PhD position: Single-cell biology of the airway wall in health and disease


the Groningen Research Institute of Asthma and COPD (GRIAC)

Working Enviroment

Job description

The project
Asthma is a chronic respiratory disease with increasing prevalence. Asthma cannot be cured, and a subset of asthma patients does not respond to current treatment regimens, so novel curative interventions are urgently needed. The underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms of asthma are not fully characterized, but are thought to involve an interaction between airways epithelial cells and innate or adaptive immune cells. To elucidate the cellular and molecular mechanisms operating in asthma, we are performing a research project sponsored by the Lung Foundation, and in close collaboration with the research group of prof. Rudi Hendriks at the ErasmusMC. At the UMCG, we will perform single cell RNA sequencing on bronchial biopsies obtained from patients with asthma or healthy controls. We will isolate bronchial epithelial cells for CHIP-Seq analysis and for further functional analysis in ex vivo cultures of primary bronchial epithelial cells.

We have an opening for a PhD student, focused on the generation and analysis of single-cell RNA seq data, integration of these datasets with other levels of omics data (ATAC-Seq, CHIP-Seq, SNP genotypes) and performing functional validation experiments using matched primary epithelial cells in vitro using established methods including air-liquid interface cultures and 3D lung organoid culture models.

The project will be embedded within the Groningen Research Institute of Asthma and COPD (GRIAC), one of the 3 world’s leading translational research institutes in chronic respiratory disease. The project is a collaboration between UMCG and ErasmusMC, and will profit from a close collaboration with Sanger/EMBL. Parts of this research will also contribute to the Human Cell Atlas consortium.


The successful candidate will hold a recent MSc degree in Molecular Biology or Life Sciences, and meets the following criteria:
- Thorough background in molecular biology and bio-informatics, as evidenced by research experience and CV.
- Team player with excellent communicative skills who can collaborate efficiently within a multidisciplinary research environment.
- Strong motivation to perform cutting-edge research in a competitive, international research environment.
- Clear interest in immunological and epithelial cell biological research.
- Clear interest in functional genetics or genomics.

The UMCG has a preventive Hepatitis B policy. The UMCG can provide you with the vaccination, should it be required for your position.

In case of specific professions a ‘Certificate of Good Conduct’ is required.

Conditions of employment

- We offer a temporary contract for 1 year, with possible extension to 4 years.
- For PhD students, your monthly gross salary will be € 2.357,- gross per month in the first year up to a maximum of € 3.020,- gross per month in the last fourth year (scale PhD), based on a fulltime basis (36.0 hours per week).
- In addition, the UMCG will offer you 8% holiday pay and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
- The terms of employment comply with the Collective Labour Agreement for Medical Centers (CAO-UMC).
- Preferred starting date: as soon as possible.

More information
Dr. Martijn C. Nawijn, Associate Professor
Department of Pathology & Medical Biology
Groningen research Institute for Asthma and COPD,
University of Groningen, Groningen, the Netherlands
e-mail: (please do not use e-mail adress for applications)

Additional information

Extra information can be obtained thru the following links:
UMCG Corporate information/research
Welcome to Groningen

Applying for a job

Please use the the digital application form at the bottom of this page - only these will be processed. You can apply until 22 April 2019. Within half an hour after sending the digital application form you will receive an email- confirmation with further information.

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