Leiden University – PhD candidate for Microbial Metabolomics for Infant Immune Fitness

In this project, we will investigate the effect of the gut microbiome on immune fitness. We will study how infant formula with synbiotics can improve immune fitness. Our approach will be to combine multi-omics analyses and systems biology on several microbiological and host parameters. We will use samples derived from clinical trials that performed nutrition interventions on children with allergy or who are at high risk of allergy development. Our results will unravel the connection between microbiota composition, microbial metabolome and the immune system.

The aim of your PhD project is to identify molecular markers that underlie the interaction between early life nutrition, intestinal microbial metabolome, and host immune status that predict immune fitness development. You will improve the sample preparation and analytical methods for measuring metabolites in feces, saliva and plasma. You will develop a high throughput immune fitness metabolomics platform for the measurement of metabolic markers in clinical samples. You will analyze the data using multivariate statistics and develop computational models. You may validate your findings using in-vitro experiments. You will work with Danone, microbiome experts from Wageningen University and immunology experts from Radboud University Medical Centre.

Selection criteria

  • Master/Engineering degree in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biology or Biomedical Engineering preferably with majors in Analytical Chemistry and Mass Spectrometry.
  • Strong interest in the field of metabolomics, microbiome, immune fitness, chromatography, mass spectrometry, and chemometrics applied to biological samples is desired.
  • Proficient in spoken and written English.
  • An independent and creative team player with good communicative skills.
  • Able to work independently in a multidisciplinary environment.

EMPLOYER – Universiteit Leiden
Leiden is a typical university city, hosting the oldest university in the Netherlands (1575). The University permeates the local surroundings; University premises are scattered throughout the city, and the students who live and study in Leiden give the city its relaxed yet vibrant atmosphere.

Leiden University is one of Europe’s foremost research universities. This prominent position gives our graduates a leading edge in applying for academic posts and for functions outside academia.

DEPARTMENT – Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are committed to expand fundamental knowledge by curiosity and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future.

The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organized in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programs. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2.200 staff and almost 4.200 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.

The Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR) is a leading institute dedicated to world-class research and education in drug discovery and development. LACDR comprises a diverse and international team of approximately 150 researchers and is ideally located at the Leiden Bio Science Park, the largest life science cluster in The Netherlands. For more information, see https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/science/drug-research

Within the LACDR there is a growing focus on using (translational) metabolomics and patient derived organ-on-a-chip systems in the areas of drug research, translational disease research, systems pharmacology, computational modeling and biostatistics, and integration with epidemiological studies, genetics and clinical studies.

You will work at the Analytical Biosciences and Metabolomics group at the LACDR that has a world-leading reputation in the field of metabolomics, and has a track record in developing novel analytical and microfluidic methods and applying them to biological questions and drug research.

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