PhD Candidate in Microbiome-Enteric Neuroendocrine Axis in the Context of Parkinson's Disease

PhD Candidate in Microbiome-Enteric Neuroendocrine Axis in the Context of Parkinson's Disease

Published Deadline Location
19 Mar 19 Apr Amsterdam

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Job description

Do you enjoy working in an interdisciplinary research team? Are you eager to contribute to the understanding of the mechanisms guiding bacterial adaptation in challenging environments, with a keen focus on cell morphology, (genomic) diversity, and localization? Then the Microbiome Engineering Group, which is part of the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences in the Faculty of science at the University of Amsterdam, is the place to be.

The research group strives to enhance our current understanding of fields ranging from microbiology to human health. We invite enthusiastic and dedicated candidates to join our cutting-edge research team as a PhD student to delve into the exciting world of host-microbiome interactions. The position is supported by a recently awarded Parkinson’s Fonds grant.

What are you going to do?
In this interdisciplinary PhD project, you will use a combination of ex vivo models and samples from Parkinson’s patients. You will employ advanced imaging, electrophysiology, and molecular biology techniques, to investigate whether and how certain taxa within the microbiome may induce abnormal functional changes in the gut epithelia and the conformation of their residing α-synuclein, potentially leading to the development of Parkinson's disease.

Research Objectives: Your journey as a PhD candidate will revolve around two pivotal objectives:
  1. Screening assays: To investigate the effects of bacterial interactions with the PD gut, you will isolate bacteria from PD patients and healthy matching controls and screen them on a model of epithelial cells for changes in the function and structure of the cells using a combination of confocal microscopy and molecular techniques. You will identify the bacterial effector molecules responsible for the changes measured in the cells.
  2. Mechanistic studies: Here, you will study changes in gut function and neuroinflammation, and will verify the results for their correspondence with the phenotype and genotype previously reported in PD-derived tissue biopsies and blood samples. This will be performed in collaboration with RUSH university, USA.

During your PhD research, you will apply a variety of techniques, including (but not limited to) anaerobic bacterial isolation and culturing, whole genome sequencing, analytical chemistry for targeted (using HPLC) and untargeted (using LC-MS) metabolomics, transmission and scanning electron microscopy, enzymatic activity, bioassays to measure gut function.


University of Amsterdam (UvA)


Tasks and responsibilities:
  • complete a PhD thesis within the official appointment duration of four years;
  • perform anaerobic bacterial isolation and culturing;
  • apply molecular biology and imaging techniques;
  • ability to perform Bioinformatics and big data analysis, e.g. with Phyton,

R or related program languages (e.g. minor Programming or Bioinformatics);
  • perform your experiments in a systematic and well controlled manner and keep accurate

records by properly documenting and organizing your work;
  • be an active member of the research group and take responsibility for shared tasks;
  • discuss your work with the group members and during consortium meetings. Incorporate

feedback and give input to others;
  • take a leading role in writing manuscripts;
  • participate in the Faculty of Science PhD training program;
  • assist in teaching and supervise Bachelor and Master theses and tutoring students.

Ownership and Initiative: We are particularly interested in candidates who can take ownership of their research project and demonstrate initiative in driving their work forward. As a PhD student, you will have the opportunity to shape the direction of your research and contribute novel ideas to the field.

You will get the opportunity to:
  • present your results at (inter)national scientific meetings;
  • expand your academic, professional and personal skills;
  • get access to cutting-edge facilities and technologies for innovative research;
  • contribute to science communication and outreach efforts;
  • thrive in a vibrant, impactful research community.

What do you have to offer?
You have a MSc degree in Microbiology or Molecular-cell Biology. You are passionate about science and have a particular interest in the human microbiome. You enjoy performing experimental lab work (e.g., molecular biology, imaging, analytical chemistry, microbiology) and conducting data analyses through programming or other computational tools. You have a creative mind and look forward to work at the cutting-edge of technology. Finally, you are a team player and a pleasant colleague who enjoys being part of an interdisciplinary team of microbiology scientists.

Conditions of employment

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week, preferably starting on 1 July 2024, for the duration of 4 years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years). This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students.

Based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will range from € 2,770 in the first year to € 3,539 in the last year. This is exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here.


Faculty of Science

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 7,000, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences is one of the Faculty of Science’s largest institutes. Its approximately 240 scientists and staff members work in 19 research groups that perform excellent research centered on four themes: Neurosciences, Cell & Systems Biology, Microbiology and Green Life Sciences.

Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 19 April 2024. You can apply online by using the link below.

Studies show that women and members of underrepresented groups only apply for jobs if they meet 100% of the qualifications. Do you meet the educational requirements but do not yet have all the required experience? Then the UvA encourages you to apply anyway.

Applications in .pdf should include:
  • a detailed CV including the months (not just years) when referring to your education and work experience;
  • a letter of motivation;
  • the names and email addresses of two references who can provide letters of recommendation.

A knowledge security check can be part of the selection procedure (for details: National knowledge security guidelines).


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • University graduate
  • 12770


University of Amsterdam (UvA)

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Science Park 904, 1098XH, Amsterdam

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