PhD Position in Targeting Microglial Stress Hormone Receptors to Mitigate AD Pathology

Updated: 2 months ago
Deadline: ;

Finding early risk factors and therapeutic targets for Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) is fundamental for prevention and treatment of AD. Emerging evidence indicates that stress during the early postnatal period (ES) increases the risk to develop cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s Disease (AD). ES lastingly alters the activity of the hypothalamic–pituitary–adrenal (HPA) axis and enhances circulating levels of glucocorticoid stress hormones (GCs), which have been implicated in modulating AD progression. Exactly how ES and GCs accelerate AD-related cognitive decline remains unknown. 

We are looking for a PhD candidate to expand our team. You will work on a project which focusses on the role of microglial cells. These play an important role in the pathological processes of AD. Since ES triggers activation of microglial cells, which do contain glucocorticoid receptors (GRs), we want to investigate if and how stress-hormones via microglial cells are involved in the ES-induced increase of AD pathology, alterations in excitatory/inhibitory synapses, “engram” neurons and whether selective targeting of GRs only in microglia can mitigate ES-induced effects on AD pathology, synaptic dysfunction and cognitive decline.

You will work at the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS), one of the research institutes of the University of Amsterdam and will be directly supervised by Dr. Harm Krugers and Dr. Aniko Korosi of the Brain Plasticity group , in close collaboration with prof.dr. Onno Meijer from Leiden University Medical Center.

What are you going to do?

As a PhD student you will develop into an independent researcher and your tasks and activities will include:
•    completing a PhD thesis in four years;
•    participating in the design of the research project;
•    performing behavioral, molecular, cellular and electrophysiological studies;
•    analysis, interpretation and presentation of the obtained data;
•    publishing in international journals and presenting at (inter-)national meetings;
•    attending meetings within the Brain Plasticity group, and SILS meetings; maintaining the collaboration

     with the group of Prof.dr. Meijer in Leiden;
•    participating in the Faculty of Science PhD training program;
•    assisting in teaching and supervising Bachelor and Master students.

What do we require? 

You are/have:
•    an enthusiastic, motivated and dedicated scientist with a (research) master’s degree in Life Sciences

     (e.g. Biomedical Sciences, Psychobiology) or a related area;
•    practical experience in the lab and with behavioral studies (preclinical mouse/rat models) and are preferably

     in possession of the Article 9 certificate. Programming skills are a plus;
•    excellent analytical and communicative skills and a clear and concise writing style;
•    organized, independent, pro-active and perseverant in the face of a setback;
•    fluent in English, both written and spoken;
•    a team player, a pleasant colleague and able to work within an interdisciplinary environment.

Our offer 

A temporary contract for 38 hours per week for the duration of 4 years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended for a total duration of 4 years). This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and master students.  

Your salary will range between € 2,770 in the first year to € 3,539 gross per month in the last year of employment, on the basis of a full working week of 38 hours. This sum does not include the 8% holiday allowance and the 8.3% year-end allowance. A favourable tax agreement, the 30% ruling, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU) is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here .


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact:

About us

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 8,000, as well as 1,800 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain. 

The Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS) is one of the Faculty of Science’s largest institutes. Its approximately 240 scientists and staff members work in 17 research groups that perform excellent research centered on four themes: Neurosciences, Cell & Systems Biology, Microbiology and Green Life Sciences.

Within the Brain Plasticity group we study structural and functional plasticity of the brain in relation to stress and diseases, such as dementia. Aside from the birth of new cells in the adult brain, a process called "adult neurogenesis," we focus on the role of stress on neural plasticity, especially when it occurs during vulnerable periods of early and adolescent life. We try to understand how plasticity is 'programmed' for life, and how external factors (like stress, disease, nutrition, drugs, exercise and enriched environment) influence plasticity, and what (functional) role such plasticity plays in cognition and behavior, and in (the possible treatment of) disorders like depression, dementia, anxiety and PTSD.


Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 4 March 2024. You can apply online by using the link below.  

Applications in .pdf should include:
•    a detailed CV including the months (not just years) when referring to your education and work experience;
•    a letter of motivation;
•    the names and email addresses of two references who can provide letters of recommendation.

A knowledge security check can be part of the selection procedure.
(for details: National knowledge security guidelines

We will invite potential candidates for interviews in the second half of March 2024.

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

No agencies please.

Similar Positions