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  3. PhD-candidate Chemometrics, Analytical Chemistry and Biochemistry / FHML / NUTRIM / Dept. of Pharmacology and Toxicology

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PhD-candidate Chemometrics, Analytical Chemistry and Biochemistry / FHML / NUTRIM / Dept. of Pharmacology and Toxicology

This PhD project involves comprehensive profiling of Colorectal cancer (CRC). A common blood test (iFOBT) is not accurate enough. There is a pressing need for an accurate, non-invasive diagnostic tool for CRC that offers a ...

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Robert Schumandomein, Maastricht, Limburg
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
36 - 40 uur
€ 2222 - € 2840 per maand


This PhD project involves comprehensive profiling of Colorectal cancer (CRC). CRC is Europe’s second most prevalent malignant disease. Due to its gradual development via premalignant lesions, its timely detection requires regular screenings. Routine screening programmes, as recommended by the Council of Europe and undertaken from age 50, are key to preventing CRC. One common screening method is the immunochemical faecal-occult-blood-test (iFOBT), but this suffers from high false-positive rates and requires endoscopic follow-up. Therefore, there is a pressing need for an accurate, non-invasive diagnostic tool for CRC that offers a sufficiently high negative predictive value (NPV) such that it can be implemented in primary screening routines and thereby reduce the frequency of colonoscopy procedures.

An exhaustive profiling of the disease is envisioned using advanced machine learning (chemometrics) technologies to mine large datasets of volatile metabolites in exhaled breath, and feces.

This PhD project focuses on the investigation of exhaled breath and fecal headspace of CRC patients and individuals affected with other bowel-related diseases (such as Inflammatory Bowel Disease and Irritable Bowel Disease) to find CRC-specific markers. The specificity and sensitivity of volatiles compounds in exhaled breath and feces to diagnose CRC will be investigated separately and in combination. The aim of combining various sources of data, i.e. volatiles in breath and feces, is to obtain optimal discriminating power and to get more insights in the disease pathogenesis. This approach will also provide new insights into host-microbiome interactions, which recognizes the complicated nature of CRC.

The current project is a part of an international EU project in collaboration with breath research groups in Germany and Poland. Thus, the patients recruited for the purpose of this project will be coming from 3 different centers (The Netherlands, Germany and Poland) making it more comprehensive in terms of disease description.


What we expect

We are looking for an enthusiastic person with a strong interdisciplinary profile to join our team in the function of PhD-student (AIO), for a period of 4 years. The right candidate finished his/her master’s study in Analytical Chemistry, Biochemistry, or related relevant study. He/she is eager to perform research on the crossroads of biomedical sciences, including chemometrics, statistics, analytical chemistry and metabolomics. Experience with chemometric techniques is mandatory, whereas experience with analytical methods is an advantage. Knowledge of Matlab, R or Python is a pre-requisite.

Tasks and responsibilities

The PhD student is responsible for:

  • carrying out the main experiments and data analysis designed within the above described project
  • generating ideas within the scope of the defined subject
  • analyzing the generated data and preparing manuscripts based on the most important findings
  • staying abreast of developments in his/her scientific discipline by keeping up with the scientific literature in his/her field and visiting scientific meetings


Temporary employment for 4 years.

Your salary will 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.

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 www.maastrichtuniversity.nl , Support/UM employees/Employment conditions.

Additional information

For more information regarding this vacancy you can contact one of the projectleaders:

Prof. Dr. Frederik-Jan van Schooten: F.vanSchooten@maastrichtuniversity.nl

Dr. Agnieszka Smolinska: a.smolinska@maastrichtuniversity.nl


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 16,300 students and 4,300 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.

NUTRIM School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism

NUTRIM School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism initiates and catalyzes translational research into nutritional health benefits and risks focusing on metabolic and chronic inflammatory diseases. Through its research master and PhD programme NUTRIM aims to educate scientists of high academic excellence and ambassadors to support and develop the filed of nutrition, metabolism and toxicology within and outside the Netherlands. 16 Biomedical, clinical, and behavioural-science departments are incorporated within NUTRIM. The school is a partner in the national Top Institutes TI Food&Nutrition, TI-Pharma and the Centre for Translational Molecular Medicine (CTMM). These unique consortia of government, industry and research aim to stimulate the transfer of knowledge generated in fundamental research to Dutch industry and thus to strengthen its innovative power and competitive strength.