PhD Position on Aneuploidy in Human and Mammalian Oocytes and Early Embryos (1.0 FTE)

PhD Position on Aneuploidy in Human and Mammalian Oocytes and Early Embryos (1.0 FTE)

Published Deadline Location
2 Jan 5 Feb Utrecht

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Job description

This PhD position is supported by the ZonMw funded project titled “Crowning chromosomes: The fibrous corona in maintenance of genome stability in oocytes and early embryos”. The PhD candidate will join the Fertility & Reproduction research group at the Department of Clinical Sciences (Faculty of Veterinary Medicine). They will have access to expertise in translational and human embryology, molecular biology and advanced microscopic technology to study cell division in live oocytes and early embryos. In addition, access to advanced single cell sequencing technologies, mass-spectrometry and advanced image analysis software will be available.

The successful candidate will be closely collaborating with the Kops group (Hubrecht Institute), the Hiiragi group (Hubrecht Institute) and the IVF lab of the University Medical Centrum Utrecht, all located within the Utrecht Science Park.

One in five couples have difficulty conceiving children. These couples often resort to assisted reproduction and in vitro fertilization (IVF). However, 70% of IVF attempts are unsuccessful. The primary cause for these failures is aneuploidy, an incorrect chromosome number in the embryonic cells. The majority of embryonic aneuploidies originate from chromosome segregation errors during cell division in the oocyte (meiosis) or the early embryo, but the molecular causes of these errors are poorly understood. There is an urgent need for research models that recapitulate early human development and for the development of molecular mechanistic approaches to study chromosome segregation processes in these models. In this project, we will apply innovative bioimaging approaches and the newest insights from cancer research on the molecular origins of aneuploidy to relevant large animal models for human development to improve our understanding of human infertility.

The key objective of this PhD project is to understand how a unique chromosomal feature of mammalian oocytes and early embryos, named the fibrous corona, helps to promote high fidelity chromosome segregation and thereby reduce the chance of generating aneuploid progeny. Our preliminary data show that the corona is central to the mechanisms that direct spindle assembly and correct chromosome orientations during early development. The experiments will be performed on both large animal models and on surplus immature human oocytes which are discarded from ICSI cycles. The results of this project may contribute to future strategies to prevent chromosome segregation errors in early in vitro embryos.


Utrecht University


The ideal applicant is enthusiastic, creative, with excellent communication skills and can work in a multidisciplinary team. Furthermore, they bring:
  • a Master's degree in Life Sciences, Veterinary Science or Medicine with academic excellence in research, demonstrated by outstanding master research thesis and research projects;
  • good grounding in developmental biology and basic biomolecular, biochemical, cell/tissue culture skills are prerequisites;
  • expertise in embryology and micromanipulation, while not essential, is an advantage;
  • willingness to supervise master students on related projects.

Conditions of employment

We offer a temporary position (1.0 FTE) for one year in an international working environment. After a positive evaluation, the agreement will be extended for another three years. The gross salary - depending on previous qualifications and experience - ranges between €2,541 in the first year and €3,247 in the fourth year of employment (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year.

In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University.


A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

The Faculty of Veterinary Medicine has a unique position in the Netherlands. Not only is this the only institution where veterinarians are trained, researchers are also working together on innovative scientific research. In addition, the faculty provides specialist clinical care in the largest academic veterinary hospital in Europe. Thanks to this position, the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine is a point of contact for all veterinary matters, both nationally and increasingly internationally. The faculty employs approximately 900 veterinarians, scientists and support staff and counts 1.500 students.


  • PhD
  • 36—40 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1202664



Yalelaan 112, 3584 CM, Utrecht

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