Doctoral scholarship holder in the domain of medicine: hepatology and gastroenterology

Updated: about 11 hours ago

Department: Translational Research in Immunology and Inflammation
Regime Full-time

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The Laboratory of Experimental Medicine and Pediatrics  (LEMP) belongs to the Department of Translational Sciences in Immunology and Inflammation (TWI²N) of the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences and is looking for a full-time doctoral scholarship holder in the domain of Medicine (hepatology and gastroenterology).


  • You are actively working on the preparation and defense of a doctoral thesis in the domain of hepatology and gastroenterology. You are investigating the role of fibroblast activation protein (FAP) in the pathogenesis of metabolic dysfunction-associated steatohepatitis (MASH)-induced fibrosis (and its relation to impaired vascular biology), and in inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD). You use advanced hemodynamic, imaging, and molecular techniques to unravel the pathophysiological role of FAP, as well as to study the role of FAPIs (radiolabeled derivatives of a potent FAP inhibitor) as diagnostic and therapeutic agents. You will also use human samples from the MASLD and IBD biobank to translationally investigate the clinical relevance of these findings
  • You will publish scientific articles related to the research project.
  • You participate in this interuniversity project and its meetings, presenting your results at these gatherings as well as at national and international meetings.
  • You take on a limited package of teaching and research support tasks within the Department of Translational Sciences in Immunology and Inflammation, Laboratory for Experimental Medicine and Pediatrics, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. You will also interact with the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology of the UZA for the clinical aspect of the research.

Abstract of the project: Metabolic dysfunction associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD) is the most prevalent chronic liver disease worldwide. Its more severe subtype of metabolic dysfunction associated steatohepatitis (MASH) can lead to progressive fibrosis and ultimately cirrhosis and the complications hereof. The pathophysiology of MASH and MASH-related fibrosis is poorly understood. We previously demonstrated that alterations of liver vascular biology occur early in the disease course and contribute to the development of steatohepatitis and fibrosis. Fibroblast activation protein (FAP) is a protease biomarker that is selectively expressed on activated fibroblasts, including activated stellate cells, and may play a pivotal role in MASH. UAMC1110 is a potent and selective FAP-inhibitor used as the FAP-targeting vector of the so-called FAPIs (radiolabeled derivatives of UAMC1110) that can be used as diagnostics or as therapeutics (‘theranostics’). In this project we will explore the role of FAP in MASH-related vascular alterations-induced (and hypoxia-driven) fibrosis and the diagnostic and therapeutic potential of pharmacologically optimized FAPIs. Different models of MASH will be investigated and an extensive set of vascular/inflammatory/fibrotic parameters including advanced imaging techniques will be used to understand the underlying mechanisms and the potential therapeutic improvements. Using samples from the large MASLD patient biobank, the relevance of the preclinical findings for clinical application will even so be investigated. As a side-project you will also investigate the role of FAB in an animal model of IBD.


  • You hold a Master degree in Medicine, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Veterinary Sciences or Bio-engineer or you will have obtained it by the time you start to work.
  • You are willing to compete for competitive funding on the project and personal scholarships.
  • You can demonstrate excellent study results.
  • Your teaching competences are in line with the University of Antwerp’s educational vision .
  • Your research qualities are in line with the faculty and university research policies .
  • You act with attention to quality, integrity, creativity and cooperation.
  • You have a strong interest in fundamental scientific research with clinical relevance.
  • You recognize the importance of ethic conduct.

What we offer

  • We offer a doctoral scholarship for a period of two years. Following a positive evaluation, the scholarship can be renewed once for another two-year period.
  • The planned start date is 1 October 2024  or as soon as possible after that date.
  • Your monthly scholarship amount is calculated according to the scholarship amounts  for doctoral scholarship holders on the pay scales for Contract Research Staff (Dutch: Bijzonder Academisch Personeel, BAP).
  • You will receive ecocheques, Internet-connectivity allowance and a bicycle allowance or a full reimbursement of public transport costs for commuting.
  • You will do most of your work at Campus Drie Eiken in a dynamic and stimulating working environment.
  • Find out more about working at the University of Antwerp here .

Want to apply?

  • You can apply for this vacancy through the University of Antwerp’s online job application platform up to and including 8 August 2024 (by midnight Brussels time). Click on the 'Apply' button and complete the online application form. Be sure to include the following attachments:
  • a motivation letter
  • your academic CV
  • The selection committee reviews all applications as soon as possible after the application deadline. As soon as a decision is made, we will notify you. If you are still eligible after the pre-selection, you will be informed about the possible next step(s) in the selection procedure. Please note the selection interviews will be held in the second week of September.
  • If you have any questions about the online application form, please check the frequently asked questions  or send an email to [email protected] . If you have any questions about the job itself, please contact Prof. Sven Francque, promotor of the PhD project, LEMP member and Head of the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at UZA ([email protected] , 03 821 45 72)

The University of Antwerp received the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Award  for its HR policy. We are a sustainable, family-friendly organisation which invests in its employees’ growth. We encourage diversity  and attach great importance to an inclusive working environment and equal opportunities, regardless of gender identity, disability, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age. We encourage people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse characteristics to apply.

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