PhD on the development of an early detection test for pre-eclampsia (1.0 FTE)

University of Groningen
April 16, 2024
Offerd Salary:€ 2,770
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Contract Type:Other
Working Time:Full time
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PhD on the development of an early detection test for pre-eclampsia (1.0

FTE) (V24.0119)

Job description

Applications are invited for one 4-year PhD study, in the research group of Dr F. Bianchi part of the Molecular Immunology group (Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute - https:// www. The PhD study entails a close collaboration with Dr J.R. Prins part of the reproductive immunology group at the University Medical Centre Groningen. The successful applicant will work on a multidisciplinary project aimed at developing a prognostic test for Preeclampsia.

During pregnancy, the maternal immune system adapts to tolerate the fetus. Insufficient tolerance is linked to preeclampsia, an inflammatory condition affecting 5-10% of pregnancies, leading to maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity. Preeclampsia is often diagnosed late, usually resorting to early delivery with frequently detrimental consequences for the fetus.

Early prediction of preeclampsia is hard due to the absence of clear symptoms and lack of reliable early biomarkers for disbalances in the T-cell populations. To address this, this project aims to create a robust prognostic test. This test will quantitatively measure the maternal inflammatory response to paternal Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) molecules early in pregnancy due to T-cell disbalances, which together with the T cell fitness is a predictor for complicated pregnancy such as preeclampsia.

Particularly, the candidate will:

• determine maternal T cell responses against isolated fetal / paternal MHC molecules • identify abnormal expression of immune checkpoints in T-regs and T-effs from peripheral blood of preeclamptic women as candidate prognostic markers • determine combined prognostic value of checkpoint markers and MHC probes in preeclampsia.

PhD candidates will receive excellent training through cutting-edge research projects, advanced courses and training opportunities, complemented by workshops on generic research, transferable skills and teaching. As a PhD candidate, you are committed to conduct independent and original scientific research, to report on this research in international publications and presentations, and to present the results of the research in a PhD dissertation, to be completed within 4 years. PhD candidates are expected to contribute 10% of their overall workload to teaching.

HTRIC This project is supported by and part of the Health Technology Research and Innovation Cluster (HTRIC). The Health Technology Research and Innovation Cluster is rethinking the future of healthcare. We bring academic research, health technology, and clinical practice together to tackle the challenges faced by today's healthcare system. Our aspiration? More healthy years of life for the people around us!

Through our research, we will foster new developments that support healthy aging and longevity while improving people's quality of life and making healthcare more efficient. We focus on the entire innovation chain, from societal and clinical demands to groundbreaking innovations and first-in-human applications.

We aim to speed up innovation through the interplay of knowledge development, health technology development, and business development. By linking researchers, businesses, and external professionals, we want to develop technologies that will continue to improve and transform our healthcare system. This is what HTRIC stands for.

Organisation Founded in 1614, the University of Groningen (https:// www. enjoys an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative center of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Flexible study programmes and academic career opportunities in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 36,000 students and researchers alike to develop their own individual talents. As one of the best research universities in Europe, the University of Groningen has joined forces with other top universities and networks worldwide to become a truly global center of knowledge.

This is a collaborative project between the Department of Molecular Immunology at the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE), and the Department of Obstetrics at the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG - https:// www.

City of Groningen: https:// www.


As this project involves basic and translational research in both biochemistry and Immunology, the ideal candidate has a strong multidisciplinary interest. Specifically, you must be able to acquire a solid knowledge of the immunological background and biochemistry techniques and have excellent communication skills to discuss and coordinate the collection of samples at the Obstetric department of the UMCG.


• MSc degree in the field of life sciences (Medicine, biomedical sciences, molecular biology, biochemistry, or related disciplines) • laboratory experience, for example with Immunology or experimental molecular biology research • excellent command of English language with strong communication skills • ability to work efficiently, independently as well as in a team • excellent communication skills.


• experience with mammalian cell culture, ELISA, flow cytometry and protein isolation/purification.

Organisation Conditions of employment

We offer you, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities:

• a salary of € 2,770 gross per month in the first year, up to a maximum of € 3,539 gross per month in the fourth and final year • a full-time position (1.0 FTE) • a holiday allowance of 8% gross annual income • an 8.3% end-of-the-year allowance.

The successful candidate will first be offered a temporary full-time position (1.0 FTE) of one year with the option of renewal for another three years. Prolongation of the contract is contingent on sufficient progress in the first year to indicate that a successful completion of the PhD thesis within the next three years is to be expected. A PhD training programme is part of the agreement and the successful candidate will be enrolled in the Graduate School of Science and Engineering.

The conditions of employment: https: // www.

The preferred starting date is 1 September 2024


Applications for the position should include (as a single PDF file):

• cover letter with background and motivation to apply for this position • curriculum vitae, including details of bachelor and master degrees, labwork experience and a publication list, if applicable • detailed (max. 2 pages) description of previous research experience, such as the Bachelor/Master research projects • contact details of 2 academic references who can provide information on your suitability for the position.

You may apply for this position until 15 April 11:59pm / before 16 April 2024 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the online application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website). Please upload your single PDF file as your ‘letter of motivation'.

The University of Groningen strives to be a university in which students and staff are respected and feel at home, regardless of differences in background, experiences, perspectives, and identities. We believe that working on our core values of inclusion and equality are a joint responsibility and we are constructively working on creating a socially safe environment. Diversity among students and staff members enriches academic debate and contributes to the quality of our teaching and research. We therefore invite applicants from underrepresented groups in particular to apply. For more information, see also our diversity policy webpage: https: // www. strategy/diversity-and-inclusion/

Our selection procedure follows the guidelines of the Recruitment code (NVP): https: // www. and European Commission's European Code of Conduct for recruitment of researchers: https: //

We provide career services for partners of new faculty members moving to Groningen.

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.


For information you can contact:

  • Dr Frans Bianchi (for questions and further information regarding this position), f.bianchi
  • Dr Jelmer Prins (for questions and further information regarding this position), j.r.prins
  • Please do not use the e-mail address(es) above for applications.

    Additional information
  • Department of Molecular Immunology
  • Department of Obstetrics UMCG
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