This PhD project is a unique chance to contribute to solutions of the big health care dementia problem with advanced computational methods, supervised by experts in the field of dementia (prof. dr. Marcel Olde Rikkert), epidemiology (dr. René Melis), and multiscale modeling (prof. dr. ir. Alfons Hoekstra).
When you are genuinely motivated to study dementia with your broad scientific skills and interests, are attracted by puzzling data science problems, and eager to work on how to apply multiscale modeling to the challenges of complex diseases such as dementia, you are the dreamed PhD student.
Next, you should be excited on working in a really interdisciplinary setting, formed by the Radboudumc Alzheimer Centre (located within the Donders Center for Medical Neurosciences), the Radboud University's data science group, and the Institute for Advanced Studies (IAS) in Amsterdam, which together will conduct the studies. The PhD project should result in four high quality scientific papers, and a thesis defense within four years, as part of the Donders Institute graduate school.
The failure of over 400 clinical trials to modify Alzheimer's Disease (AD) based on beta-amyloid and tau protein pathways urgently asks for alternative scientific reasoning. We will use the GAAIN platform and the IALSA/ Rotterdam study data for a multiscale modeling approach on potential protective factors for AD.
This multiscale modeling should help us to explain to understand why individuals with similar brain damage and similar neuronal loss due to Alzheimer´s disease and aging can show a very heterogeneous level of cognitive abilities and a heterogeneous course of disease, probably for a major part explained by differences in lifestyle factors (e.g. sleep) and cognitive and social activities in which the persons are involved.
We will start defining dementia (including AD) as a complex disease caused by many interacting bio-social interactions. Existing data will be used (possibly also new analysed) to describe differences in Alzheimer patients, and dementia patients in general, with slow and rapid decline. We want to apply agent based modeling techniques to study interactions of the agents active in dementia trajectories at four interacting scale levels: the cellular (e.g beta-amyloid burden), organ (e.g. functional networks), organism (e.g. sleep), and social scale (e.g. social activity). In these model individual and group data can be applied to simulate what will happen with AD risk factors and individual behavior over time.
Calibration, validation and replication will be consecutive steps to be carried out and published.
By using new multiscale modeling techniques the PhD will apply iterative steps of programming, model calibration and refinement to build the first multiscale model for dementia in old age. Together with studying data and existing literature also consensus rounds among experts (i.e. group based modeling) will be used to develop more and more detailed causal loop diagrams connecting the risk, resilience and resistance factors for Alzheimer's disease.
- Master's degree biomedical sciences, computational sciences, neurosciences or comparable with these;
- Passion for applying modeling techniques, interest in advanced statistical methods, and data science, and motivation to be the first to apply these as improved predictors of dementia trajectories in old age;
- Well-developed social skills and team-spirit: strong ability to connect with other research group;
- Skilled in writing academic English, best if evidenced by having published a scientific article(s).
The PhD candidate should enjoy working on the project deliverables, and at the same time develop him/herself by acquiring new (research) skills, thereby growing to an excellent, independently working researcher who is able to apply recent advances in data sciences and computational modeling from an academic perspective.
The project will appoint a PhD candidate for 4 years in total, in scale 10A. Your training and research will be detailed in a training and supervision plan, which will be evaluated and supervised according to the Donders PhD track. You will be registered in the Dutch university job-ranking system (UFO) as a PhD-student (promovendus).
Upon commencement of employment we require a certificate of conduct (Verklaring Omtrent het Gedrag, VOG) and there will be a screening based on the provided CV. Radboud university medical center's HR Department will apply for this certificate on your behalf.
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You should submit a motivation letter (max. 1 page), a CV (including a list of grades obtained during your MSc study), and the names of two persons who can provide references. We may start the selection process with short (15 min) interviews.Additional information
Additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from Prof. Marcel Olde Rikkert
, head of department of Geriatric Medicine or from Dr. René Melis
, senior researcher at this department. Candidates may be co-selected by prof. ir. Alfons Hoekstra, who will act as co-supervisor on this project as well. Use the Apply button to submit your application.Please apply before October 1, 2018.Recruitment agencies are asked not to respond to this job posting.