PhD candidate - biology of induced pluripotent stem cells

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: 14 May 2021

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The Faculty of Science, Division Drug Discovery & Safety at the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR)  is looking for a

PhD candidate – biology of induced pluripotent stem cells for biochemical modeling of peripheral neurodegeneration

Project description
Induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) represent the starting point of development in the human embryo. Reprogramming of patient somatic cells into iPSCs and methods of genetic engineering by CRISPR-CAS9 can be used to create models of genetic disorders by directing the differentiation of the pluripotent cells to organoids that resemble human tissues, such as cerebral organoids. The Drukker lab has recently made key advancements in characterizing connections between localization of nuclear long coding RNAs (lncRNAs) and neurodegeneration, and created highly effective models of iPSC-motor neurons.

The goal of the PhD project is to test hypotheses related to protein aggregates in motor neuron models and their connection to disorders of peripheral neurodegeneration. A second goal of the project will be to develop and apply animal models of neurodegeneration, and analyze regeneration by transplanted human motor neurons. The candidate will apply sophisticated technologies of iPS differentiation to organoids, Crispr/Cas genetic editing, flow cytometry – cell sorting, single cell transcriptomics, live cell microscopy imaging and more in mechanistic and functional studies that involve in vivo models.

Selection criteria

  • A MSc in (Bio)-pharmaceutical Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Biology, or equivalent degree;
  • Enthusiastic and very ambitious;
  • Independent thinker;
  • Expertise in molecular and stem cell biology, microscopy, cell signaling;
  • Excellent writing and presentation skills;
  • Programming and bioinformatics skills will be an advantage;
  • Team player.

Our organisation
The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are committed to expand fundamental knowledge by curiosity and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future. For more information, see the website of the Faculty of Science .

The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is diverse, ranging from artificial intelligence, computer science, mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2,300 staff and almost 5,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.

The divisions of Drug Discovery and Safety (DDS) is part of the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR). Our institute is a centre of excellence for multidisciplinary research on drug discovery and development. Leiden University consistently ranks within the top-20 world-wide within the subject-based QS Ranking in Pharmacology and Pharmacy. At LACDR, we develop innovative scientific concepts in fundamental and translational research underlying the discovery and optimization of drugs, and personalised medicines. We aim to optimise the route to novel drugs that are both efficacious and safe, and therefore our research focuses on drug discovery and safety, bio-therapeutics, and systems biomedicine and pharmacology. State-of-the-art expertise and infrastructures ensure that we are strategically positioned in (inter)national collaborations, thus further strengthening the development of novel concepts and their application in a clinical and industry environment. More information about LACDR you find on the website

Leiden University is one of Europe's foremost research universities. Leiden is a lively and beautiful city with a central location in Europe, at only 17 minutes from Schiphol International Airport. It is a very international city where almost everybody speaks English, candidates need not be afraid of the language barrier. Leiden is a typical historic university city, hosting the oldest university in the Netherlands (1575). The University permeates the local surroundings; University premises are scattered throughout the city, and the students who live and study in Leiden give the city its relaxed yet vibrant atmosphere. Today, with some 27,000 students, 5,500 staff, 16 Nobel prizes, more than 100 nationalities and a budget of more than 550 million Euros, it is one of the largest comprehensive universities in Europe. This prominent position gives our graduates a leading edge in applying for academic posts and for functions outside academia.

Terms and conditions 
We offer a full-time, one year term position, with the possibility of renewal for an additional 3 years based on performance. Salary range from € 2.395,- to € 3.061,- gross per month (fulltime, pay scale P, depending on experience, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. For more information , see the website.

All our PhD students are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Science . Our graduate school offers several PhD training courses at three levels: professional courses, skills training and personal effectiveness. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the research school.

Diversity and work-life balance
Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups. LACDR is a highly diverse institute, in culture, background, and gender. We stand for excellence in a caring Institute. We wish to reflect society in all aspects, as we believe that this improves the dynamics in our organization. Therefore, we support and understand the need for a work/life/family balance and consequent varying working hours and places. We believe that doing good science is fun, and goes hand in hand with a friendly culture. In the Netherlands, a maternity allowance is standard for 16 weeks. Child care is available at and near the Bio Science Park.

For any questions, you are welcome to contact Micha Drukker, e-mail .
If you have any questions about the procedure, please contact Marjolijn Lugthart, email .

To apply for this vacancy, please send an email to Marjolijn Lugthart, email . Please ensure that you upload the following additional documents quoting the vacancy number:

  • Motivation letter;
  • Curriculum vitae;
  • Copies of diplomas and list of grades;
  • Preferably two reference letters.

Only applications received no later thanMay 14 2021 can be considered.

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