PhD candidate Bioanalytical Chemistry

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • PhD candidate Bioanalytical Chemistry
  • University Graduate
Are you a Chemist or Pharmacist passionate about bioanalytical chemistry and strongly committed to science and research? Would you like to work in a great team on a project involving the development of innovative (enantioselective) analytical techniques, metabolomics, clinical and forensic toxicology, and bioactivity screening? Please apply at VU Amsterdam.

FTE: 1

Job description

New psychoactive substances (NPS) represent a large and diverse range of drugs that have been designed to mimic and replace established illicit drugs. Chemical structures of NPS are constantly changing to avoid banning. Multiple analytical challenges are associated with NPS, such as need for continuous actualization of analytical methods, the lack of reference compounds, the (potential) presence of structural and/or optical isomers, and formation of unknown metabolites. Moreover, knowledge on the pharmacokinetics, toxicokinetics, and pharmacodynamics of NPS is limited, in particular for isomers/enantiomers. However, this information is highly needed from a public health perspective for the worldwide monitoring of high-risk NPS. 
This project aims at developing state-of-the-art (enantioselective) analytical strategies for the characterization, identification, and quantitation of structural and optical NPS isomers for subsequent in vitro and in vivo applications. Different mass spectrometry-based analytical approaches will be considered, including liquid chromatography, capillary electrophoresis, supercritical fluid chromatography, and ion mobility spectrometry. With the developed approaches, the PhD candidate will investigate (i) the potential differences in enantioselective in vitro biotransformation of isomers in human liver preparations and cultured human liver cells, and (ii) the differences in pharmacokinetics of NPS isomers and metabolites using in vivo experiments. The toxicity will be assessed using state-of-the-art bioactivity screening assays.
This project will be in close collaboration with groups from the Amsterdam Institute for Molecular and Life Sciences (AIMMS). It will also involve academic and governmental partners such as the University of Amsterdam (UvA), the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), and the Dutch Poisons Information Center (NVIC).


  • MSc or equivalent degree in (Analytical) Chemistry, Pharmacy, or (Bio-)Pharmaceutical Sciences
  • highly motivated candidate committed to research and showing a strong interest for bioanalysis and clinical and forensic toxicology
  • lab experience with analytical techniques such as LC-MS, CE-MS, SFC-MS or ion mobility-MS is a plus
  • strong affinity with lab work
  • solid oral and written communication skills and comfortable working both independently and in a team
  • willing to supervise BSc and MSc student projects.

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 €2,395 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,061 (PhD) per month during the fourth 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 a duration of 4 years in total.
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
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • a wide range of sports facilities which staff may use at a modest charge

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. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavour – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

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 Division of BioAnalytical Chemistry
The Division of BioAnalytical Chemistry (BAC) is part of the Department of Chemistry and Pharmaceutical Sciences of the Faculty of Science, and of AIMMS ( The mission of BAC is the development of innovative and improved analytical strategies and their applications to life-science challenges. The focus of the division is on advanced separation techniques combined with state-of-the-art mass spectrometry, optical spectroscopy, and bioactivity detection. BAC participates within the O|2 Metabolism Core Facility of AIMMS and strongly collaborates with the analytical-chemistry group of the University of Amsterdam (UvA) in the Center for Analytical Sciences Amsterdam (CASA). The division provides analytical courses in several BSc and MSc  programs, such as Chemistry (with UvA), Pharmaceutical Sciences, Drug Discovery and Safety, and Medical Natural Sciences.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until October 29, 2020.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

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

Name: Dr. Isabelle Kohler
Position: Assistant Professor

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