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PhD student Development of a novel Nervous-system-on-Chip technology

The Eindhoven University of Technology, Department of Mechanical Engineering has a vacancy for
PhD student Development of a novel Nervous-system-on-Chip technology
in Microsystems group, Department of Mechanical Engineering

3 maanden geleden


de Rondom, Eindhoven, Noord-Brabant
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 uur



To effectively grasp the complexity of neurodegenerative disorders in this PhD project a new nervous-system-on-Chip Technology will be developed to put the next level in vitro model systems for the nervous system firmly on the map. This PhD project is part of a larger EU project consortium funded by the FETProACT program of the EU and coordinated by Eindhoven University of Technology. The successful completion of this EU project will enable for the first time to study a simple nervous system, instead of isolated tissues, delivering a viable paradigm for future technology to study organ connectivity. The project will provide a strong and innovative basis for the next generation in vitro full organ system and disease models, reduce the need for pre-clinical animal studies, and increase the efficacy of drug development. Specifically, this will provide a major step in the development of Nervous System-on-Chip (NoC) technology as a feasible human model of diseases, system connectivity and neurotoxicity in the pharmaceutical industry. The proposed work in the EU project offers a unique opportunity to culture individual nervous system components and, connect them in a single system, called the CONNECT platform, to form an elementary three-compartment model from the CNS to the PNS, which also includes the enteric nervous system (ENS) of the gut. As Proof-of-Principle, CONNECT will demonstrate its feasibility for Parkinson's disease (PD), by modeling the complex system of the periphery and its link to the CNS. PD is a progressive neurological disorder and is the second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer's disease. Currently, treatment strategies for PD have limited efficacies and there are no cures, mainly due to a lack of relevant in vitro models which can help to understand the etiology of the disease. The major hallmark of PD is the degeneration and loss of specific neurons in the midbrain. The primary neuropathological lesions appear to be the accumulation of protein aggregates in different parts of the brain. Recent evidence suggests that these aggregates might find their origin in the gut and are transported retrogradely via the enteric nervous system (ENS) towards the CNS. To mimic this pathway, CONNECT will join these components and bring a brain organoid and peripheral nerves on a single smart chip with integrated read-out systems. The successful completion of this project will not only significantly improve our understanding of the connectivity between different parts of the nervous systems, it will also pave the way for studying neurodegenerative disease, drug discovery and eventually to more advanced smart body-on-chip connectivity models. The specific goal of this PhD project involves materials research, microfluidic chip design, micro- and nanofabrication, thin film deposition and pattern transfer for microelectrode integration in either polymer, glass or silicon substrates or experimental systems characterization. With respect to advanced sensor integration and material choices the PhD student will closely collaborate with our research partner at AALTO University Helsinki, Finland. The final aim of the PhD project is to produce prototype NoC's that can be used for stem cell-derived neural network culture and optical and electrophysiological readout by our project partners.


We are looking for a scientist with a background in materials science, mechanical engineering, biomedical engineering, or applied physics, who enjoys to work in a multidisciplinary academic environment and translate his/her knowledge towards applications. The ideal candidate would have experience in both microfluidics and smart materials, but excellent candidates with a background in one area (and an interest to master the other) will also be considered. Important personal skills include a proven ability to manage projects, collaborate with external parties and be self-driven.


The PhD student will be embedded in the Neuro-Nanoscale Engineering group led by associate prof. dr Regina Luttge. The Neuro-Nanoscale Engineering group is part of the Microsystems section headed by prof.dr.ir. Jaap den Toonder. Both, the section and the research group are affiliated with the Institute of Complex Molecular Systems (ICMS). The Microsystems section manages the Microfab lab, a state-of-the-art micro fabrication facility that houses a range of micro manufacturing technologies - microfluidics technology is one of the main research pillars of the section. Additionally, the section has access to the Nanolab@TU/e, a state of the art nanofabrication facility. The project is a collaboration within a larger EU consortium, including Université du Luxembourg (LU), University of Sheffield (UK), AALTO University Helsinki (FI), KU Leuven (BE), Erasmus Medical Center Rotterdam (NL) and FFUND BV (NL).


We offer you:
  • An exciting job in a dynamic work environment and multidisciplinary consortium.
  • A full time appointment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation after 1 year
  • A gross monthly salary from € 2.266 (first year) to €2.897 (fourth year) in line with the Collective Agreement for Dutch Universities.
  • The possibility to present your work at international conferences.
  • A personal development program for PhD students (Information on the PROOF program can be found on: https://www.tue.nl/en/university/working-at-tue/development-and-career/scientific-personnel/phd-and-postdoc/providing-opportunities-for-phd-students-3tu/
  • An attractive package of fringe benefits, including end-of-year bonus (8,3% in December), an extra holiday allowance (8% in May), moving expenses and excellent sports facilities.
  • Additionele informatie

    Further information can be obtained from: Associate prof.dr. R. Luttge, phone +31 40 247 5235 and e-mail r.luttge@tue.nl. For more information regarding recruitment please contact Sytse van Heijst. E: HRServices.Gemini@tue.nl

    Visit https://www.tue.nl/en/research/research-groups/microsystems/ for more information about the group Microsystems;


    Your application can be addressed to Associate prof.dr. R. Luttge. Applications must include a personal motivation letter, a Curriculum Vitae including the names and contact details of at least two references, and an overview of current research activities and interests in form of a pitch presentation (5 slides max. as pdf). Only complete applications will be considered. Consideration of the candidates will begin immediately, until the position is filled.