Early Stage Researcher (PhD Student) position on “Target and untargeted cell-based metabolomics and lipidomics to identify molecular mechanisms and pathways involved in toxicity of PFAS”

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • Early Stage Researcher (PhD Student) position on “Target and untargeted cell-based metabolomics and lipidomics to identify molecular mechanisms and pathways involved in toxicity of PFAS”
  • University Graduate
Do you have a passion for science and wish to understand the environmental risk of chemicals? Then Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam would like to get to know you. 

FTE: 1

Job description

The PhD student position is at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam’s (VUA) Department of Environment and Health, and within the framework of the Marie Skłodowska -Curie Innovative Training Network (MSCA-ITN) project “Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances towards the future of research and its communication in Europe (PERFORCE3)”.
The PhD student will focus on the development of cell- and organ-on-chip-based metabolomics and lipidomics approaches using human adrenal cortex, and liver cells. The aims are to 1) clarify the molecular mechanisms involved in the toxicity of alternative PFASs with a focus on steroidogenesis, cholesterol synthesis and metabolism, and lipid transport, 2) link the metabolomic pathways with human cohort gene expression and metabolomics data, and 3) support AOP- and biomarker-development.
The PhD student will be employed and enrolled in the doctoral programme at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands. International collaboration is foreseen with BfR in Germany (2-month secondment – on hepatocyte metabolomics studies), and The Arctic University of Norway (1-month secondment – to integrate cell based metabolomics data with human metabolomics data). Come join our team and make a meaningful impact on healthy living.
The ITN PERFORCE3 is a European-wide multi-partner doctoral training programme in the field of PFASs contaminants. PFASs comprise more than 4’700 substances and are of high global concern due to poorly defined risks to the environment and human health. PERFORCE3 will greatly improve the understanding of these globally pervasive contaminants, find solutions for PFAS contamination problems and improve environmental and human health risk assessment frameworks and policies.
The ITN PERFORCE3 brings together world leaders in a range of disciplines (physical, synthetic, environmental and analytical chemistry, pharmacokinetics, epidemiology, toxicology, remediation science and chemical policy) with state-of-the-art technologies, providing high quality doctoral training and research environments. The training includes independent research work in individual yet interlinked research projects and a well-structured training programme including technical and professional transferable skills courses, as well as lab visits and secondments. Participation in PERFORCE3 will equip young scientists with research and transferable skills and competences, while fostering creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship and boosting their career perspectives through international, interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral mobility opportunities.For further information on PERFORCE3, please visit: www.perforce3-itn.eu.

Your duties
  • Develop and execute cell- and organ-on-chip based metabolomics and lipidomics studies with various PFASs using cell cultures and mass spectrometry (LC-QTOFMS, GC-QTOFMS, LC-MS/MS, and GC-MS)
  • Implement metabolomics pathway analyses, and study the effects of PFAS in an AOP approach


  • We are looking for a candidate with a MSc degree in (bio)analytical chemistry, molecular toxicology or pharmacology, and/or biochemistry
  • Knowledge of and experience with metabolomics, lipidomics, mass spectrometry, and cell culturing is recommended
  • Candidates should furthermore have the ability to work independently and in collaboration with others, and have strong oral and written communication skills in English
SCA eligibility criteria
1) At the date of recruitment the applicants for the MSCA fellowship must have no PhD and less than 4 years of full-time equivalent research experience from the award of the degree that entitles them to undertake a doctorate (either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the applicant is to be recruited).
2)  The applicants must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account.
These eligibility requirements are non-negotiable and ineligible applicants will not be considered.
Eligible applicants can be of any nationality.

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts € 2,325 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to € 2,972 (PhD) per month during the last year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for another 2 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. And to be a university where personal education and societal involvement play a leading role. Where people from different disciplines and backgrounds work together on innovations and on generating new knowledge. Our teaching and research embrace the whole spectrum of science – from the humanities, the social sciences and the pure sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,500 students. We employ more than 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible, located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

Diversity is one of our university’s core values. We are an inclusive community, and we believe that diversity and international activities enhance the quality of education and research. We are always looking for people who can enhance diversity on our campus thanks to their background and experience.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.

About the department, institute, project
The department of Environment & Health of VUA aims to understand and inform society on the environmental and human health risks of chemicals. The department is a unique combination of chemists, toxicologists and epidemiologists. We develop methods to discover emerging chemicals and focus our research to characterize their toxicity for the environment, including humans.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 24 August 2020.

Applications must be submitted via electronic application system. Applicants should provide the following information in their application in English:
1.   Cover Letter, stating the PhD project you are applying for and detailing your motivation and background for applying for the project. Please indicate if you have applied for other PERFORCE3 PhD fellowships (possible to apply up to three positions; indicate the preferences).
2.   A detailed CV including technical and analytical skills and publications if applicable.
3.   All academic level certificates (BSc and MSc) including university grades itemized by each course. Foreign documents should be sent as certified English translations.
4.   A synopsis (abstract) of the BSc and MSc thesis if applicable, or any previous research project.
5.   At least two professional referees (Name, address, telephone & email).

A review of applications will run continuously as they are received. The short-listed applicants complying with the requirements will be invited for personal or Skype interview.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Pim Leonards
Position: Professor
E-mail: pim.leonards@vu.nl
Telephone: +31 20 5989509


Name: Timo Hamers
Position: Associate Professor
E-mail: timo.hamers@vu.nl

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