2 PhD Researchers: Peptide Antibiotics (2 x 1,0 fte), Utrecht University (Universiteit)

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2 PhD Researchers: Peptide Antibiotics (2 x 1,0 fte)

Many bacteria, including important zoonotic species, such as Salmonella and E. coli, have demonstrated to rapidly develop resistance to antibiotics used in veterinary and human medicine. The abundant use in veterinary medicine has resulted in the formation of reservoirs of multidrug-resistant bacteria in farm animals. Antibiotics are needed that do not elicit resistance in micro-organisms. In this project we aim to develop novel antibiotics based on natural defence molecules from animals: Host Defence Peptides (HDPs).
HDPs use multiple mechanisms to kill bacteria. The multiple actions of HDPs have precluded the development of resistance despite the fact that these peptides are part of the natural host defence of animals for millions of years. Besides direct antimicrobial killing of pathogens, the role of HDPs in the regulation of immune functions of the host is an equally important aspect of their protective function. We have identified several HDPs in farm animals that have both antimicrobial and immunomodulatory activities. These activities were related to structural elements of the HDPs. The mechanisms of action of these HDPs have not yet been determined.
The task of candidate 1 is to determine the mechanisms of bacterial killing by selected HDPs and by HDP-derived peptides. The task of candidate 2 is to delineate mechanisms of immunomodulation by the peptides. Ultimately, modified peptides will be designed that exhibit improved antibacterial and immunomodulatory activities and are degraded slowly in vivo. You will be part of a team that includes investigators from the Academic Centre for Dentistry Amsterdam, the University of Tübingen (Germany) and a large pharmaceutical industry.

You should have:

  • a Master’s degree in life sciences or equivalent;
  • affinity with microbiology (candidate 1), immunology (candidate 2) and peptide chemistry;
  • interest to collaborate with scientists in academia, research institutes and industry.

Candidates from the European Union and North America are eligible for this position.

We offer a full-time temporary appointment for 1 year, with the perspective of prolongation with another 3 years.
The salary starts at € 2,042.- and increases to € 2,612.- gross per month in the fourth year of the appointment (scale P of the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities), depending on previous qualifications and experience. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and an end-of-year bonus of 8.3% per year.
There are outstanding secondary benefits, which include: a minimum of 29 holiday days per year, an arrangement for study facilities, generous contributions to healthcare, childcare, a pension scheme and flexible employment conditions. For more information, visit the website.

The Division Molecular Host Defence of the Department of Infectious Diseases and Immunology focuses on host defence peptides and proteins of the innate immune system. The aims of the group are: (1) to understand the mechanisms of action of these molecules and (2) to apply the acquired knowledge to develop new strategies to prevent and treat infections in humans and animals. Utrecht University’s Faculty of Veterinary Medicine is the only Veterinary School in the Netherlands, and ranks internationally amongst the highest in education, scientific research and clinical care. The faculty employs approximately 1000 veterinarians, scientists and support staff and, to facilitate the attainment of ‘critical mass’, its research functions are coordinated centrally by the Institute of Veterinary Sciences. Further information concerning the faculty is available at the website http://www.uu.nl/faculty/veterinarymedicine/, while general information about Utrecht University can be found at www.uu.nl.

Additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from: prof. dr. Henk P. Haagsman, e-mail: h.p.haagsman@uu.nl, telephone: +31 30 253 5354 or dr. Edwin Veldhuizen, e-mail: e.j.a.veldhuizen@uu.nl, telephone: +31 30 253 5361. Please do not send your application to these addresses.

Please send your written application, including a letter of motivation, curriculum vitae and names and contact details of at least two references before 05-09-2011.
Interviews will be held on 19th and 20th September 2011.

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