PhD Candidate in Molecular Neurobiology and Electrophysiology

PhD Candidate in Molecular Neurobiology and Electrophysiology

Published Deadline Location
17 Jun 6 Jul Nijmegen

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Job description

In spite of the fuss our parents may have made about it, we do not remember our first birthday party. This phenomenon is known as infantile amnesia, which describes a period early in life - spanning the first 3-4 years in humans - from which we cannot recall episodic or spatial memories. Despite a concerted research effort aimed at identifying the neural substrates and molecular mechanisms of adult memory over the last decades, remarkably little is known about the processes governing its maturation.

The Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour at Radboud University is looking for a PhD Candidate in Molecular Biology. As a PhD candidate, your research will aim to elucidate the neural and molecular mechanisms underlying the emergence of spatial memory in hippocampal circuits. You will use a large panel of state-of-the-art approaches in neuroscience such as in vivo electrophysiology recordings in behaving mice as well as molecular approaches such as proteomics and transcriptomics analysis of isolated synapses, fluorescence and electron microscopy, immunohistochemistry and biochemistry. You will have the opportunity to supervise Bachelor’s and Master’s students.


Radboud University


  • You have a Master’s degree (or are about to obtain one) in biology, neuroscience or biomedical sciences.
  • You are highly motivated to conduct PhD research in neuroscience investigating the fundamental mechanisms of brain function.
  • You are ready for the challenge of learning state-of-the-art techniques in neuroscience.
  • Experience with in vivo recordings in rodents is a plus but not required.
  • Both labs are highly international, being comfortable working in an English speaking environment is required.
  • You should be able to work independently but also be a very good team player.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: you will be appointed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract) or 3.5 years (5 year contract).

  • Employment: 0.8 (5 year contract) - 1.0 FTE (4 year contract).
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €2,395 per month based on a 38-hour working week, and will increase to €3,061 from the fourth year onwards (salary scale P).
  • In addition to the salary: an 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • Duration of the contract: you will be appointed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract) or 3.5 years (5 year contract).
  • Your teaching load may be up to 10% of your appointment.
  • The intended start date is 1 November 2021.
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services. Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment  and help your family settle in Nijmegen.

Additional employment conditions
Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.


Radboud University

We want to get the best out of science, others and ourselves. Why? Because this is what the world around us desperately needs. Leading research and education make an indispensable contribution to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. This is what unites the more than 22,000 students and 5,000 employees at Radboud University. And this requires even more talent, collaboration and lifelong learning. You have a part to play!


Faculty of Science

The Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour is a world-class interfaculty research centre that houses more than 800 researchers devoted to understanding the mechanistic underpinnings of the human mind. Research at the Donders Institute is focused around four themes: 1. Language and communication, 2. Perception, action and control, 3. Plasticity and memory, 4. Neural computation and neurotechnology.

The PhD project is a joint research initiative between the research groups of Dr Freyja Olafsdottir and Dr Anne-Sophie Hafner. Dr Olafsdottir will supervise your use of in vivo electrophysiology methods and Dr Hafner will supervise your use of molecular methods. Dr Olafsdottir’s lab aims to identify the neural mechanisms underlying the maturation of episodic and spatial memory. To this end, she employs cutting-edge chronic, in vivo neural recording techniques in developing rodents. In recent years, she has attracted significant research funding (such as the Christine Mohrmann Fellowship, Donders Institute) and has published in some of the most influential peer-reviewed journals in neuroscience (e.g. Nature Neuroscience, Neuron and eLife). Dr Hafner’s lab, on the other hand, aims to elucidate the mechanisms underlying the molecular basis of memory formation at synapses. She uses techniques such as omics approaches combined with FACs, metabolic labelling, and super-resolution imaging to investigate transcriptome and protein dynamics during synaptic plasticity, the molecular correlate of memory. The Hafner lab also investigates neurodegenerative disorders like Alzheimer's disease, with a strong focus on axonopathies. Anne-Sophie Hafner is a junior group leader most known for unravelling the first presynaptic transcriptome from mature excitatory terminals and demonstrating the abundance of active protein synthesis in all synaptic compartments: the postsynapse and excitatory and inhibitory presynaptic boutons. She is an author on more than ten original scientific papers published in journals such as Science, Neuron or Nature Neuroscience. As such, you will benefit from the complementary and internationally recognised expertise of both PIs. In addition, you will be able to take advantage of established collaborations both research labs have with leaders in the field of systems and molecular neuroscience, such as the labs of Prof. Erik Storkebaum and Prof. Francesco Battaglia.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • 32—40 hours per week
  • max. €3061 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1157043



Houtlaan 4, 6525 XZ, Nijmegen

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