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PhD position on host control of pathobiont species

From birth onwards all organisms are colonized by microbial species. These microbial species mainly consist of benign bacteria (symbionts) that help digest …

9 maanden geleden


Droevendaalsesteeg, Wageningen, Gelderland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 38 uur


From birth onwards all organisms are colonized by microbial species. These microbial species mainly consist of benign bacteria (symbionts) that help digest food by converting and liberating inaccessible nutrients. Additionally, the intestinal microbial community (microbiota) prevents opportunistic pathogens to colonize by occupying different niches and competing for food. In response to colonizing bacteria, the host immune system develops (it learns to discriminate between friend and foe) and in turn the immune system can shape the microbial community by removing pathogenic species. Interestingly, our research and that of others, has shown that during early colonization some opportunistic pathogenic species (pathobionts) are able to colonize the gut, and are actively repressed involving specific cells of the adaptive immune system. This seems to be a highly conserved vertebrate mechanism that has been observed in humans, mice and fish. However, we do not understand how the host reduces pathobionts specifically, while leaving symbionts unaffected. In our previous research we demonstrated that T cells (specific immune cells) are involved in controlling pathobiont levels in zebrafish. This project aims to investigate how. By using the unique features of the zebrafish, we will be able to identify which mediators and cells are involved in pathobiont control, investigate the specificity of the response (are all pathobionts suppressed by the same or different mechanisms?). Since pathobionts reside in the lumen of the gut while the immune cells are present at a distance underneath the intestinal barrier, the question remains how mediators of the immune cells can reach and impact the luminal pathobionts. Understanding the mechanism of pathobiont control will open new treatment options (using the body's natural response instead of antibiotic treatment) to combat disturbed microbial communities.


An MSc in (Medical) Biotechnology, Microbiology, Molecular Life Sciences, Biology or equivalent.
Good proficiency of written and spoken English language (IELT test is a prerequisite to start).
Excellent presentation and communication skills.
Excellent project and time management skills.
An interest in working with in vivo animal models and microscopy.
Enthusiasm in working in an international team.

Preference will be given to candidates with demonstrated experience in (some of) the fields listed below

  • Background in Immunology and/or Microbiology.
  • Background in Molecular biology.
  • Demonstrated experience with microscopy techniques.
  • Art. 9 Laboratory Animals Certificate.
  • Experience in working with zebrafish
  • Experience working on CRISPR-cas9


Full time position for an initial period of 15 months with the possibility of extension to 4 years. Gross salary per month € 2325,- in the first year rising up to € 2972,- per month in the fourth year.

In addition, we offer:
  • 8% holiday allowance;
  • a structural year-end bonus of 8.3%;
  • excellent training opportunities and secondary employment conditions;
  • excellent pension plan through ABP;
  • 232 vacation hours, the option to purchase extra and good supplementary leave schemes;
  • a flexible working time: the possibility to work a maximum of 2 hours per week extra and thereby to build up extra leave;
  • a choice model to put together part of your employment conditions yourself, such as a bicycle plan;
  • a lively workplace where you can easily make contacts and where many activities take place on the Wageningen Campus. A place where education, research and business are represented;
  • use the sports facilities at reduced prices on campus
We offer a versatile job in an international environment with varied activities in a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

Additional information

How to apply: You can only apply via the website of Wageningen University & Research https://www.wur.nl/en/Jobs/Vacancies.htm or https://www.academictransfer.com/en/.

Please include a cover letter (max. 1 A4) with a statement of research interests, explanation of your motivation and suitability for the project, a CV, and names and contact information of at least two professional references who can document the applicant is self-motivated and can work independently.

For additional questions regarding the project, you can contact Dr. Sylvia Brugman sylvia.brugman@wur.nl. Applications via e-mail are not eligible.

Applications will be open until the 11th of November 2019. The candidate should be available to start preferably by the 1st of January 2020.