PhD Student Drug Sensitivities in Neuroblastoma Patients

PhD Student Drug Sensitivities in Neuroblastoma Patients

Published Deadline Location
26 Jan 13 Feb Utrecht

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Job description

In our group, we aim to identify specific drug sensitivities in (subsets of) neuroblastoma patients, to find new therapeutic interventions and biomarkers. This includes previously developed drugs, new drugs and drug combinations. To study tumor behavior and drug sensitivity, we make use of patient data, tumor profiling and different neuroblastoma model systems. In your PhD project, you will be involved in several projects that encompass prediction of response to (targeted) therapies and therapy combination.

In a new project within the ITCC-P4 partner consortium, we will compare tumoroids and patient-derived xenografts (PDX) as model systems and aim to build a connected repository for both in vitro and in vivo studies. In this PhD project, you will culture a number of new organoids from patient-derived xenografts (or PDX) which will then be genetically characterized and tested for drug sensitivities. Part of the project will be the analysis and interpretation of this dataset to find similarities and differences between the model systems, in both the genetics and drug testing. Furthermore, you will examine correlations of drug sensitivities with specific pediatric tumor types, different target expression levels or genomic aberrations and validate your findings using various molecular biology techniques, depending on the drugs and targets.


Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology


For this vacancy we are looking for an enthusiastic candidate with a master’s degree in Medical Biology, Computational Biology, Life Sciences or in a related field. This PhD trajectory will encompass both ‘dry’ (i.e. data analysis) and ‘wet’ lab (e.g. cell culture) works, so previous experience with both will be greatly appreciated. More specifically, experience with cell culture, cell-based assays, and drug testing, as well as experience using R or Python is preferred. Interest in organoid culture and lab automation using robotics is an asset, although no experience is necessary. This vacancy also requires command of both oral and written English, excellent communication, and organization skills as well as the ability to work within a dynamic group.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 1 year, with the intention to extend (for a total of 4 years).

A temporary, full-time PhD position for a total duration of 4 years (36 hours / week) in an ambitious and internationally recognized team. You will initially be contracted for a period of 1 year, after which your performance will be evaluated, and the contract may be extended for three more years. The Princess Máxima Center operates according to the collective labor agreement ‘cao algemene ziekenhuizen’. Your gross monthly salary will starting in scale FWG 45/6. Your gross monthly salary will include an 8,33% gross monthly salary holiday allowance and 8,33 % end-of-year bonus.


The Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology

The Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology in Utrecht is the national research hospital concentrating healthcare, research, and education with regard to pediatric cancer. The institute aims to provide the highest level of care for all children with cancer and has the ambition to cure all children of cancer and improve quality of life. The center brings together the best possible care and scientific research, creating a unique interdisciplinary institute for pediatric oncology in Europe.


The Molenaar group

The Molenaar group aims to translate molecular genetic knowledge of pediatric solid tumors into new clinical applicable therapeutic interventions with a specific focus on neuroblastoma. Neuroblastoma patients have tumors that arise from progenitor cells of the sympathetic nervous system and have a poor prognosis with overall survival of less than 50% in high stage disease. Therefore, new therapeutic interventions as well as better prediction on the existing drugs and drug combinations are highly necessary. For this, we combine different areas of expertise including high-throughput drug screening, precision medicine, the tumor immune environment and bioinformatics.


  • PhD; Research, development, innovation; Technical and laboratory; IT
  • Health; Engineering; Natural sciences
  • max. 36 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • SP PhD Student Drug Sensitivities


Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology

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Heidelberglaan 25, 3512 JE, Utrecht

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