Postdoctoral Researcher: Microbial Metabolite Biomarkers for Immunotherapy Outcome

Updated: 24 days ago
Deadline: 20 May 2024

1.0 FTE

Gross monthly salary
€ 3,226 - € 5,090

Required background

Organizational unit
Faculty of Science

Application deadline
20 May 2024

Apply now

Are you fascinated by the way our gut microbiome affects immunotherapy outcome, and are you looking for a project at the interface of analytical biochemistry, microbiology and clinical practice? The Department of Microbiology of the Radboud Institute for Biological and Environmental Sciences (RIBES) is looking for a Postdoctoral Researcher who is enthusiastic about discovering microbial metabolites that predict the outcome of lung cancer immunotherapy using targeted and untargeted LC-MS methods.

Immunotherapy has become the treatment of choice for many cancers but the treatment is expensive and the outcome variable. Biomarkers that predict treatment outcome are thus highly desired.

Several studies have shown that our gut microbiome affects the response to and toxicity of cancer immunotherapy. The mechanism underlying this correlation can be mediated by direct or indirect interactions between gut microbes and the immune system, but microbial metabolites are thought to be key mediators.

Among the microbial metabolites found in humans, small chain fatty acids (SCFAs) such as butyrate have emerged as potential mediators affecting response, but validation studies in large cohorts are lacking. In this project, you will validate the predictive value of plasma SCFAs for cancer immunotherapy response in a large cohort of non-small cell lung cancer patients and provide a solid basis for clinical implementation of these promising biomarkers.

Even though SCFAs have consistently emerged as predictive metabolites, the spectrum of microbiome-derived metabolites in humans is much wider and remains largely unexplored. In this project, you will use untargeted metabolomics to discover other microbial metabolites that could serve as predictive biomarkers and entry point into new immunomodulatory mechanisms.
In this project, you will develop and validate quantitative LC-MS methods for microbial metabolites with suspected immunomodulatory activity (eg. SCFAs). You will apply these methods to plasma samples collected in the ongoing multicentre DEDICATION (NVALT 30) study coordinated by the Radboud university medical center. You will also analyse these samples using untargeted metabolomics to search for new predictive microbial metabolites.

You will communicate your results at interdisciplinary DEDICATION meetings and at international meetings and in scientific journals. To help our postdoctoral researchers receive training, develop their personal and professional skills and prepare for the future, they are organised through an institutional Postdoc Platform.

  • You should hold a PhD in bioanalytical chemistry or a related field.
  • You have experience with or look forward to learning untargeted metabolomics.
  • You have good communication skills.
  • You enjoy working in an interdisciplinary team.
  • Experience with microbiome research is a plus but not required.

We are

This RVO-funded project will be carried out in Robert Jansen’s Functional Metabolomics group (link is external) , which uses untargeted metabolomics to discover the function of uncharacterised enzymes and metabolites in microbes. The group is embedded in the Department of Microbiology of the Radboud Institute for Biological and Environmental Sciences (RIBES). The project will be performed in close collaboration with the Department of Pharmacy (link is external) and the Department of Pulmonary Diseases (link is external) of the Radboud university medical center.

The Department of Microbiology comprises an enthusiastic and devoted team of researchers who closely collaborate in a flat organisational structure. Harmonious and productive collaboration and synergy are key to our success. The Department has state-of-the-art equipment for sequencing and data analysis, light and electron microscopy, and metabolomics, an MLII lab, a large bioreactor facility, and infrastructure for anaerobic microbiology, as well as facilities for biochemical, molecular and physiological work. Our mission is to conduct research at the forefront of microbial ecology and physiology and biogeochemistry with the main aim of understanding the diversity of microorganisms responsible for the biogeochemical cycling of nitrogen and carbon, and host-microbe interactions. We have expertise in microbial metabolomics, microbial cell biology and biochemistry, environmental microbiology, microbial biotechnology, geomicrobiology and biogeochemistry, and microbial ecophysiology and microbial meta-omics. In addition, exciting opportunities exist to enhance your teaching skills in BSc or MSc courses in our Microbiology programmes and for BSc and MSc students to work on your project.

The Department of Microbiology is part of the Radboud Institute for Biological and Environmental Sciences (RIBES). RIBES aims to perform world-leading research to understand the response of the natural environment to human impact. Research at RIBES encompasses three major groups of organisms (microorganisms, plants and animals) and spans nearly all levels of biological organisation. The institute is organised in three departments: Ecology and Physiology, Environmental Science, and Microbiology.

Radboud University

At Radboud University, we aim to make an impact through our work. We achieve this by conducting groundbreaking research, providing high-quality education, offering excellent support, and fostering collaborations within and outside the university. In doing so, we contribute indispensably to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. To accomplish this, we need even more colleagues who, based on their expertise, are willing to search for answers. We advocate for an inclusive community and welcome employees with diverse backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives. Will you also contribute to making the world a little better? You have a part to play.

If you want to learn more about working at Radboud University, follow our Instagram account (link is external) and read stories from our colleagues.

Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science (FNWI), part of Radboud University, engages in groundbreaking research and excellent education. In doing so, we push the boundaries of scientific knowledge and pass that knowledge on to the next generation.
We seek solutions to major societal challenges, such as cybercrime and climate change and work on major scientific challenges, such as those in the quantum world. At the same time, we prepare our students for careers both within and outside the scientific field.
Currently, more than 1,300 colleagues contribute to research and education, some as researchers and lecturers, others as technical and administrative support officers. The faculty has a strong international character with staff from more than 70 countries. Together, we work in an informal, accessible and welcoming environment, with attention and space for personal and professional development for all.

We offer
  • We will give you a temporary employment contract of two years.
  • Your salary within salary scale 10 depends on your previous education and number of years of (relevant) work experience. The amounts in the scale are based on a 38-hour working week.
  • You will receive an 8% holiday allowance and an 8,3% end-of-year bonus. 
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Support Service . The Dual Career Programme assists your partner via support, tools, and resources to improve their chances of independently finding employment in the Netherlands. Our Family Support Service helps you and your partner feel welcome and at home by providing customised assistance in navigating local facilities, schools, and amenities. Also take a look at our support for international staff page to discover all our services for international employees.
  • You will receive extra days off. With full-time employment, you can choose between 30 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the statutory 20. 

Additional employment conditions

Work and science require good employment practices. Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions reflect this. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself. For example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports membership. And, of course, we offer a good pension plan. We also give you plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.

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Practical information and applying

You can apply no later than 20 May only via the button below. Address your letter of application to Robert Jansen. In the application form, you will find which documents you need to include with your application.

The first interviews will take place on 29 May. Any second interview will take place on 5 June. You will preferably start your employment on 1 July 2024.
We can imagine you're curious about our application procedure . It describes what you can expect during the application procedure and how we handle your personal data and internal and external candidates. If you wish to apply for a non-scientific position with a non-EU nationality, please take notice of the following information (link is external) . 

Apply now Application deadline 20 May 2024

We would like to recruit our new colleague ourselves. Acquisition in response to this vacancy will not be appreciated.

Would you like more information?
Dr R.S. Jansen (Robert)

[email protected]
Last modified: 08 May 2024
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