PhD Position Rheumatic Digital Twin | Integrating Clinical and Omics Data

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: 22 Jun 2024

24 May 2024
Job Information

Delft University of Technology (TU Delft)
Research Field

Researcher Profile

First Stage Researcher (R1)

Application Deadline

22 Jun 2024 - 21:59 (UTC)
Type of Contract

Job Status

Not Applicable
Hours Per Week

Is the job funded through the EU Research Framework Programme?

Not funded by an EU programme
Is the Job related to staff position within a Research Infrastructure?


Offer Description

We are looking for a highly motivated candidate for a PhD project that focusses on the development of novel computational methods for the stratification of patients with inflammatory rheumatic disease by integrating patient data from the clinic and various types of omics resources.

In short

  • You will develop and apply integrative computational methods to propose novel phenotypic subtypes of inflammatory rheumatic disease and analyse various types of omics data to identify biomarkers that would guide the development of future diagnostic assays.
  • You will work in a highly multi-disciplinary environment ranging from data scientists to treating rheumatologists with the focus to develop and translate novel algorithms for patient stratification to a clinical setting.
  • You will actively disseminate your work by writing scientific manuscripts and presenting your research at international conferences.

The research

Clinical need: Rheumatic diseases are chronic inflammatory conditions affecting joints and cartilage and are characterized by their progressive and disabling nature. Rheumatic diseases display a wide heterogeneity stemming from complex interactions between genetics and environmental factors, and frequently lead to chronic autoimmune responses causing severe joint and cartilage damage. A timely recognition of rheumatic diseases in all its subtypes is therefore essential.

Ongoing work: In close collaboration with the dept. of Rheumatology of the Leiden University Medical Centre, we work on the development of algorithms to stratify incoming patients with suspect rheumatic disease using large resources of observational and routine diagnostic data. We are proud to do this as a partner in a European Union-funded SPIDeRR consortium ( ) using data from general practitioners and hospitals throughout Europe.

Your project: Within our consortium, we set out to evaluate various omics data types such as auto-antibody panels, NMR metabolomics, and RNA sequencing for their potential to enhance the speed and accuracy of IRD diagnoses. For this purpose, you will complement routine diagnostic data with omics data and compute patient-patient similarities to comprehensively map the entire spectrum of IRDs into a landscape of IRD patients, referred to as the ‘inflammatory Rheumatic Digital Twin (iRDT)’, which can be used to guide the diagnosis and treatment of future patients. Next to the developing the methods to integrate the data, you will investigate: 1) to what extent do omics resources underpin patient stratifications obtained using an iRDT based on routine diagnostic data only; 2) whether your patient groupings are more informative on treatment outcomes; and 3) what molecular mechanisms differ between the data-driven patient groupings.

Specific Requirements

You hold a MSc degree in bioinformatics, computer sciences, statistics, life sciences or a similar area. You possess a strong background in data analytics and machine learning methods. You enjoy gaining, combining, and translating knowledge from multiple fields and have an optimistic and kind nature.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements .

Additional Information

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2770 per month in the first year to € 3539 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged.

For international applicants, TU Delft has the Coming to Delft Service . This service provides information for new international employees to help you prepare the relocation and to settle in the Netherlands. The Coming to Delft Service offers a Dual Career Programme for partners and they organise events to expand your (social) network.

The project will be conducted at the Pattern Recognition & Bioinformatics group from the Delft University of Technology, led by Prof. Marcel Reinders, under daily supervision of Dr. Erik van den Akker. Both are also appointed at the Leiden Computational Biology Center (LCBC) of the Leiden University Medical Center, aimed at developing and applying state-of-the-art data science techniques in the biological and medical domain. The project is in close collaboration with the department of rheumatology led by prof Tom Huizinga and embedded within the rheumatology data science lab led by Dr. Rachel Knevel, who also recently joined the LCBC. We have weekly multi-disciplinary work discussions featuring data scientists, epidemiologists, statisticians, and medical doctors.

Selection process

Interested applicants should upload, before June 22, 2024, an up-to-date curriculum vitae, degree transcripts, letter of application, and the names and the contact information (telephone number and email address) of two referees. The letter of application should summarise (1) why the applicant wants the position, (2) why the project is of interest to the applicant, (3) evidence of suitability for the job, and (4) what the applicant hopes to gain from the position.

The application procedure is ongoing until the position is filled. Interested candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible. Note that candidates who apply after the deadline may still be considered but applications before the deadline will be given priority. For information about the application procedure, please contact Dr. Erik van den Akker.

  • A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • You can apply online. We will not process applications sent by email and/or post.
  • Please do not contact us for unsolicited services.

Additional comments

For more information about this position, please contact Dr. Erik van den Akker Computational Biologist and Principal Investigator. Department of Biomedical Data Sciences +31(0)71 526 85 57. [email protected] .

Website for additional job details

Work Location(s)
Number of offers available
Delft University of Technology
Postal Code
2628 CD
Mekelweg 2

Where to apply



Mekelweg 2
Postal Code

2628 CD


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