Novel microfluidic technologies for forensic sample investigation
Last modification : Tuesday, March 7, 2023
The Laboratory for Forensic Genetics and the Biosensors group are looking for
a PhD researcher to work on novel microfluidic technologies for forensic
sample investigation. The Laboratory for Forensic Genetics, led by Prof.
Bekaert, is part of the Department of Forensic Medicine at UZ Leuven and is an
established laboratory in the Department of Imaging and Pathology at KU
Leuven. The Laboratory for Forensic Genetics has recently started a
collaboration with the MeBioS-Biosensors group within the Biosystems
Department at KU Leuven. The Biosensors group, headed by Prof. Jeroen
Lammertyn, develops novel bio-molecular detection concepts and miniaturized
analysis systems, focusing on bio-assay development, optical sensors, and
The low efficiency of current DNA extraction procedures and the deconvolution
of complex DNA profiles required after bulk sequencing, remain major
challenges for forensic DNA laboratories and has significant impact on the
ability to include or exclude a suspect as a donor. We have recently
demonstrated that fluorescence-activated cell sorting has significant
potential to increase the sensitivity of forensic DNA analysis.
In this project, we aim to build further on these advancements by (1)
designing and developing a cell preselection microfluidic device for
application in one of the most common samples in forensic investigations
(i.e. trace contact samples) and (2) validation and accreditation of this
new analytical protocol in an ISO17025 accredited laboratory. This project is
part of an ongoing collaboration between the Laboratory for Forensic Genetics
and the MeBioS-Biosensors group allowing the candidate to develop a large
array of transdisciplinary skills while contributing towards the development
of an innovative solution for the analysis of male-female mixture samples in
complex forensic casework.
Your work will focus on:
Design, fabrication and validation of microfluidic chips for cell sorting
(autoCAD, soft lithography, microfluidic pumps, widefield microscopy)
Forensic DNA profiling analysis (PCR, CE and NGS – MiSeq/Nanopore)
Statistical analysis (including analysis of NGS data)
You will develop microfluidic devices using soft lithography techniques
You will perform cell sorting experiments using microfluidic techniques
followed by forensic DNA profiling.
You will perform statistical analysis including large datasets.
You will supervise lab rotation students and master students.
You will report your data to your supervisors, other researchers, as well
as at (international) conferences.
A PhD candidate should fulfil the following requirements:
You have a Master's degree cum laude in Bioscience Engineering, Biomedical
Engineering, (Bio)Medical Sciences, Biophysics or equivalent
You are highly motivated to do research in dynamic environment and as part
of this unique interdisciplinary project
You are communicative, creative, eager to learn and able to work
independently as well as part of the team
You are familiar with general laboratory practices and have attention to
You have knowledge of microfluidic systems, preferentially polymer-based
microfluidic devices, and basic knowledge of standard molecular biology
techniques, DNA sample preparation and statistical analysis
You are familiar with software for microfluidic chips design (e.g.
autoCAD) and statistical analysis (e.g. SPSS, R studio)
You are eager to use engineering skills in the interdisciplinary field of
microfluidics and forensic research with a strong hands-on attitude
You have a strong and proven knowledge of the English language, both
talking and writing, according to the KU Leuven English language criteria
You are proficient in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams
We offer a doctoral position in a stimulating, interdisciplinary environment
and scientific development opportunities in international and dynamic teams
You will be working on an interdisciplinary PhD at the interface between
forensics and microfluidic technologies, supported by leading research
teams with a widespread network of international and local collaborators,
and in an excellent international research environment at KU Leuven.
You will have access to state-of-the-art research facilities and will be
registered in a specific program of the doctoral school at the KU Leuven.
A joint PhD between Biomedical Sciences and Bioscience Engineering at KU
Leuven is possible.
You will be supervised by well-trained scientists and receive thorough
training in conducting research, presentations and writing.
Participation in an individually shaped PhD program with different
opportunities to present and share data on weekly seminars, lectures and
A full time 4-year (1+3) contract for a PhD position. The candidate will
be encouraged to apply for personal funding.
For more information please contact Prof. dr. Bram Bekaert, mail: or Prof. dr.
ir. Jeroen Lammertyn, tel.: +32 16 32 14 59, mail:
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish,
regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If
you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us
at [email protected]