Postdoctoral Position in Veterinary Sciences
University of Antwerp
Belgium

Postdoctoral Position in Veterinary Sciences
Regime Full-time

Let’s shape the future - University of Antwerp

Are you an expert in microscopy, image processing and/or organoids that can help us tackle this scientific challenge in the field of neuro-organoid imaging? We offer you full-time contract of 1 year to jointly prepare a competitive external funding application for a Postdoctoral Fellowship.

The Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences is looking for a full-time (100%) postdoctoral scholarship holder focused on AI-informed, multiplexed imaging of immune-competent organoids in the context of brain disease.

Within the University of Antwerp, several research groups have joined forces in the field of neuro-organoids and jointly launch this postdoc challenge:

  • The team of Winnok De Vos (Laboratory of Cell Biology and Histology) focuses on the cell biology of aging diseases, in particular those affecting the brain. They exploit and develop data-driven microscopy tools for cellular models, which they also make accessible via the microscopy core facility (ACAM).
  • The group of Peter Ponsaerts (Laboratory of Experimental Hematology) houses experts in organoid culture and has studied and developed a variety of iPSC-derived models in the context of brain dysfunction such as stroke.
  • The Imec-Vision Lab of Jan Sijbers focusses on image reconstruction, processing and analysis methods.
  • The Peripheral Neuropathy group of Vincent Timmerman uses patient

iPSC-derived motor neurons, 2D cellular models and 3D models (neuromuscular organoids, assembloids) to study Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

Several of these groups are part of the µNEURO Research Centre of Excellence,  an interdisciplinary consortium that strives to conduct top-level translational neuroscience research on a cell-to-organism wide scale. Via the IMARK Valorisation consortium, aimed at expediting biomarker discovery and development by resolving molecular and structural patterns in space and time, we are also actively pursuing public-private collaborations and valorisation opportunities.

Our scientific challenge

Identification of disease mechanisms and novel therapeutic targets relies on the use of cell culture and animal models. While the former are overly simplified, the latter are not human and ethically

contested. With the advent of human induced pluripotent stem cell (hiPSC) technology, it has now become possible to generate organoids that more faithfully capture part of the heterogeneity and three-dimensional context of human tissue. Several research labs at the University of Antwerp recognize their potential and have therefore implemented a variety of human patient-derived organoid cultures, in particular for neuroscientific research lines (Alzheimer’s disease, Epilepsy, Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, Glioblastoma). However, the inability to characterize these specimens at the cellular level with high-throughput hamper their integration in a routine research setting. Therefore, we have the ambition to develop an end-to-end solution that enables unbiased cellular phenotyping of intact immune-competent neuro-organoids by using a combination of advanced microscopy and deep learning. Having in hand the infrastructure and expertise for three-dimensional visualization of whole organoids, the key challenges are a) to improve the image reconstruction so as to expedite the image formation process, b) to unequivocally identify individual cell types and states in toto, and c) to optimally exploit the spatiotemporal image content to map cell interactions and predict neuro-organoid condition. This requires a unique blend of expertise in cell biology, microscopy and image informatics.

The University of Antwerp is a dynamic, forward-thinking, European university. We offer an innovative academic education to more than 20000 students, conduct pioneering scientific research and play an important service-providing role in society. We are one of the largest, most international and most innovative employers in the region. With more than 6000 employees from 100 different countries, we are helping to build tomorrow's world every day. Through top scientific research, we push back boundaries and set a course for the future – a future that you can help to shape. 

Profile

We are looking for an enthusiastic and driven candidate that is passionate about quantitative microscopy and has experience in either image processing (including deep learning), advanced microscopy and/or organoid culture. You are eager to help us tackle one or more of these scientific challenges and contribute to the end goal of robust organoid phenotyping. You have an excellent track record in one (or multiple) of these fields and bring the necessary expertise that, combined with the support from our research groups, can push this field forward.

In alignment with the eligibility criteria for MSCA and FWO Postdoctoral Fellowship applications:

  • You hold a PhD in a relevant field.
  • You have max. 6 years of postdoctoral research experience (FWO). Extensions of this period are possible in case of e.g. maternity/paternity leave, long-term illness, etc. For international candidates, this can be extended up to 8 years of postdoc experience (MSCA), and years of experience outside research, career breaks or years of research experience in countries not associated to Horizon Europe will not count towards this maximum.

We welcome applications from both national and international candidates.

What we offer

  • We offer a full-time appointment as postdoctoral research or postdoctoral scholarship holder for a period of min. 6 months to 1 year (upon positive evaluation). During your appointment, you will prepare a competitive application for external funding via an MSCA Postdoctoral Fellowship (submission in September 2024) and/or an FWO Postdoctoral Fellowship (submission in December 2024). If successful, your appointment will be extended with this externally financed fellowship (2-3 years).
  • The planned start date will be discussed based on your personal situation and the targeted funding applications (around Summer 2024).
  • Your monthly scholarship amount or gross salary is calculated according to the scholarship amounts for postdoctoral scholarship holders or the pay scale for a principal research fellow in the Contract Research Staff category (Dutch: Bijzonder Academisch Personeel, BAP).
  • You will receive ecocheques, Internet-connectivity allowance and a bicycle allowance or a full reimbursement of public transport costs for commuting.
  • You will do most of your work at Campus Drie Eiken in a stimulating, interdisciplinary environment for high-level neuroscience research, with state-of-the-art imaging infrastructure and close links to the University Hospital of Antwerp.
  • We offer support and guidance for the preparation of your funding applications from your future supervisor(s) and the µNEURO research manager.
  • Incoming international researchers can get advice and comprehensive support from the International Staff Office of the University of Antwerp.
  • Find out more about working at the University of Antwerp here.

Want to apply?

  • You can apply for this vacancy through the University of Antwerp’s online job application platform up to and including (by midnight Brussels time). Click on the 'Apply' button, complete the online application form and be sure to include the following attachments: a motivation letter and your academic CV. All documents must be submitted in English.  
  • Your application will be evaluated based on the suitability of your profile for a successful FWO and/or MSCA application. This includes:
  • Scientific achievements, publications and other output
  • Relevant background and competences for the envisaged project
  • Potential for two-way knowledge transfer between the candidate and UAntwerpen
  • Evidence of career, network and expertise building activities
  • The selection committee will review all of the applications as soon as possible after the application deadline. As soon as a decision has been made, we will inform you about the next steps in the selection procedure.
  • If you have any questions about the online application form, please check the frequently asked questions or send an email to jobs@uantwerpen.be. If you have any questions about the job itself, please contact Prof. Winnok De Vos ( winnok.devos@uantwerpen.be) or Dr. Liesbeth Vanherp, Research Manager µNEURO Research Centre of Excellence (Liesbeth.vanherp@uantwerpen.be).

The University of Antwerp received the European Commission’s HR Excellence in Research Award for its HR policy. We are a sustainable, family-friendly organisation which invests in its employees’ growth. We encourage diversity and attach great importance to an inclusive working environment and equal opportunities, regardless of gender identity, disability, race, ethnicity, religion or belief, sexual orientation or age. We encourage people from diverse backgrounds and with diverse characteristics to apply.


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