Early Stage Researcher (PhD-position) in Marie Skłodowska-Curie ITN project (FHML/School for Cardiovascular Diseases/CARIM-Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine

The Early Stage researcher (ESR) will be trained within the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) INTRICARE and will perform research project 10 "Hybrid PET/MRI of key aspects of plaque vulnerability in different vascular ...

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Minderbroedersberg, Maastricht, Limburg
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur
€ 2222 - € 2840 per maand


The Early Stage researcher (ESR) will be trained within the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (ITN) INTRICARE and will perform research project 10 "Hybrid PET/MRI of key aspects of plaque vulnerability in different vascular beds", primarily within CARIM, Maastricht University, under the supervision of Dr. Kooi and with a secondment in King’s College London under supervision of Prof.dr. Botnar. INTRICARE (International Network for Training on Risks of vascular intimal Calcification And roads to Regression of cardiovascular diseasE) is an interdisciplinary international consortium involving 4 leading academic institutions and 9 SME's from 6 countries. The ESR will engage in network-wide training events.

Objectives of the PhD project The ESR aims to develop and employ state of the art hybrid molecular non-invasive imaging ((PET)-MRI) together with comprehensive multiparameter data analysis for the in-vivo assessment of “vulnerable” plaque. This will be approached in different vascular beds (carotids, coronaries) to provide morphologic, functional and molecular information on the development and response to treatment of atherosclerosis. Depending on the background of the PhD student, the project will be focused on patient studies (for an MD) or on technical developments (for a physicist or biomedical engineer). This project will be closely linked to other projects within INTRICARE and will have links to Siemens. Methodologies: The ESR focuses on MRI and hybrid PET/MRI of plaque vulnerability. Maastricht and London have an identical clinical integrated PET/MRI system, a fully digital preclinical PET and identical clinical MRI systems and complementary expertise in cardiac and vascular PET imaging including MR carotid and coronary artery imaging, thereby providing an excellent research and training platform for cardiovascular PET/MRI. Human and preclinical PET/MRI studies will focus on vulnerable plaque characterization, i.e. endothelial permeability (contrast enhancement on LGE), inflammation (uptake of 18F choline in PET), plaque deformation, and intraplaque haemorrhage (hyperintense signal on T1w TFE MRI or short T1 on T1 map). As the major challenge for coronary plaque imaging using PET/MRI is respiratory and cardiac motion we will use the MR navigator for respiratory motion correction. Cardiac motion will be corrected using ECG-gating. Expected results At the end of the project, we will have 1) demonstrated the feasibility of imaging plaque vulnerability in different vascular beds with hybrid PET/MRI, 2) obtained more knowledge on processes leading to plaque destabilisation and clinical events. The project will be finalised with several papers in international peer-reviewed journals and a PhD thesis.


At the time of the appointment: Applicants must not have resided or carried out his/her main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before appointment under the project; Applicants shall also be in the first four years of their research careers at the time of appointment by the host organisation and have not been awarded a doctoral degree. For more information on Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks (ITNs), please see: ec.europa.eu/mariecurieactions

Qualifications: You are a Medical Doctor or have a Master Degree in Physics of Biomedical Engineering. Excellent command of the English language is essential. Command of the Dutch language is desirable to be able to communicate with patients.

Experience: Experience with MRI, PET, and/or atherosclerosis is desirable.

Knowledge & skills: Knowledge of cardiovascular diseases, vascular biology, and inflammation is desirable. Good communication skills and analytical skills are essential.

Abilities: Interpreting scientific literature and incorporation into project and understanding the research process are essential. Organising and prioritising own work and organising research within the project timetable are essential. Maintaining accurate and up to date records are essential.

Attitude & disposition: Following abilities and dispositions are essential: Flexible and co-operative; Good relationships with staff and to communicate effectively; Self-motivated and hardworking; Enquiring, critical approach to work; Willingness to learn new skills; and willing to travel and go on secondments.

Other circumstances: Willingness to work flexibly in order to achieve project demands and

targets as agreed with Supervisor is essential. Able to travel to workshops and for research collaboration in other EU countries with notice is essential.

Secondments The ESR will visit King’s College London (UK) for 5 months. Furthermore, the ESR will spend one month at Ttopstart in the final year of the project to write a grant application for a follow-up project.


The terms of employment of Maastricht University are set out in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO). Furthermore, local UM provisions also apply. For more information look at the website http://www.maastrichtuniversity.nl > Support > UM employees

Temporary employment for 3 years. Your salary would be € 2.222,-- gross per month in the first year up to € 2.840,-- gross per month in the fourth year according to the PhD-student salary scale. Each year an evaluation will take place.

Additional information

For more information and application see http://www.intricare.eu or contact: Dr. M.E. (Eline) Kooi, eline.kooi@mumc.nl or Prof.dr. R.M. (René) Botnar (rene.botnar@kcl.ac.uk).


Maastricht University is renowned for its unique, innovative, problem-based learning system, which is characterized by a small-scale and student-oriented approach. Research at UM is characterized by a multidisciplinary and thematic approach, and is concentrated in research institutes and schools. Maastricht University has around 16,500 students and 4,000 employees. Reflecting the university's strong international profile, a fair amount of both students and staff are from abroad. The university hosts 6 faculties: Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Faculty of Law, School of Business and Economics, Faculty of Humanities and Sciences, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience.

CARIM School for Cardiovascular Diseases

The Cardiovascular Research Institute Maastricht (CARIM), School for Cardiovascular Diseases, is one of the top institutes for translational cardiovascular research in Europe. It is among the world leaders in the fields of research into vascular and thrombotic disorders and atrial fibrillation as well as translational heart failure research. It has also made important international contributions to molecular imaging in the cardiovascular field.

With an annual budget of approximately 22 mln Euros in 2016, CARIM is one of the largest cardiovascular research institutes in Europe, producing more than 550 scientific articles and approximately 45 PhD dissertations per year. CARIM employs 250 researchers from 13 disciplines, about 120 PhD students and 50 technical and support staff members.

Over the last ten years, CARIM papers have been published in high-impact journals such as the New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, Nature Medicine, Nature Cell Biology, Cell Metabolism, Journal of Experimental Medicine, Circulation, Lancet Neurology, and the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. Bibliometric analyses illustrate that CARIM publications have been cited 1.97 times more often than the world average for the cardiovascular field in the period of 2009 until 2012.

CARIM is recognized by the KNAW as a research school and as an international training site for Early Stage Researchers in the framework of the Marie Curie Program.

Cardiovascular scientists from around the world join CARIM because it values open communication, close cooperation, high ambitions, good facilities and a critical learning environment.


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