5 PhD positions in the Pig Paradigm project

Updated: about 1 month ago

We are looking for

Do you want to contribute to a better understanding of pig intestinal microbiome development during early life, and how this affects pig intestinal health and resilience to enteric infections and the need for antibiotics? Do you have experience with microbial ecology, host-microbiome interactions, organoids, immunology or systems biology? Then we are looking for you!

WUR is hiring 5 PhD candidates and one postdoctoral researcher (all 4 years, full-time employment) to become part of PIG-PARADIGM. In this project funded by the Novo Nordisk Foundation , we aim to decipher interactions of the developing pig, its diet and its intestinal microbiome, as well as the effect of post-weaning stress on intestinal mucosa functioning and susceptibility to infections. We want to turn that knowledge into new strategies for healthier pigs. We will study how members of the intestinal microbiome interact with each other and with the host intestine using advanced organoid-based models, and whether changes in the diet or the environment affect the intestinal microbiome so that less antibiotics are required. You will work in a team that is passionate about the role microbiomes play in the health of humans, animals and our environment.

The following positions are available:
PhD 1: Biogeography of pig intestinal microbiomes
PhD 1 will study the development of microbiomes throughout the intestine of developing pigs. You will establish, how these microbiomes, including bacteria, fungi, archaea and viruses, are linked to health and resilience to diarrhoeal diseases particularly around weaning.

PhD 2: Assembly and resilience of pig intestinal microbiomes
PhD 2 will investigate microbiome assembly rules and interactions between individual strains within the developing pig intestinal microbiome. You will study functional and compositional dynamics of representative natural and synthetic microbiomes grown in batch- as well as continuous reactor systems. The interaction of these microbiomes with the host will be studied in host-microbe models developed by the postdoc.

PhD 3: Microbiome signatures of pig health
PhD 3 will analyse microbiome composition during pre- and post-weaning stages in subsets of piglets, post-hoc selected from a large cohort based on distinct post-weaning health and disease phenotypes. Microbiome signatures will be employed to develop multivariate statistical models to predict health outcomes. These models will be integrated with host-phenotype and genotype data to obtain host-microbe predictive models related to post-weaning diarrhoea risk.

PhD 4: Pig intestinal cell models
PhD 4 will use genetic engineering of intestinal porcine stem cells to programme differentiation into primary intestinal epithelial endocrine cells. These will be used to identify metabolites inducing GLP-2 and other specific paracrine or endocrine hormones regulating epithelial proliferation, blood flow, gut barrier function and digestive processes in the mucosa or via the blood circulation and enteric nervous system. This research will be translated into nutritional interventions to prevent diarrhoea and vulnerability to enteric infections in newly weaned pigs.

PhD 5: FAIR pig intestinal microbiome catalogue
PhD 5 will apply a multitude of computational methods to characterize the taxonomic composition, functional potential and the antimicrobial resistome load of pig intestinal microbiomes. Data will be harmonized so that FAIR microbiome profiles can be generated and integrated in an annotated pig intestinal microbiome catalogue that will be of direct use to PIG-PARADIGM as well as the broader scientific community.

We ask

Researchers at the Laboratory of Microbiology, Host-Microbe Interactomics, Systems and Synthetic Biology and Wageningen Livestock Research join forces with teams at Aarhus University, the University of Copenhagen and Aalborg University in Denmark, and the University of California, Davis in the United States. Will you join this team?

We are looking for PhD candidates that have:

  • an MSc degree in Microbiology, Biotechnology, Bioinformatics, Molecular Life Sciences, Animal Sciences or related field;
  •  intrinsic interest to independently search for answers on fundamental and applied research questions;
  • excellent communication skills and proficiency in English (both oral and written);
  • the ability to work in international and multidisciplinary research teams;
  • passed for an English proficiency test (e.g. TOEFLL or IELTS) or have an approved English MSc degree.

We offer

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment . A few highlights from our  Collective Labour Agreement include:

  • study leave and partially paid parental leave;
  • working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
  • the option to accrue additional compensation / holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
  • there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
  • a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team.

The gross salary for the first year is € 2.541,- per month rising to € 3247,- in the fourth year in according to the

Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU)

(scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours. We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well.

There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “ Best University ” in the Netherlands for the 17th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad
Wageningen University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees. Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief , known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen. Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.

More information

Do you want more information?
For more information about this position or the procedure, please contact Prof. dr. Hauke Smidt, Head of the Microbial Ecology Group at the Laboratory of Microbiology, telephone +31 317 483 102 or by e-mail: Hauke.smidt@wur.nl .

Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly by uploading your CV and motivation letter, using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.

Please mention the name of the PhD position you apply for in your motivation letter.

This vacancy will be listed up to and including the 22nd of August 2022.

Wageningen University & Research (WUR) employs a large number of people with very different backgrounds and qualities, who inspire and motivate each other. We want every talent to feel at home in our organisation and be offered the same career opportunities. We therefore especially welcome applications from people who are underrepresented at WUR. For more information please go to our inclusivity page . A good example of how WUR deals with inclusiveness can be read on the page working at WUR with a functional impairment .

We are

The mission of Wageningen University and Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With its roughly 30 branches, 7.200 employees and 13.200 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen’s unique approach. WUR has been named the best university of the Netherlands by students for the 17th time in a row.

Read the 5 reasons why your future colleagues enjoy working at WUR and watch this video to get an idea of our green campus!

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