PhD Position in Early Life

University of Amsterdam

PhD Position in Early Life

Faculty/Services:  Faculty of Science
Educational level:  Master
Function type:  PhD position
Closing date:  01.06.2024
Vacancy number:  12953

Gut microbiota develop rapidly during early life and are essential for our health during infancy and later life. Many factors potentially impact on this development, including but not limited to delivery modes, neonatal feeding (breast or formula), exposure to antibiotics, and both maternal and infant diet. Changing gut microbiota by these factors, in turn, can substantially impact the immune system, hence the infant’s susceptibility to the development of chronic diseases. 


However, how these factors regulate our gut microbiota, immune systems, and interactions is mostly mechanistically still unclear. Understanding this complex interaction will pave the way to the discovery of new targets for interventions aimed at improving metabolic health. This position is supported by the NWA program METAHEALTH focussing on oral and metabolic health.

What are you going to do? 

You will study the interactions among maternal factors, infant gut microbiota, and intestinal health aimed at understanding the underlying mechanisms. With our unique Gut on a chip physiomimetic GUMI platform and ‘omics’ analytical facilities, you will characterize the metabolic function of infant gut microbes under conditions that are relevant to  clinical observations. 


Using synthetic microbial communities, organoids, and gut-microbe coculture models, you will investigate the influence of maternal factors on the gut microbiota’s metabolic functions and how these functional changes modulate gut epithelium and immune function in early life, with a particular focus on metabolic function and naïve T cell maturation. You are expected to identify bacterial species, metabolites, or genes that are key in mediating mother-microbiota-infant interactions. 


This position is embedded at the Molecular Biology and Microbial Food Safety group at the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences, University of Amsterdam. You will be co-supervised by dr. Jianbo Zhang and Prof. dr. Stanley Brul (promotor).

What do we require? 

You have/are
•    a degree (MSc, or equivalent) in Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Immunology, Biomedical Sciences,

     or closely related fields. Candidates in the final stages of obtaining their degree are eligible to apply;
•    hands-on experience in anaerobic culturing, genetic engineering, cell culture, organoids,

     or microphysiological systems;
•    additional experience with genetic engineering or omics data analysis is an asset;
•    strongly motivated, highly curious, problem-solving, a teamplayer who can also work independently;
•    fluent in English, both written and spoken.


Our offer 

We offer a temporary contract for 38 hours per week 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 for 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 appointment (38 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will range from € 2770 in the first year to € 3539 (scale P) 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:


About us

The University of Amsterdam is the Netherlands' largest university, offering the widest range of academic programmes. At the UvA, 30,000 students, 6,000 staff members and 3,000 PhD candidates study and work in a diverse range of fields, connected by a culture of curiosity.
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 is one of the Faculty of Science’s largest institutes. Its approximately 240 scientists and staff members work in 19 research groups that perform excellent research centered on four themes: Neurosciences, Cell & Systems Biology, Microbiology and Green Life Sciences. 
Want to know more about our organisation? Read more about working at the University of Amsterdam.



Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 1 June 2024. You can apply online by using the link below.  


Applications in .pdf should include:
•    a motivation letter and CV, 
•    contact information of referees.


Please mention the months (not just years) in your CV when referring to your education and work experience.


We will invite potential candidates for on-line and on-site interviews. The latter in the week of Monday June 10th or Monday June 17th. 


A knowledge security check can be part of the selection procedure.
(for details: National knowledge security guidelines)



Studies show that women and members of underrepresented groups only apply for jobs if they meet 100% of the qualifications. Do you meet the educational requirements but do not yet have all the required experience? Then the UvA encourages you to apply anyway.