in the event of equal suitability.

Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.


  • PhD
  • Health
  • max. 36 hours per week
  • €3017—€3824 per month
  • Doctorate
  • 12198



Meibergdreef 9, 1105AZ, Amsterdam

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Application procedure

Application procedure

Make sure to apply no later than 21 Jul 2024 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).