PhD position Fibroin from tobacco cells for medical use

Updated: about 1 month ago
Deadline: 31 Jan 2021

PhD position Fibroin from tobacco cells for medical use
PhD position Fibroin from tobacco cells for medical use
Published Deadline Location
13 Jan 31 Jan Geleen

Job description

This research project contributes to the Biobased Value Circle objectives by focusing on the production of biobased materials for medical applications.

Fibroin is the basic component of silk, a natural and biodegradable material with exceptional mechanical properties, highly suited for biomedical applications. Because recovering and regenerating of silk fibroin from its natural sources alters its intrinsic physical and mechanical properties, there is the need to establish an efficient production platform for soluble fibroin monomers, which can then be polymerized and processed in different ways depending on the application. Fibroin are large, repetitive proteins and this poses serious challenges to their production. Plant-based expression systems are flexible and versatile platforms for recombinant protein production. Most importantly, they are especially suited for the expression of highly repetitive constructs due to their genetic stability compared to microbes.

Results: The goal of this project is to establish a tobacco cell culture as a reproducible production system for fibroin. Two main approaches will be followed: on one side, the metabolism of plant cells will be optimized towards the high-level production of these repetitive proteins; on the other side, different fusions and expression strategies will be explored to increase fibroin solubility, accumulation and recovery. In collaboration with Fibrothelium GmbH (Germany), we will test the mechanical, physical and biological properties of the recombinant proteins and evaluate how to implement these raw materials into the established manufacturing routines of a medical device supplier.

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Maastricht University (UM)


The general requirements for all Biobased Value Circle positions apply here, i.e.:

  • you may already be in a PhD program but you cannot be a PhD holder,
  • you must have less than 4 years of research experience, i.e., you should be an early-stage researcher,
  • you must not have resided or carried out your main activity in the country of the hiring organization for more than 12 months during the last 3 years immediately prior to the recruitment (short stays such as holidays and/or compulsory national service are not taken into account), and
  • you should have a high-level knowledge of the English language.

Furthermore, the position-related requirements are:

  • Master’s degree in Biotechnology or other applicable Master’s degree. Knowledge in polymer science will be considered a plus.
  • enrollment as a doctoral student at UM within four months,
  • 20 months secondment to Fibrothelium GmbH,
  • positive attitude to both analytical and practical research work, and
  • ability to work independently as a member of UM research team and of the Biobased Value Circle community.

Conditions of employment
  • We offer a rewarding career at a young university in the heart of Europe, with a distinct global perspective and a strong focus on innovative research and education;
  • The terms of employment of Maastricht University are set out in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO), supplement with local UM provisions. For more information on terms of employment, please visit our website > Support > UM employees;
  • We offer a 4 year full-time appointment as PhD candidate. The first year will be a probation period, after a positive assessment the position will be extended for another 3 years.  Start date as soon as possible;
  • Remuneration will be according to standard salary levels for PhD students starting with a salary of €2.395,- with a yearly growth to €3.061,- gross a month, based on a full-time appointment (38 hours/week);
  • On top of this, there is an 8% holiday allowance and an 8.3% end of the year allowance;
  • We offer an attractive package of fringe benefits such as, reduction on collective health insurance, substantial leave arrangements, optional model for designing a personalised benefits package, sport facilities which staff may use at a modest charge and application for attractive fiscal arrangements for employees from abroad;
  • We provide a stimulating, collaborative and interdisciplinary work environment with excellent opportunities for professional and personal development;
  • Maastricht University has an excellent international reputation, and Maastricht itself is a beautiful, open-minded city located in the center of Western Europe.

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 20,000 students and 4,700 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. 


The Aachen-Maastricht Institute for Biobased Materials (AMIBM) is a European, cross-border, research institute focusing on the development of advanced biobased materials. AMIBM strives for groundbreaking conversion of biomass to biobased materials and into product applications.

AMIBM is located in the Netherlands on the Brightlands Chemelot Campus in the Dutch Province of Limburg and has a branch office in Germany (AMIBM e.V.), and conducts innovative fundamental, applied and translational research by creating synergies between academia and industry.

Additional information

For more information on:

Research topic, contact your future supervisor

Luisa Bortesi,

Application procedure

How to apply: Applications must be submitted in English to Marcelle Grandjean, .

Mandatory appendices:

  • a Curriculum Vitae,
  • a letter of motivation (maximum of one page),
  • the contact details of two referees,
  • a copy of B.Sc. and M.Sc. certificates with annexes, and
  • a language certificate (IELTS, TOEFL, PTE Academic, Cambridge Language Certificate (Proficiency CPE or Advanced CAE) if available.

In case no suitable candidates are found, Maastricht University reserves the right to re-open the call.

You can send your application to this e-mail:


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Apply via postal mail

You can send your application to this e-mail:

Don't forget to mention AcademicTransfer and the job number: AT2020.346 in your letter.

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