Post-doc in lung regeneration (2.0 FTE)


Faculty of Science and Engineering


University of Groningen

University of Groningen. Founded in 1614, the University of Groningen enjoys an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative institution of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Flexible study programs and academic career opportunities in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 31,000 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 centre of knowledge.

Leiden University Medical Center. LUMC is a modern university medical center for research, education and patient care with a strong scientific orientation. Basic research at the LUMC results in new discoveries and leads to future innovations, and translational and clinical research is conducted to develop innovations and improve healthcare. A state-of-the-art infrastructure is available for research excellence. Regenerative medicine is one the main research focus areas of the LUMC and Leiden University. Its unique research practice, ranging from pure fundamental medical research to applied clinical research, places LUMC among the world top.

The University of Twente. We stand for life sciences and technology. High tech and human touch. Education and research that matter. New technology which drives change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university in the Netherlands; divided over six faculties we provide more than fifty educational programmes. The University of Twente has a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out pioneering research. Research, which enjoys a high profile both at home and internationally, has been accommodated in the multidisciplinary research institutes MESA+ and the Technical Medical Centre.

Aston University. Aston University is a public research university situated in the city centre of Birmingham, United Kingdom. Aston began as the Birmingham Municipal Technical School in 1895, evolving into the UK's first College of Advanced Technology in 1956. Aston University received its royal charter from Queen Elizabeth II on 22 April 1966. In 2017, Aston received recognition by Times Higher Education for the second-best teaching quality in the UK. For 2018, it was ranked in the top 55 universities in the UK by all major domestic and international league tables. Aston was ranked by QS as the 42nd best university in the world under 50 years old in 2015. The School of Life & Health Sciences at Aston is acknowledged as UK-leading, with an outstanding reputation for teaching and research. The School prides itself on its excellence in research which is integrated into lectures, both at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, giving students the distinct advantage of access to the latest trends, thinking, issues and research in their particular field.

Job description

The University of Groningen, Aston University (Birmingham, UK), the Leiden University Medical Center, and the University of Twente have 2 post-doc positions (1.0 FTE) available on a joint consortium project to investigate new mechanisms of lung repair focusing on the role of the endothelial cell.

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is among the commonest lung diseases in the world, characterized by a progressive loss of lung function that is not fully reversible. Destruction of functional gas exchange units (alveoli) in the distal lung leads to emphysema; this is a pathological feature of a sub-group of COPD patients, contributing to impaired lung function, reduced quality of life and mortality. Prevention of further lung damage and innovative treatments aimed at lung repair in COPD are major unmet needs.

A gas exchange unit is composed of the alveolar epithelium and microvascular endothelium, separated by a thin layer of extracellular matrix. Injury to these units leads to emphysema. Paradoxically, whereas the functional role of the alveolar epithelial progenitor in lung repair is increasingly recognized, pulmonary microvascular injury and regeneration in COPD has been poorly investigated. Yet, prevention of lung damage and restoration of function will only be possible if both sides of the gas exchange unit are adequately nurtured towards repair. Crucially, microvascular endothelial cells are increasingly recognized as drivers rather than bystanders in emphysema development.

Here, we propose that pulmonary microvascular endothelial cells are a primary orchestrator of lung repair. Therefore, as a consortium of stem cell biologists, pharmacologists, biomedical technologists with expertise in alveolar epithelial repair, vascular endothelial regeneration and human disease model technology, together with patients we have set out to 1) dissect inflammation-induced endothelial dysfunction 2) characterize molecular endothelial cell defects in COPD and 3) provide proof-of-concept that endothelial targeting restores the alveolar microvasculature.

This consortium will deliver new knowledge in the area of lung repair, focusing on the instructive role of the endothelial cell. As the endothelial cell is easily targetable with cell therapy and drugs, we anticipate that this will yield innovative yet relatively straightforward views on how tissue damage in COPD can be prevented and treated.

The appointment of Post-doc position 1 will be shared by the University of Groningen and Aston University. You will spend around 50% of your time at both these institutions. You will work on the role of the endothelial cell in instructing alveolar epithelial cells and in instructing pericytes. The aim will be to unravel mechanisms of cell-cell communication that will be evaluated as potential drug targets.

The candidate for Post-doc position 2 will have a primary affiliation with the Leiden University Medical Center and will work closely with the University of Twente through recurring research stays of multiple weeks. You will work on the role of the endothelial cell in instructing alveolar epithelial cells using new technologies including induced pluripotent stem cells and microfluidic vessel-on-a-chip models. The aim will be to unravel mechanisms of cell-cell communication that will be evaluated as potential drug targets.

The preferred starting dates will be 1 January 2020.


You have the following qualifications:
• a PhD degree in (Medical) Biology, Pharmacology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Medicine, Biomedical Engineering, Life Science and Technology, or a related area
• experience with endothelial cell biology and 3D organoid cultures is desirable for post-doc position 1
• experience with induced pluripotent stem cells, organ-on-chip models and 3D organoid cultures is desirable for post-doc position 2
• demonstrable (publications) experience in pulmonary or vascular cell biology
• good knowledge of written and spoken English
• enthusiasm for biomedical and pharmaceutical research in an interdisciplinary setting
• one of the specific requirements for this position is mobility between two different sites. Although appointment of post-doc 1 is at the University of Groningen, the position is a formal collaboration between the University of Groningen (Prof. Reinoud Gosens, Prof. dr. Marco Harmsen) and Aston University (Dr Jill Johnson). Although appointment of post-doc 2 is at the Leiden University Medical Center, the position is a formal collaboration between the Leiden University Medical Center (Prof. Pieter Hiemstra) and the University of Twente (Dr Andries van der Meer).

Conditions of employment

Contract length: 18 months.

Appointments will be for 1.0 FTE, and will be based on the CAO for Dutch Universities for post-doc 1 and the CAO for Dutch UMCs (NFU) for post-doc 2. We provide a competitive salary including a 8% holiday allowance and a 8.3% end-of-the-year bonus. Both positions are initially for 1.5 years, with the possibility to extend to maximally 3.5 years. Extension will be based on an evaluation of the candidate’s performance after 12 months.

Job Application

Applications for the position should include:
• curriculum vitae (name, address, degree(s) with transcript(s) of grades, research experience, educational and employment history, etc.)
• motivation letter
• name and (e-mail) address of two academic references.

You can submit your application until 3 November 11.59pm / before 4 November 2019 Dutch local time (CET) by means of the application form (click on "Apply" below on the advertisement on the university website).
In your application, please always include for which position you apply, also if you wish to apply for both positions. If you wish to apply for both positions, please indicate which position has your preference.

Unsolicited marketing is not appreciated.

Additional information

For additional information, please contact:

Reinoud Gosens, Associate Professor of Translational Pharmacology

In your application, please always include the job opening ID 219485-525

Digital application form