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PhD: Linking neurodevelopment and mitochondria in human neurons using iPSC and xenotransplantation

Closing date
24 Jul 2024

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Life Science
Job Type
Research Assistant
Employment - Hours
Full time
Professional certification

Job Details

PhD position: Linking neurodevelopmental disorders and mitochondria in human neurons, using iPSC and xenotransplantation We are looking for an ambitious PhD student with a broad interest in interdisciplinary research working in the exciting field of Neuroscience.

Project While most genes associated with neurodevelopmental disorders (NDD) encode proteins involved in transcriptional/epigenetic regulation or synaptic function, increasing evidence suggests that mitochondria dynamics or function may be affected in at least some of these conditions.
Among NDD potentially linked to mitochondria are Rett syndrome (RTT) and MECP2 duplication syndrome, both caused by abnormal dosage of MECP2 protein. We have developed a xenotransplantation model for both disorders, as well as novel ways to investigate the mitochondrial phenotypes in human diseased neurons (Nageshappa et al. Mol Psychiatry. (2016);21(2):178-88; Linaro et al. Neuron (2019) 104(5):972-986; Iwata et al. Science (2023) 379: 1-9 science.abn4705). Here we will explore whether and how mitochondrial abnormalities contribute to the neurological pathology in human neurons in vitro and in vivo. This project will lead to novel insights into NDD mechanisms and potentially to innovative therapeutic venues.

  • The candidate should have a strong academic record and hold a Master's degree in any area of Biology or Biomedical Sciences (Medicine, Biomedical Sciences, Biology, BioEngineering (Cell- and Genebiotechnology), Neuroscience,..).
  • Previous research experience, especially regarding cell culture is a plus, but not essential.
  • English is the main language and proficiency in written and spoken English is crucial. 
  • You are a good writer, and you are not afraid of public speaking (e.g., delivering a conference presentation, ...) 
  • The selected candidate is expected to write a doctoral thesis after 4 years.
We offer
  • We offer employment as a full-time doctoral researcher in a stimulating expert environment, but the student will be asked to apply for FWO funding at least once.
  • The possibility to participate in international conferences and collaborations.
  • Doctoral training at the Leuven International Doctoral School of Biomedical Sciences
How to apply?

Please use the VIB HR Application tool.

Additional required information:

  • detailed CV
  • motivation letter describing your previous research experience
  • names and contact information of at least 2 references

For more information or informal inquiry please contact: 

Prof. Dr. Hilde Van EschDepartment of Human Genetics,  KULeuven, Laboratory for the Genetic of  Cognition,

Prof. Dr. Pierre Vanderhaeghen, VIB KULeuven Center for Brain and Disease Research, Stem Cell and Developmental Neurobiology Lab (,


VIB’s core mission is to generate disruptive insights in the molecular underpinning of life and to translate these actively into impactful innovations for patients and society. VIB is an independent research institute where some 1,800 top scientists from Belgium and abroad conduct pioneering basic research. As such, they are pushing the boundaries of what we know about molecular mechanisms and how they rule living organisms such as human beings, animals, plants, and microorganisms. Based on a close partnership with five Flemish universities – Ghent University, KU Leuven, University of Antwerp, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, and Hasselt University – and supported by a solid funding program, VIB unites the expertise of all its collaborators and research groups in a single institute. VIB’s technology transfer activities translate research results into concrete benefits for society such as new diagnostics and therapies and agricultural innovations. These applications are often developed by young start-ups from VIB or through collaborations with other companies. This also leads to additional employment and bridges the gap between scientific research and entrepreneurship. VIB also engages actively in the public debate on biotechnology by developing and disseminating a wide range of science-based information. 

More info can be found on

Company info
Rijvisschestraat 120

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