PhD candidate, School for Oncology and Developmental Biology, Department of Pathology

PhD candidate, School for Oncology and Developmental Biology, Department of Pathology

Published Deadline Location
1 Dec 2 Jan Maastricht

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PhD position: Development and application of Artificial Intelligence/Deep Learning and Data Science methodology to characterise the anti-tumour immune response in patients with oesophagogastric cancer

Job description

Despite the recognised importance of systemic immunity in cancer, the clinical importance of the patient’s anti-tumour immune response as seen in the tumour draining lymph nodes has not been investigated in detail, mainly due to lack of objective high-throughput characterisation methodology. However, in particular, for highly aggressive cancers, such as oesophageal or gastric cancer (5-year survival 22%), there is an urgent need to refine patient management and unravel potential new treatment options to improve patient survival and quality of life.

We are looking for a PhD candidate to investigate the anti-tumour immune response in patients with oesophagogastric cancer analysing histopathological images using cutting edge AI/deep learning and data science technology, developing novel approaches and relating quantitative image features to patient data with two major aims (i) to improve our understanding of this devastating disease and (ii) to improve patient outcome by providing a personalized clinical treatment decision tool in the near future. You will develop and apply AI algorithms as well as Data Science methods to analyse more than 40,000 already digitized histopathological images from 2000 patients from 3 multicentre phase III randomized controlled trials. Detailed clinicopathological information including mature survival data are already available for all patients.


Maastricht University (UM)


We are seeking a highly motivated master graduate with a strong background and interest in the analysis and interpretation of histopathological images meeting the following requirements:

  • Master degree (or an equivalent university degree) in Information Science, Computer Science, Applied Physics including Biophysics, Biomedical Engineering, Biomedical Science or related discipline with an interest in clinical decision support systems;
  • Experience in image processing and analysis;
  • Experience in deep (machine) learning/artificial intelligence;
  • Experience in handling large datasets
  • Experience in data science methods
  • Programming experience in Python.
  • Good analytical skills;
  • A research driven and proactive attitude
  • Affinity for working in an interdisciplinary and highly international environment;
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills in English.

While we don't expect the candidate to be an expert in the clinical application area, some knowledge of cell biology and an interest in learning about the application domain is strongly desirable.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 years (1+3).

  • A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious environment with the possibility to present your work at international conferences.
  • A full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation (go/no-go) after twelve months.
  • To support you during your PhD and to prepare you for the rest of your career, you will make a Training and Supervision plan and you will have free access to a personal development program for PhD students
  • A gross monthly salary and benefits in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities (€ 2.434,- gross per month in the first year up to 
    € 3.111,- gross per month in the fourth year).
  • Additionally, an annual holiday allowance of 8% of the yearly salary, plus a year-end allowance of 8.3% of the annual salary.
  • Should you come from abroad and comply with certain conditions, you can make use of the so-called '30% facility', which permits you not to pay tax on 30% of your salary.

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. For more information, visit


Maastricht University is a top-ranked international university, renowned for the quality of the research undertaken in many areas. Maastricht University Researchers at UM work in multidisciplinary teams and in close cooperation with international institutes, business and industry. UM researchers have attracted international attention by taking the lead in several large European research projects. All training programs have accreditation and are evaluated well by students and peers.

This position is primarily located at Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands, within the Department of Pathology and the Department of Precision Medicine, both embedded in the research school GROW. The research project will be carried out in close collaboration with Derek Magee (School of Computing, University of Leeds, UK) and David Cairns (Leeds Institute of Clinical Trials Research, University of Leeds, UK) who will be part of the international multidisciplinary supervision team.


  • PhD
  • Health
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2434—€3111 per month
  • University graduate
  • AT2021.474


Maastricht University (UM)

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Universiteitssingel 60, 6229 ER, Maastricht

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