PhD in Light Therapy for patients suffering from depression

Updated: about 2 months ago
Deadline: 04 Jul 2021

The Department of Industrial Engineering & Innovation Sciences of Eindhoven University of Technology has a PhD position on restoration of the biological clock of patients with depression in the Human Technology Interaction (HTI) group, to work within the NWO-NWA funded BioClock consortium and in close collaboration with the Eindhoven Regional Mental Healthcare Center (GGzE).

Project context: The BioClock consortium

This PhD position is one of in total 25 positions at the core of the BioClock consortium, funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) in the framework of the Dutch Research Agenda (NWA). BioClock is a national consortium in which academic institutes, societal partners, and industry join forces to address a broad spectrum of fundamental and applied research questions on the circadian clock in modern society. As a PhD student in the BioClock consortium, you'll get the opportunity to actively participate in this multidisciplinary team effort. See for more information about the BioClock consortium.

The BioClock consortium will investigate how biological rhythms relate to (mental) health,
sleep, shift work, cognitive performance and the consequences of artificial light in nature. LUMC researchers Joke Meijer and Laura Kervezee will lead the consortium. Together with mental health clinics in the Leiden and Eindhoven regions (GGzE and LUBEC), the Eindhoven University of Technology plays a major role in the BioClock workpackage that implements and optimizes biological clock-based treatment of depression within mental health clinics.

Our modern society is marked by artificial light at night, irregular lifestyles, shift work, which leads to disrupted biological clocks of humans and the organisms around us. This increases our risk of a range of diseases, including depression, cancer, and diabetes and threatens biodiversity. Clearly, action is required to address the challenges that arise from living against the biological clock. In the BioClock consortium, molecular biologists, neuroscientists, ecologists, clinicians and psychologists team up with educators, policy makers, citizens, local governments, environmental organizations and industry. The results of the BioClock consortium will foster a sustainable living environment in which a healthy biological clock function is preserved within humans and ecosystems.  

The core objectives of BioClock are:

  • Promote a healthy biological clock in populations at risk, including the aged and young, students and shift workers
  • Improve patient care by optimizing time of treatment, designing clock-enhancing tools, and augmenting light-dark cycles in intensive care units
  • Develop novel strategies to preserve clock function in ecosystems in urban, rural and natural areas and protect biodiversity in the presence of light pollution.

PhD position: Light therapy and chronotherapeutic treatment to enhance recovery, well-being and sleep in depressed patients

The Human Technology Interaction department of the TU/e is seeking an enthusiastic, ambitious young researcher to work in our team on the execution of the BioClock work package titled
'A healthy clock, a healthy mind: restoring 24-h rhythms to combat mood disorders'.

Job description

We aim to test a chronotherapeutic approach that combines light therapy with lifestyle interventions to improve well-being, support sleep and facilitate recovery in depressed patients in a clinical trial. Data collection will include subjective and objective assessments of sleep, experience sampling/ecological momentary assessments and psycho-physiology. These data will be used to develop psycho-physiological and behavioral markers that can predict individual responses to antidepressant treatments.  In addition to testing the objective effectiveness of this approach, we would like to learn more about interindividual differences in light-sensitivity among healthy and depressed individuals. The final aim is to generate evidence-based strategies and clinical guidelines (AGREE criteria) for chronotherapeutic treatments of depression, as well as enabling for a better selection of these interventions and improved monitoring of their effects among healthcare patients.

You will conduct your research under the supervision of prof. Yvonne de Kort (TU/e), prof. Machteld Marcelis (GGzE) and dr. Luc Schlangen (TU/e). You will be a member of the light group in the HTI department at TU/e, the Intelligent Lighting Institute of the TU/e, the GGzE research team and the larger BioClock community. It is envisioned that the research involves experiments and a clinical study that will be executed in close collaboration with the regional mental health centers in Eindhoven (GGzE) and Leiden (LUBEC).

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