PhD Position Project NWO OC XL Metabolism

PhD Position Project NWO OC XL Metabolism

Published Deadline Location
30 Apr 9 Jun Amsterdam

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Understanding the robustness of next generation microbial cell factories.

Job description

Microbial cell factories are engineered microorganisms that sustainably produce valuable compounds, from biofuels to fine chemicals. Product pathways in these factories are designed to yield desired compounds, with electron flow control being a critical engineering challenge, particularly for optimizing yield. Redox cofactors like NAD+/NADH play a key role in electron transfer, but their involvement in numerous reactions can lead to unintended effects when adjusting product pathways. Our project focuses on minimizing these effects by separating the pathways and metabolic networks, assigning NAD+/NADH for assimilation and a non-canonical redox cofactor for product formation.

In this NWO-XL project 7 PhD students and 2 postdocs from the VU, Wageningen and TU Delft work together to produce such novel cell factories. The role of this PhD position at the VU is to understand the fitness impact of the redox cofactor engineering, and to test robustness of engineered strains. We combine mathematical models (in collaboration with another VU PhD student) with laboratory evolution and physiological characterisation of strains in E. coli and S. cerevisiae.


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)


A Master in a relevant field, such as microbiology, biotechnology, (bio)physics, or systems biology, or equivalent.

  • Experience in, or affinity with, microbial laboratory evolution and cell physiology
  • Experience in, or affinity with, the use of computational methods in biological contexts
  • Problem solving
  • Independent but willing to ask for help
  • Curious
  • Communicative in word and text

As a university, we strive for equal opportunities for all, recognising that diversity takes many forms. We believe that diversity in all its complexity is invaluable for the quality of our teaching, research and service. We are always looking for talent with diverse backgrounds and experiences. This also means that we are committed to creating an inclusive community so that we can use diversity as an asset.

We realise that each individual brings a unique set of skills, expertise and mindset. Therefore we are happy to invite anyone who recognises themselves in the profile to apply, even if you do not meet all the requirements.

Conditions of employment

Fixed-term contract: 4 year.

A challenging position in a socially engaged organisation. At VU Amsterdam, you contribute to education, research and service for a better world. And that is valuable. So in return for your efforts, we offer you:
  • a salary of € 2.770,00 (PhD) and maximum € 3.539,00 (PhD) gross per month in the fourth year, for a full-time employment
  • your employment contract will initially last 1 year and prolonged to 4 years upon a positive evaluation.

We also offer you attractive fringe benefits and arrangements. Some examples:
  • A full-time 38-hour working week comes with a holiday leave entitlement of 232 hours per year. If you choose to work 40 hours, you have 96 extra holiday leave hours on an annual basis. For part-timers, this is calculated pro rata.
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge
  • discount on (and occasionally exclusive access to) theater performances and courses at the Griffioen Cultural Center
  • contribution to commuting expenses


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Faculty of Science
Researchers and students at VU Amsterdam’s Faculty of Science tackle fundamental and complex scientific problems to help pave the way for a sustainable and healthy future. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to malnutrition, and from molecules to the moon: we cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. Our teaching and research have a strong experimentally technical, computational and interdisciplinary nature. Your project will take part in the Systems Biology Lab (, part of AIMMS, the molecule research accelerator ( We offer a multidisciplinary research environment with room for personal development.

We work on new solutions guided by value-driven, interdisciplinary methodologies. We are committed to research, valorisation and training socially engaged citizens of the world who will make valuable contributions to a sustainable, healthy future.

Are you interested in joining the Faculty of Science? You will join undergraduate students, PhD candidates and researchers at the biggest sciences faculty in the Netherlands. You will combine a professional focus with a broad view of the world. We are proud of our collegial working climate, characterised by committed staff, a pragmatic attitude and engagement in the larger whole. The faculty is home to over 11,000 students enrolled in 40 study programmes. It employs over 1,600 professionals spread across 10 academic departments.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam stands for values-driven education and research. We are open-minded experts with the ability to think freely. - a broader mind. Maintaining an entrepreneurial perspective and concentrating on diversity, significance and humanity, we work on sustainable solutions with social impact. By joining forces, across the boundaries of disciplines, we work towards a better world for people and planet. Together we create a safe and respectful working and study climate, and an inspiring environment for education and research. Learn more about our codes of conduct

We are located on one physical campus, in the heart of Amsterdam's Zuidas business district, with excellent location and accessibility. Over 5,500 staff work at the VU and over 30,000 students attend academic education.

Diversity is the driving force of the VU. The VU wants to be accessible and receptive to diversity in disciplines, cultures, ideas, nationalities, beliefs, preferences and worldviews. We believe that trust, respect, interest and differences lead to new insights and innovation, to sharpness and clarity, to excellence and a broader understanding.

We stand for an inclusive community and believe that diversity and internationalisation contribute to the quality of education, research and our services.

Therefore, we are always searching for people whose backgrounds and experience contribute to the diversity of the VU community.


  • PhD
  • Natural sciences
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 3995


Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU)

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De Boelelaan 1108, 1081HZ, Amsterdam

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