PhD Position in Developmental, Stem Cell and Cancer Biology

University of Amsterdam Institute for Life Sciences

PhD student Developmental, Stem Cell and Cancer Biology

Publication date 17 February 2021

Closing date 15 March 2021

Level of education Master's degree

Hours 38 hours per week

Salary indication €2,395 to €3,061 gross per month

Vacancy number 21-109

Are you fascinated by fundamental questions in the area of developmental, stem cell and cancer biology and looking for an opportunity to perform challenging research in this area? Would you like to investigate how the same molecular signals can be used over and over again with vastly different outcomes depending on the time and place of their activity? Are you eager to resolve the molecular mechanisms that control these tissue-specific signaling responses? This might be the chance to satisfy your curiosity. We are looking for a PhD student to study the tissue-specific initiation and interpretation of WNT/CTNNB1 signaling.

You will be embedded in the Developmental, Stem Cell and Cancer Biology group (led by dr. Renée van Amerongen), which is part of the Cell & Systems Biology cluster of the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS) in the Faculty of Science at the University of Amsterdam.

Research in our group aims to understand how complex tissues are built and maintained. We study this at multiple different levels – 'from man or mouse to molecule' – using a variety of experimental approaches and with a specific focus on WNT signal transduction, mammary gland biology and breast cancer. See our website for more details:

The goal of this particular research project is to functionally dissect the cis-acting enhancers that control mammary-specific Wnt gene expression. This project is part of our larger research effort to understand the (epi)genetic regulatory mechanisms that allow individual Wnt genes to display dynamic, but tightly controlled expression patterns in different tissues. Time permitting, you will also help determine how the mammary-specific WNT/CTNNB1 target gene repertoire is activated as part of our larger research effort to understand how WNT signaling activates different gene sets in different tissues.

What are you going to do?

You are expected to:

  • use different experimental approaches (including molecular biology, (primary) cell culture, in vivo fat pad transplantation assays and proximity labeling techniques);
  • perform your experiments in a systematic and well controlled manner;
  • keep accurate records by properly documenting and organizing your work;
  • stay on top of the relevant scientific literature;
  • discuss your work in our lab meetings, incorporate feedback and also give input to others;
  • supervise BSc and MSc internship students;
  • combine your practical and analytical skills to write (and ultimately publish) one or more research articles as part of completing a PhD thesis.

You will get the opportunity to:

  • present your work at (inter)national meetings in talks or posters;
  • continuously hone your academic, professional and personal skills.

What do we require?

We require:

  • a recent MSc degree in the biomedical sciences (or a related area);
  • strong interest in developmental, stem cell and cancer biology;
  • affinity with Wnt signaling and mammary gland biology ;
  • affinity with gene regulation, chromatin biology and/or developmental enhancers;
  • affinity with (epi)genetics and molecular analyses;
  • high intrinsic motivation and aptitude for fundamental research (reflected by your training record);
  • an Art. 9 qualification (or the willingness to become Art. 9 qualified);
  • willingness to work with mice;
  • willingness to supervise BSc and/or MSc students during their research internship;
  • fluency in English.

Our ideal candidate:

  • works well independently, but is also willing to contribute to team efforts;
  • shows excellent professional and personal communication skills;
  • shows excellent organizational skills;
  • shows excellent critical thinking and problem solving skills;
  • has some proficiency with bioinformatics analyses and/or R;
  • has demonstrated hands-on experience with one or more of the following techniques: DNA cloning, CRISPR/Cas mediated (epi)genome editing, proximity labeling techniques, CHIPseq, mouse handling, histological analyses, confocal microscopy, FACS analysis, histological analyses.

Our offer

We offer a temporary contract for 38 hours per week, preferably starting on 1 May 2021, for the duration of 4 years (the initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory evaluation it will be extended to a total duration of 4 years). This should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and Master students. 

Based on a full-time employment contract (38 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will range from €2,395 in the first year to €3,061 in the last year. This is exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8,3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here.


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Please contact:

  • dr Renée van Amerongen, associate professor Developmental, Stem Cell and Cancer Biology

About the Faculty of Science and the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 7,000, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS) is one of the largest institutes of the Faculty of Science of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Its mission is to understand the functioning of living organisms, from the most basic aspects up to complex physiological function(s). Biological processes are studied at the level of molecules, cells, cellular networks and organisms. Similar cellular processes and concepts are studied across different research topics and biological systems, using similar methodologies and technologies. Within the institute, this leads to exchange of information and research over the borders of individual disciplines. 

The institute has underpinning technologies that focus on mass spectrometry, genomics and transcriptomics, advanced data analysis and advanced microscopy. Knowledge from adjacent fields of science, in particular biochemistry, biophysics, medicine, bioinformatics, statistics and information technology makes

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 15 March 2021. You may apply online by using the link below. 

Applications should include:

  • a motivation letter;
  • a CV, including a list of publications and a funding record (if applicable and as appropriate for your career stage);
  • contact information (name and email) of max. two academic references.

We will invite potential candidates for interviews in the last two weeks of March 2021.

Apply now

No agencies please