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PhD position 3D cell-instructive engineered stem cell models for neuropsychiatric disorders

The brain is the most complex organ of the human body. During the last two decades, a new generation of scientists, between a microfabrication engineer and a …

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Arbeidsvoorwaarden

Standplaats:
Mekelweg, Delft, Zuid-Holland
Dienstverband:
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 40 uur
Salarisindicatie:
€ 2434 - € 3111 per maand
Opleidingsniveau:
WO

Functieomschrijving

The brain is the most complex organ of the human body. During the last two decades, a new generation of scientists, between a microfabrication engineer and a cell biologist, started to develop engineered microenvironments trying to recapitulate the complexity of neural networks. In such context, brain white matter has a central role in motor coordination and cognitive functions. White matter abnormalities are detrimental and significant in many neurological disorders, including autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Most of the current approaches for the study of cells residing in the white matter, rely on the use of strategies that are not able to realistically represent the three dimensional (3D) spatial configuration in our brain, or are far from the human white matter complexity. Representative systems are of utmost importance to understand how physical and mechanical cues in the 3rd dimension, i.e. mechanobiology, affect neural cell differentiation and fate in health and disease. In the context of a NWO funded project in collaboration with Vrije Universiteit of Amsterdam (VU), you will design, fabricate and characterize 3D micro- and meso-scale environments to: investigate the mechanobiology and foster/accelerate the maturation of iPSC-derived neural cells from both healthy and ASD patients; study properties of and changes in white matter structures within long-term diffusible neural tissue-like architectures (i.e. spheroids/organoids). This integrated approach can be potentially used to ‘diagnose’ patient cell phenotypes and, in future, be employed to screen (lead) compounds for the treatment of ASD. The investigation will be conducted synergistically with another PhD student specialized in stem cell biology and simultaneously appointed at VU. The preferred starting date will be the 1st of November 2021.

If you are passionate about pursuing a PhD project at the interface between Mechanical Engineering, Microfabrication, Materials Science and Neuroscience, then we would welcome your application to join our group. The successful candidate will:

  1. Develop and conduct research on two-photon polymerization (2PP) and masked stereolithography/digital light projection (MSLA/DLP) for the realization of the 3D micro- and meso-scale structures with specific geometrical/mechanical features.
  2. Integrate both commercial and customized photosensitive polymer/hydrogel materials within 2PP/MSLA/DLP processes.
  3. Participate in the culture of iPSC-derived neuronal cells.
  4. Characterize the mechanical, morphological and immunofluorescent features of both the scaffolds and the cellular networks.
  5. Write a doctoral dissertation, publish results in renowned peer reviewed journals and present research at international conferences.
  6. Engage in educational activities, such as supervising master students and assisting in classroom or teaching-lab activities

Functie-eisen

  • A university Master of Science degree in micro- and nanotechnology, biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, or a related area.
  • Good communication skills and ability to be a team-player in a multidisciplinary setting.
  • Self-starter with initiative and ability to setup, organise and execute your research.
  • Experience with 2PP and morphological/mechanical characterization is required.
  • Experience with MSLA/DLP is a plus.
  • Experience with polymeric/hydrogel materials is a plus.
  • Experience with modeling of mechanical behaviour of microstructures is a strong asset.
  • Experience with cell mechanobiology applications (e.g. measurement of cell forces, cytoskeletal conformation) and confocal microscopy is a strong asset.

Conditions

TU Delft offers PhD-candidates a 4-year contract, with an official go/no go progress assessment after one year. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2395 per month in the first year to € 3061 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

Additional information

For information about this vacancy, you can contact Dr. Angelo Accardo, Assistant Professor (PME), email: A.Accardo@tudelft.nl, tel: +31 (0)15 278 1610.

For information about the selection procedure, please contact Irina Bruckner, HR-advisor, email: application-3mE@tudelft.nl.