Postdoc position: development of an in vitro intestine immune baby-like model

Postdoc position: development of an in vitro intestine immune baby-like model

Published Deadline Location
21 May 18 Jun Wageningen

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Job description

Your Job
When babies are born, their metabolism and physiology need to adjust to the new environment, including encountering of many foreign substances such as pathogens and food components. This adjustment is crucial in order to prevent the development of neonatal inflammatory intestinal diseases such as NEC, which will increase the chance of intestinal complications later in life. A rapid maturation of the neonatal intestine-immune system is therefore crucial. However, studying gut development to understand these diseases is challenging, as it is difficult to obtain information from either healthy or diseased neonates for ethical reasons. Understanding and improving intestine-immune maturation will lead to a decrease in early-life diseases and its consequences thereafter, as a healthy start in life decreases the risk of diseases later in life. Understanding intestine-immune maturation in vitro solves this ethical issue, and may lead to approaches to improve this maturation, thereby decreasing early-life diseases and its consequences thereafter. Therefore, the aim of this project is to develop an in vitro intestine-immune co-culture model that represents a new-born baby to investigate the effects of nutritional components on intestine-immune maturation.

The main source of nutrients shaping intestine and immune development in early life is milk, which is the only source of nutrients for infants in the first four months and remains the main source for the first year. Components such as proteins, pre-, pro- and postbiotics, and lipids underlie intestine-immune maturation. Although human milk is known to be the best source of these nutrients, donated human milk or infant formula may be used if mother’s own milk cannot cover the requirements. Infant formulas containing different combinations of components could differently affect intestine-immune maturation. Additionally, processing such as heating can affect the efficacy of these components. Next to processing, also the digestion of these components is relevant, as components entering the small intestine, where they impact intestine-immune maturation, have undergone gastric digestion.

Your role in the project:
Within this project, where you will be working within a consortium with different scientific researchers as well as companies, your main tasks will include:
  • literature research and optimization of current in vitro protocols for intestinal and immune cells;
  • iPSC and primary immune cell culture;
  • flow cytometry;
  • measuring cellular responses, e.g. using ELISA, LegendPlex, qPCR and phagocytosis assays;
  • in vitro digestion experiments;
  • data analysis and publishing scientific papers.


Wageningen University & Research


For this position we are looking for someone with:
  • a PhD degree in biology, biomedical sciences, life sciences or a related field;
  • experience with iPSC culture is a main requirement;
  • a strong background in immunology;
  • experience with techniques such as ELISA, flow cytometry or qPCR;
  • affinity with dairy or food science ingredients & functionality.

You should be able to work independently, have analytical thinking, and develop initiatives
In our international working environment there is an increasing amount of communication in English. For this position it is about language level C1.

You can see that there are plenty of challenges ahead of you. These challenges can also be seen as development opportunities. So if you do not yet have the track-record required in the vacancy, but do have solid work experience, we would also like to invite you to apply.

Conditions of employment

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
  • sabbatical leave, study leave, and partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will of course receive a good salary. Depending on your experience, we offer a competitive gross salary of between €3226,- and €5090,- for a full-time working week of 38 hours, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale 10). . Initially, we offer you a one-year contract, which will then be extended with 2 more years if there is mutual enthusiasm. Of course, we would be happy to discuss this with you if you have any questions.

Wageningen University & Research encourages internal advancement opportunities and mobility with an internal recruitment policy. There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “Best University” in the Netherlands for the 19th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees.
Because we expect you to work and live in the Netherlands our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about for example helping your partner to find a job, housing, or schooling. Finally, certain categories of international staff may be eligible for a tax exemption on a part of their salary during the first five years in the Netherlands.


Wageningen University & Research

The mission of Wageningen University & Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment. With its roughly 30 branches, 7,600 employees (6,700 fte) and 13,100 students and over 150,000 participants to WUR’s Life Long Learning, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. The unique Wageningen approach lies in its integrated approach to issues and the collaboration between different disciplines.

You will work here
This research will be executed within the chair Food Quality and Design (Prof. dr. Kasper Hettinga). Your supervisors will be Dr. Tamara Hoppenbrouwers and Prof. dr. Kasper Hettinga.

Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus!

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves and do not appreciate unasked for services from recruitment agencies. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.


  • Postdoc
  • Food
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €3226—€5090 per month
  • Doctorate
  • P1522598-1


Wageningen University & Research

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Droevendaalsesteeg, 6708 PB, Wageningen

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