PhD student EXPANSE project

PhD student EXPANSE project

Published Deadline Location
28 Aug 10 Sep Utrecht

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PhD-position on the EU-funded EXPANSE project. You will design simulation models of the urban environment and perform (cost-)effectiveness analyses of interventions to prevent cardio-metabolic pulmonary diseases.

Job description

Would you like to uncover how changes in our living environment are impacting our health? Are you interested in urban-scale geo-computational modeling and social cost-benefit analysis (SCBA)? Then the EXPANSE project on Exposome powered tools for healthy urban living might be the right research program for you.

For the PhD project “Modeling the impact of urban level intervention strategies to prevent cardio-metabolic pulmonary diseases in EXPANSE”, we are looking for an enthusiastic and creative researcher to strengthen our research group. EXPANSE is a Pan-European project funded by the European Union’s Horizon 2020 program on Better Health and care, economic growth and sustainable health systems. EXPANSE will address one of the most pertinent questions for urban planners, policy makers, and European citizens: “How to maximize one’s health in a modern urban environment?”. To this end, EXPANSE will utilise data from administrative cohorts, prospective cohorts and bespoke panel studies including 5,000 individuals living in five “Urban Labs” spread over Europe.
In this PhD project, you will design simulation models of the urban environment on a city scale that can be used to assess the costs and benefits of urban intervention strategies to prevent cardio-metabolic pulmonary diseases (CMPD). The first goal is to design an agent based model (ABM) framework for dynamic individual and collective health relevant behavior, including mobility and time-activity patterns, social networks and the surrounding built environment. You will  combine the ABM with CMPD exposure impact models (respiratory, behavioral, etc.) developed by other researchers in the project, to simulate the impact of urban exposome based intervention strategies on the health of the city population. One example for such an intervention strategy would be the increase of green or blue space in the urban environment, or to increase active transport. Secondly, you will study ways to link the parameters of the simulation model to a cost-benefit model which allows economic evaluation of different intervention strategies. The cost-benefit model should include different stakeholders, such as individuals (health outcomes and costs), municipalities (investment costs for increasing green and blue spaces), industry and infrastructure (improved control of emissions) and should allow assessing the welfare impact of a set of clearly defined intervention scenarios on a city scale.

As a PhD student you will be responsible for developing the ABM framework and the linked cost-benefit model to assess intervention strategies in a systematic manner in close collaboration with other national and international partners in the project. You will start with carefully studying existing approaches for urban modeling, CMPD exposures and economic analysis. You will collaborate closely with several PhD students within the EXPANSE project and with international partners in the Pan-European EXPANSE project. You will publish the findings as papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals. These papers will form the basis of your PhD thesis. 


University Medical Center Utrecht (UMC Utrecht)


We are looking for a colleague who has a completed Master's degree in Economic or Health Geography, Health Economics, data science, GIS-science, computational geoscience, or a related discipline with a strong interest in both environment and health and strong modeling skills. You should be a teammate, open for collaboration across scientific fields, having the ambition to contribute to scientific progress as well as to perform societal relevant research. The candidate should be able to work independently and have good verbal and written communication skills in English and preferably Dutch. 

Conditions of employment

The maximum salary for this position (100%) is € 3.196,00 gross per month based on full-time employment (work week 36 hours). This job is based on a temporary position for 3,5 years.

In addition, we offer an annual benefit of 8.3%, holiday allowance, travel expenses and career opportunities. The terms of employment are in accordance with the Cao University Medical Centers (UMC).


Julius Center of University Medical Center Utrecht

The project will be performed within the Julius Center of University Medical Center Utrecht, the Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS), and the Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning at Utrecht University. The Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Center Utrecht, is a knowledge center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, located within the University Medical Center Utrecht. We conduct multidisciplinary scientific research into new diagnoses and treatment methods, with a strong emphasis on methodological research. The sub-department of Health Technology Assessment has a strong track record in economic evaluation of (public) health interventions. IRAS is an inter-facultary research institute within the Department Population Health Sciences of the faculty Veterinary Medicine and Medicine, of Utrecht University. Its mission is to provide education and research on the human and environmental health risks of exposure to potentially harmful agents in the environment where research takes places within the domains Toxicology, Environmental Epidemiology and Veterinary Public Health. The position will be linked to the Utrecht Exposome Hub. The Department of Human Geography and Spatial Planning has its focus on the enhancement of long-term economic developments of cities, how to cope with social inequalities, and how to accelerate sustainability transitions of cities and infrastructures. Research on these topics takes place within our research program “Urban Futures: Transitions Towards Economic and Social Sustainability for Cities”.


  • PhD
  • University graduate
  • 2020/0593


University Medical Center Utrecht (UMC Utrecht)

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