PhD candidate: Development of an innovative therapy for arteriovenous fistula failure

Updated: 4 months ago
Deadline: 12 Feb 2023

PhD candidate: Development of an innovative therapy for arteriovenous fistula failure
PhD candidate: Development of an innovative therapy for arteriovenous fistula failure
Published Deadline Location
2 Feb 12 Feb Maastricht

The Pathology department within the School for Cardiovascular Diseases/CARIM is seeking to hire a PhD candidate (promovendus) in Barcoding atherosclerotic plaque cells: single cell sequencing to reveal heterogeneity and functional impact of atherosclerotic plaque cells
Job description

A position for a PhD-student is available in Professor Baker’s team in the experimental vascular Pathology Dept. ( ). The team is embedded in the Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht (CARIM) of Maastricht University Medical Center and studies the role of hypoxia, inflammation and matrix turnover in atherosclerosis.

Background and research positioning: Worldwide, approximately 3 million patients with end stage renal disease (ESRD) are being treated with hemodialysis in order to stay alive. Hemodialysis requires a high-flow vascular access site from which the blood is transported to the dialysis machine and vice versa. Preferably an arteriovenous fistula (AVF) is created surgically for this purpose, in which an artery is directly anastomosed to an adjacent vein, most frequently in the arm. In order to use the AVF for hemodialysis, the venous segment needs to expand in size to allow successful cannulation. In addition, a flow rate of >600 ml/min is required to dialyze effectively. In up to 50% of AVFs, this process of AVF maturation is insufficient, whereupon additional surgical interventions are needed to improve the functionality of the AVF. However, these interventions frequently fail, as 25% of AVFs that are created in the forearm cannot be used for hemodialysis at all. Besides maturation failure, vascular access stenosis, as a result of intimal hyperplasia (IH) and negative remodelling, is the culprit cause of failed fistulas. We and others have shown that Smooth Muscle Cells (SMCs), extracellular matrix components and inflammatory cells are involved. However, the exact mechanistic processes remain unresolved and underexplored at the basic science level. Moreover, considering more recent technologies in single cell analysis, this is completely missing for this condition. We will investigate the causes and consequences.

The experimental techniques involve basic research in cell culture models of cell biology,  genetic and pharmaceutical interventions in animal models of AVF with fluorescent reporters for markers expressed by new and established matrix-producing cells, and analysis of human human biopsies. Specific techniques include single cell sequencing, flow cytometry, single cell sequencing processing and bio-informatics (training provided as needed), gene silencing, gene/protein expression analysis, immunohistochemistry and high content, automated (confocal) microscopy with fluorescent probes to analyse collagen production, cell death, proliferation, migration, inflammation, angiogenesis, lipid uptake, etc.

CARIM offers an outstanding scientific environment including shared core-facilities equipped with state-of-art instrumentation and knowledge, and an international reputation of excellence in research. The pathology lab consists of 20 international researchers involved in inflammation and atherosclerotic plaque stability. An extensive network of local, national and international collaborations is maintained with leading research groups, and international work visits are possible to stimulate the project quality.

  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2541—€3247 per month
  • Maastricht View on Google Maps

Maastricht University (UM)

  • Applicants should have a degree in Biology, Health Sciences or Medicine with an interest in cardiovascular research.
  • Individuals with prior experience in cell culture and molecular biology/ bioinformatics (R, Seurat) are encouraged to apply.
  • In our international work environment, communication is mostly in English, which is why we require language level C1.
  • You are excited to work in an international project team. With your curious nature, you are driven to persevere in research.

Conditions of employment

The full-time position is offered for four years (1+3), with a yearly evaluation.

Your salary will be € 2.541 gross per month in the first year up to € 3.247 gross per month in the fourth year according to the PhD-candidate salary scale. On top of this, there is an 8% holiday and an 8.3% year-end allowance.

In addition to good primary employment conditions, UM also offers an attractive package of secondary employment conditions.

The terms of employment of Maastricht University are set out in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO). Furthermore, local UM provisions also apply. For more information look at the website  > About UM > Working at UM .

Maastricht University

Maastricht University is renowned for its unique, innovative, problem-based learning system, which is characterized by a small-scale and student-oriented approach. Research at UM is characterized by a multidisciplinary and thematic approach, and is concentrated in research institutes and schools. Maastricht University has around 22,000 students and about 5,000 employees. Reflecting the university's strong international profile, a fair amount of both students and staff are from abroad. The university hosts 6 faculties: Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Faculty of Law, School of Business and Economics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience. 
For more information, visit .

Additional information

Suitable candidates will be invited for an interview (online) in due course and can contact
Andrew Baker for any queries ( )

To apply at this vacancy, press the button ‘apply now’ to see the application procedure.

Working at Maastricht University

Maastricht University distinguishes itself with its innovative education model, international character and multidisciplinary approach to research and education.

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Application procedure

You can respond to this vacancy by sending your motivation letter and CV, stating the vacancy number AT2023.61, by email to:

Maastricht University is committed to promoting and nurturing a diverse and inclusive community. We believe that diversity in our staff and student population contributes to the quality of research and education at UM, and strive to enable this through inclusive policies and innovative projects led by teams of staff and students. We encourage you to apply for this position.

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