PhD Position on Biomedical Optics

VU University of Amsterdam Department of Physics and Astronomy

We are looking for an enthusiastic candidate with a masters or equivalent degree in (applied) physics or a related field, with a strong interest in biomedical optics. Would you like to work both in an international research group in an academic environment and at a non-profit R&D center focused on bringing innovations to the market? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VU).

Interest in molecular imaging has exploded in the last decade. Direct in vivo molecular imaging will become increasingly important as therapies become more specialized and molecule-specific to the disease. This requires visualizing molecular expression and molecular interaction at the cellular level and imaging in detail tissue structure and function in vivo.

The goal of the NWO-TTW Perspectief program “Medical Photonics - MEDPHOT” is to develop and validate photonics-based technologies that enable earlier diagnosis and better and/or tailored treatment of diseases and translate these technologies to a clinical environment in collaborative projects with clinical opinion leaders in pulmonology, urology, and gastroenterology.

Within the MEDPHOT program the Netherlands Organization for Applied Scientific Research (TNO) and VU focus on the development of hybrid optical technologies for combined structural and molecular specific imaging, including the development of novel catheters and capsules specifically optimized for combined detection. Specifically, at the VU high-end OCT systems will be developed that combine structural with targeted fluorescence imaging, i.e., an integrated immuno-OCT platform. New catheters will be designed for multifunctional imaging based on a double clad fiber design. In close collaboration with TNO the probe design will be simulated for quantitative analysis of fluorescent signals using Monte Carlo simulations of light transport in tissue, and validated in scattering, absorbing and fluorescent tissue-mimicking phantoms. Algorithms to extract the scattering and absorbing properties of the tissues as well as the concentration of fluorescent contrast agents from the optical signals, for different tissues, will be developed.


FTE: 1

Job description

For this project, we are looking for a PhD student who will expand the work on Monte Carlo simulations of light tissue interactions, the fluorescence quantification algorithm development and the artificial tissue development for technical validations. The research will be conducted at 2 locations, TNO in Delft and VU in Amsterdam. The candidate will be part of the PhD program of the Biomedical Physics Group of the VU, under joint supervision of Prof. Dr. A. Amelink and Prof. Dr. J.F. de Boer.

Your duties

  • the PhD student will model light-tissue interactions to optimize the fluorescence quantification algorithms for different tissue types under investigation in the MEDPHOT program, and build model tissues that are required for the technical validation of the system
  • the PhD student will assist in clinical pilot studies by performing the data analysis and interpretation


For this position we are looking for an enthusiastic candidate

  • with a masters or equivalent degree in (applied) physics or a related field, with a strong interest in biomedical optics
  • candidates should have good computational skills (Python, C++) and be able to communicate in English both verbally and in writing. The project’s results will be presented on national and international medical and technical conferences and in relevant journals. The successful candidate is expected to write a dissertation leading to a PhD degree towards the end of the 4-year project

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €2,395 (PhD)
and a maximum €3,061 (PhD), depending on your education and experience. The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for 1 FTE.

The initial employment contract will affect a period of 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a total duration of 4 years.

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP), contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavour – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.


We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.

About the department of Physics and Astronomy

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at VU Amsterdam offers an active and engaged intellectual community composed of researchers from around the world. Research is focused on four themes: (i) high-energy and gravitational physics, (ii) quantum metrology and laser applications, (iii) physics of life and health, and (iv) physics of photosynthesis and energy. The department is involved in teaching in the programs Physics and Astronomy (joint degree with the University of Amsterdam), Science Business and Innovation, Medical Natural Sciences (all three BSc and MSc), and the BSc program in Mechanical Engineering (together with University of Twente). Furthermore, the department has a strong track record in valorization of its research, including translational research to the clinic (often together with the Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc (on campus) and location AMC), collaborations with industry (e.g. ARCNL), and a thriving startup scene.

About TNO

The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO is a non-profit R&D center focused on bringing innovations to the market. The Optics expertise group in Delft employs ~60 people from different nationalities and works on societal challenges such as the energy transition, climate control and healthcare in an ageing society. TNO's research in the field of medical devices focuses mainly on innovative photonics-based diagnostic devices for use in the entire healthcare chain: for home-based health monitoring and prevention, for improved diagnostics at the general practitioner and in hospitals, as well as for therapy effectiveness monitoring.


Are you interested in this position? Applicants are requested to respond before 26 February 2021 via the application button by uploading the following documents:

  • a letter in which they describe their abilities and motivation
  • accompanied by a detailed curriculum vitae with two or three references
  • a list of grades, TOEFL and/or IETLS scores (if available)
  • and a sample of a written report in English

Please mention the vacancy number in the e-mail header of your documents.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions

For additional information about this position, please contact:

Name: Prof. Dr. Arjen Amelink
Position: Endowed Professor (Biophotonics and Medical Imaging)

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