Postdoctoral researcher in protease research

Updated: about 2 months ago

Department: Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences
Regime Full-time

Let’s shape the future – University of Antwerp

The Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences at the University of Antwerp is seeking to fill a full-time (100%) vacancy in the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences for a postdoctoral researcher in protease research.

Job description

You will be working in the research group Medical Biochemistry (LMB, ) in close collaboration with Medicinal Chemistry (UAMC) and Molecular Imaging and Radiology (MIRA)  on selective and potent targeting of Tumor Micro-Environment Proteases. The research topic fits well within the mission of LMB, which is to “unravel the structure-function relationship of serine proteases with a relevance in human (patho)physiology”. LMB closely collaborates with UAMC that has a strong track record in the discovery and characterization of potent and specific protease inhibitors, ligands and (imaging) probes. This research line is supported by multiple international collaborations and European grants. The collaboration with MIRA enables translational use of these compounds in the field of PET diagnostics and moving leads closer to the clinic. 

Research topic: Various proteases play an important role in the tumor microenvironment (TME). Hence, tackling tumors by targeting these TME proteases is a very promising approach in the fight against cancer. FAPIs, highly potent and selective probes based on UAMC1110, an inhibitor developed at the UAntwerp, are currently evaluated in clinical studies. In contrast, the targeting of other highly relevant TME proteases is lagging. Granzyme B (GRZB) is the most abundant protease present in the granules of cytotoxic immune cells present in the TME and plays a role in the targeted tumor cell destruction. Despite decades of research, many aspects of GRZB immunobiology remain enigmatic. It is currently unknown which percentage of GRZB is active in the TME. To study whether imaging or measuring active GRZB levels has advantages over visualizing total GRZB, there is a need for selective and high affinity GRZB probes. Given the potential of GRZB in cancer diagnosis and treatment, this research line aims to reinvigorate the quest for the generation of highly selective GRZB inhibitors starting from a literature-based lead compound. You will be challenged to determine the high-resolution structure of this inhibitor – GRZB complex to fuel rational ligand design. The labs participating in this call are involved in the recently funded OncoProTools  (Protease-guided tumor targeting tools to revolutionize cancer diagnostics and treatment) HE-MSCA-Doctoral Network.

Next to experimental research, you will apply for a postdoctoral fellowship via FWO  (‘junior postdoctoral fellowship’) and/or HORIZON-MSCA-postdoctoral fellowship  in the 2024 call (submission in September 2023 for MSCA and December 2023 for FWO fellowship).  

Profile and requirements

  • You hold a doctoral degree (PhD) or you will have obtained a PhD before September 2023 in Pharmaceutical Sciences, Biomedical or Biochemistry Sciences or Medicine, Exact Sciences, Bio-engineering Sciences.
  • Expertise in protein expression, purification and high-resolution structure determination is an asset.
  • You did not reside, study or work in Belgium for more than 24 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the recruitment date (eligibility rule for postdoc with a subsidy).
  • You comply with the eligibility conditions for a junior FWO postdoctoral fellowship  and/or for a MSCA European Postdoctoral Fellowship  (p.7)
  • Your academic qualities comply with the requirements stipulated in the university’s policy .
  • You will co-supervise PhD students.
  • You are quality-oriented, team-oriented, conscientious, creative and cooperative.
  • You have strong communication skills.
  • You are fluent in academic English (speaking and writing).

We offer

  • An appointment as a postdoctoral researcher for a period of one yearDuring this year, you will be actively assisted in applying for personal fellowships (FWO and/or MSCA postdoctoral fellowship) with a topic in the above-mentioned theme and with the laboratory of Medical Biochemistry as hosting laboratory. You will have access to grant writing workshops and our excellent expertise in (inter)national fellowship applications.
  • Access to state-of-the-art infrastructure for protein (bio)chemistry is available in house or in neighbouring institutes.
  • Dedicated training programs available at UAntwerp to broaden your expertise and enhance your skillset
  • The date of appointment: July 1, 2023, or soon after that date.
  • Your monthly scholarship amount is calculated according to the scholarship amounts  for postdoctoral scholarship holders on the pay scales for Contract Research Staff (Dutch: Bijzonder Academisch Personeel, BAP).
  • You will work in an interdisciplinary, international and stimulating working environment.
  • Click here to find out more about working at the University of Antwerp and the related benefits.

How to apply?

  • You can apply for this vacancy through the University of Antwerp’s online job application platform up to and including February 6th , 2023 (by midnight Brussels time). Click on the 'Apply' button, complete the online application form and be sure to include the following attachments: 1) a detailed CV and 2) a letter of motivation with contact details of two referees.
  • A pre-selection will be made from amongst the submitted applications. These candidates will be invited for an online interview that will take place mid-February (exact date will be communicated).
  • The remainder of the selection procedure is specific to the position and will be determined by the selection panel.
  • If you have any questions about the online application form, please check the frequently asked questions  or send an email to . For questions about the profile and the description of duties, please contact Prof. Ingrid De Meester ( ).

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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