PhD candidate “Muscle wasting during Exacerbations of COPD”, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Department of Respiratory Medicine

PhD candidate “Muscle wasting during Exacerbations of COPD”, Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Department of Respiratory Medicine

Published Deadline Location
14 Oct 14 Nov Maastricht

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The aim of this translational project is the phenotyping of exacerbations of COPD with specific focus on the recovery from and prevention of muscle wasting. Both clinical and experimental (e.g. in vitro) studies will be performed.

Job description

CHRONIC OBSTRUCTIVE PULMONARY DISEASE (COPD) is a prevalent inflammatory disease characterized by irreversible airflow obstruction as well as skeletal muscle wasting. The disease has a high morbidity and mortality, and with more than 300 million deaths yearly, it is the 3rd leading cause of death worldwide. An acute exacerbation (AE) of COPD is an acute worsening of disease which often requires additional treatment or hospitalization. During AEs the skeletal muscle wasting aggravates. The PhD candidate will be involved in a clinical study involving human subjects that aims to phenotype AE subtypes based on local and systemic inflammatory profiles. In addition, muscle wasting and recovery thereof will be examined (within these AE profiles) by measuring muscle mass and function as well as conducting lab analyses in muscle biopsies to unravel underlying molecular mechanisms. Moreover, a large part of the project will consist of in vitro approaches (muscle cell culture) and potentially working with animal models to further identify if these molecular mechanisms are potential therapeutic targets, with the ultimate goal to combat AE-induced muscle wasting in COPD.


Maastricht University (UM)


You hold a Master’s degree in the Molecular/Cell/Medical Biology or other relevant Biomedical Sciences field with a strong drive to grow in this area. You have a real researcher’s mentality; open-minded, curious, enthusiastic and accurate. You are pro-active, capable of working independently, and you like to work in a team. You have good organization and communication skills and master the English language in spoken and written form. Because of the translational nature of this project, the candidate should have high affinity for and experience with “wet lab research”, but the candidate should also possess soft skills essential for working with patients (e.g. for functional tests and assisting with tissue sampling). Willingness to work with pre-clinical (mouse) models is a prerequisite. Hands-on experience with animal and cell culture models is a plus, as well as having a Biosafety (VMT) and/or FELASA-C certification. Full professional proficiency in English is required. Because of the interaction with patients it is preferred that the candidate also speaks Dutch (minimum limited working proficiency).

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1+3 years.

Temporary employment for 4 years. The first year will be a probation period, after a positive assessment the position will be extended for another 3 years, which happens in the vast majority of cases.

Your salary would be € 2.434,- gross per month in the first year up to € 3.111,- gross per month in the fourth year according to the PhD-candidate salary scale. An 8% holiday and an 8.3% year-end allowance is also provided. Each year an evaluation will take place.

The terms of employment of Maastricht University are set out in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO). Furthermore, local UM provisions also apply. For more information look at the website > About UM > Working at UM.


Maastricht University

Maastricht University is renowned for its unique, innovative, problem-based learning system, which is characterized by a small-scale and student-oriented approach. Research at UM is characterized by a multidisciplinary and thematic approach, and is concentrated in research institutes and schools. Maastricht University has around 20,000 students and 4,700 employees. Reflecting the university's strong international profile, a fair amount of both students and staff are from abroad. The university hosts 6 faculties: Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Faculty of Law, School of Business and Economics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience.


Department of Respiratory Medicine

The Department of Respiratory Medicine is part of NUTRIM, School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism, in Maastricht. The research focus of the department is COPD and lung cancer with a specific interest in the regulation of skeletal muscle mass and metabolism in health and disease. The Department of Respiratory Medicine has a long standing interest and expertise in experimental and clinical research into mechanisms of and interventions in the metabolic consequences of pulmonary diseases.

NUTRIM, School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism

NUTRIM aims to contribute to health maintenance and personalised medicine by unraveling lifestyle and disease-induced derangements in metabolism and by developing targeted nutritional, exercise and drug interventions.

NUTRIM is internationally recognised as Centre of Excellence for research on obesity, diabetes, COPD and cancer cachexia.

This is facilitated by a state of the art research infrastructure and close interaction between scientists, clinicians, master and PhD students (in 2020: approximately 134 researchers, 256 PhD students and 63 support staff). Our core research programme is organised around integrated multidisciplinary themes in three divisions including 18 clinical and basic sciences departments of Maastricht University Medical Centre+ (MUMC+).



  • PhD
  • Health
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2434—€3111 per month
  • University graduate
  • AT2021.401


Maastricht University (UM)

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Universiteitssingel 50, 6229 ER, Maastricht

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