PhD Position in Microscopic Muscle Properties in Children with Cerebral Palsy KU Leuven Pneumology Belgium


The multidisciplinary 3D-MMAP team that combines expertise from two muscle labs (Pneumology lab and stem cell institute) and the clinical Motion Analysis Laboratory at the KULeuven, is offering a PhD-position in the field of muscle cell biology.


The PhD project is part of the interdisciplinary 3D-MMAP project (3D-Macroscopic and microscopic Muscle Architecture in cerebral Palsy) dealing with the integration of macroscopic and microscopic muscle properties with cell modeling to feature neuromuscular symptoms in children with cerebral palsy. Cerebral palsy (CP) is the single largest cause of childhood physical disability. It is caused by a brain lesion that results in impaired muscle function progressing with age. Most treatments for CP children are directed at the muscle but are hindered by insufficient knowledge on the pathogenesis of altered muscle growth in these children. There is thus an urgent need to understand the alterations that occur in the muscle of children with CP, in particular the early events after the brain lesion and their evolution with age would be helpful to optimize treatment.


In this project, we would like to compare the microscopic muscle properties of 1) children with congenital CP and healthy children at different ages following a cross-sectional approach and 2) young children with CP following in a longitudinal study design.


For that purpose, we are collecting muscle samples of two different muscles using the sonographically guided percutaneous needle microbiopsy technique.


The PhD project will involve collecting and handling of the muscle biopsies, performing the analysis of the muscle samples and interpreting the results in relation to the clinical symptoms.


Measurements include: 1) histology staining and immunohistochemistry with immunofluorescence on muscle slice, quantification with a fluorescence microscope 2) gene and protein expression on muscle homogenate using general molecular biology techniques (RNA and protein extraction, qRT-PCR,  western blot, ELISA assays), 3) isolation and culture and characterization of the satellite cells with determination of their behavior and gene and protein expression (immunofluorescence on culture fixed with paraformaldehyde and qRT-PCR/western blot on cell supernatant)



The candidate has a Master degree in Biomedical Sciences, Bio-engineering, Bioscience Engineering, Biology, Medicine, Rehabilitation Science, human movement science or any related discipline.

Any relevant experience in molecular biology, immunohistochemistry, cell isolation and culture, is an advantage.

Motivated PhD candidates with a strong commitment to basic and/or translational research are invited to apply.

The candidate is eligible to apply for a personal PhD grant (FWO aspirant). 

The candidate should have excellent communication skills in spoken and written English.

The candidate is a teamplayer, with an open communication style a problem-solving attitude and critical mind set and is proactive and result-driven. Good Clinical Practice (GCP) training will be required, either before or after enrollment in the Biomedical Sciences Doctoral School.

 The position adheres to the European policy of balanced ethnicity, age and gender. Both men and women are encouraged to apply.



We offer you a full-time doctoral fellowship position for one year, which will be extended for another 3 years after positive evaluation. Official starting time is preferably March or April 2019. You will work in a dynamic and stimulating scientific environment together with an enthusiastic team of young researchers at a top-ranked university. As part of your PhD program, you will receive advanced training in a broad range of techniques related to muscle biopsy analysis, genomics and chromosome biology. You will enroll in the Biomedical Sciences Doctoral School within, KU Leuven, Belgium and will receive a competitive salary in accordance with the KU Leuven scales for PhD students.


You will participate in an interdisciplinary project that involves collaboration with several departments of the KU Leuven and the University Hospitals.


You will have the opportunity to participate at national and international meetings, to embark on academic teaching, and to visit other research groups for scientific training or networking.



For more information please contact Mrs. Karen Maes, tel.: +32 16 37 74 57, mail: or Prof. dr. Kaat Desloovere, tel.: +32 16 33 80 09, mail:


You can apply for this job no later than February 17, 2019 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

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