PhD-student in cellular neuroscience (cell biology, life cell imaging)

Updated: 2 months ago
Deadline: ;

Do you want to investigate how chemical signals are released from human brain cells? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

Project: Mechanisms of neuromodulator trafficking and secretion in human and mouse neurons
FTE: 1

Job description

Communication between neurons in the brain depends on the secretion of chemical signals from secretory vesicles. Most genes known to be involved in secretion are now firmly implicated in brain disorders like autism, epilepsy and mental retardation. Many of the modulatory signals that change our brain state (arousal, sleep, euphoria) are secreted from dense cored vesicles (DCVs) in neurons. The aim of this project is to unravel the mechanisms of DCV trafficking and secretion in neurons from their biogenesis in the soma of the cell to the final fusion at synapses. This project uses life cell imaging (2-photon imaging and confocal microscopy) in human iPSC-derived neurons and intact rodent tissue (brain slices, in vivo), and genetically encoded reporters to detect DCV trafficking and fusion. We have previously established detection of DCV secretion in living neurons with single vesicle resolution and characterized several molecular factors that regulate secretion. In this project we will exploit these tools/methods to characterize the secretory pathway and dysregulation in disease.

You will be part of international research networks and exploit a variety of other analysis tools available here. You will be appointed in Amsterdam and work primarily in Amsterdam with regular visits to the other labs. The PhD-students will be trained on site. All the methodology, equipment, analysis software, viral vectors, IPSC-derived neurons, and mutant mice are available from the start of the project.

Your duties

  • perform life cell imaging of DCV biogenesis, trafficking and secretion in human disease models
  • perform genetic screens to identify novel genes involved in DCV biogenesis
  • present your work to the research community
  • supervise BSc and /or MSc students during internships
  • contribute to teaching activities (10%)


We are looking for candidates that have:

  • a Master degree in (Medical) Biology, Biophysics or Physics
  • preferably hands-on experience in iPSC technology and other cellular assays in neuroscience
  • a strong intrinsic motivation to make impactful contributions to the field of neuroscience
  • experience with Matlab is an advantage

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,541 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,247 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 30,000 students. We employ over 5,500 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to more than 11,000 students.

About the department, institute, project
The CNCR in Amsterdam (see ) participates in the Graduate School ONWAR ( ). This position is in the Department of Functional Genomics and the project is: Mechanisms of neuromodulator trafficking and secretion in human and mouse neurons


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until



Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: prof. Matthijs Verhage
Position: Head of the Functional Genomics Department

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