PhD Student in Biomolecular Medicine
Ghent University, Department of Biomolecular Medicine

PhD Student

Last application date
Dec 01, 2019 16:20

GE31 - Department of Biomolecular Medicine

Employment category
Doctoral fellow

Limited duration

Master of Science in Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Biomedical Sciences, Bioscience Engineering, or equivalent

Occupancy rate

Vacancy Type
Research staff


Job description

The RARE-MED consortium is a multidisciplinary consortium for basic and translational research on precision medicine for rare diseases. About 350 million people worldwide suffer from a rare disease, which is defined as a disorder that affects less than 1 in 2,000 individuals. Over 7,000 different rare disease entities have been identified, 80% of which have a genetic cause. Recent large-scale sequencing technologies enable fast and accurate genetic diagnosis, which is a prerequisite for genomic-based precision medicine.


Within RARE-MED, we are looking for a talented and highly motivated PhD student for a project on the development of novel antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) therapies for rare disorders. You will study inherited retinal diseases (IRDs), a major cause of early-onset vision loss, as a proof of concept. The human eye is ideally suited for local administration of gene therapy because of its small size, easy access, immune-privileged state, and its duplicity, and several clinical trials are ongoing for ocular gene therapy. IRDs are monogenic but genetically heterogeneous: over 260 disease genes have been identified so far. Here, you will identify and characterize IRD genes amenable to ASO therapy and develop a platform for functional evaluation of ASO treatment in 2D and 3D retinal models. In specific, you will generate patient-derived induced pluripotent stem cells and differentiate these to photoreceptor precursor cells, retinal pigment epithelium or retinal organoids, enabling ASO evaluation and optimization in the patient’s genetic background. The resulting platform for design and evaluation of ASO treatments will also be applicable to other rare disorders studied at Ghent University.


Profile of the candidate

- You obtained a Master of Science in Biochemistry, Biotechnology, Biomedical Sciences, Bioscience Engineering, or equivalent.

- You have a strong interest in genetics, molecular biology and therapeutics. Prior experience with molecular techniques, cell culture and protein analysis is considered an advantage.

- You are an accurate and precise worker and possess strong analytical problem-solving skills.

- You can work independently, yet you are also a team player.

- Candidates must have excellent written and oral communication skills in English.

- You are willing to spend a few months abroad with collaborating research groups to learn novel techniques.

How to apply

A motivation letter (max. 1 page), CV and contact details of two referees should be sent to Frauke Coppieters by email ( by December 1st. Top-ranked candidates will be invited for an interview.

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