KU Leuven

Postdoctoral research fellow in cartilage mechanobiology

KU Leuven

leuven, Belgium

We are looking for an excellent postdoctoral researcher to strengthen our research line on the relation between mechanical loading and the biological response of the articular cartilage. This research line is an ongoing collaboration between the Human Movement Biomechanics Research Group (Prof. Ilse Jonkers) and the Laboratory of Tissue Homeostasis and Disease (Prof. Rik Lories) in the Skeletal Biology and Engineering Research Center at KU Leuven, Belgium
We aim to evaluate how and to what extent clinically relevant mechanical loading affects cartilage homeostasis, regeneration and degeneration. More specifically, we want to investigate the role of mechanical loading in cell- and tissue responses in the joint and its role in cartilage adaptation at the molecular, cell and tissue level in the context of early osteoarthritis. Central in this work will be a unique and innovative multi-axial bioreactor suite installed in winter 2018 that will allow us to mimic multi-axial in vivo loading.

Within the Human Movement Biomechanics research group, we investigate the effect of loading on adaptive processes of the musculoskeletal system and cartilage in particular. Our group was the first to document altered mechanical loading in the knee joint of patients with early OA, documented even before structural changes were identified on RX. Furthermore, we documented altered deformations and elevated strains in damaged cartilage.

Within the Skeletal Biology and Engineering Research Center, the Tissue Homeostasis and Disease laboratory studies focuses on endogenous tissue responses in the joint with specific attention towards translational questions in chronic arthritis, in particular osteoarthritis. We were the first to demonstrate the key homeostatic role of Wnt signalling in the postnatal joint. The observation that mice in which the Wnt antagonist Frzb has been genetically deleted show increased severity of osteoarthritis pointed the attention of a large research community towards this pathway in particular in osteoarthritis. Recent studies on DOT1L and ANP32A in osteoarthritis have further positioned the Center in osteoarthritis research.

In this collaborative interdisciplinary research line, both groups joined forces to relate cartilage loading to biological responses in a bioreactor set-up, with the ultimate goal to develop loading protocols that can prevent cartilage degeneration and optimally support cartilage homeostasis. With this vacancy, we are seeking curiosity-driven, creative, independent and hard-working postdoctoral candidates with a strong publication record and a growth mindset interested in documenting the mechano-responsiveness of healthy and diseased cartilage following multi-axial loading using dedicated mechano-sensitive molecular reporter constructs.

Website unit


• Conduct research on cartilage mechanobiology, more specific the molecular basis of the response to multi-axial loading in healthy and diseased cartilage, as well as neo-generated cartilage tissue.
• Assist in further developing this research line and writing of research proposals in this area.
• Co-supervise ongoing PhD students and master student projects in this research area.
• Contribute to teaching in the expertise area depending on the candidate’s profile.
• Administrative and technical support of activities within the research group.


You have a PhD degree in biomedical sciences, biology, bio-engineering, biomedical engineering or equivalent as can be derived from the topic of the PhD research. Candidates that do not hold the doctoral degree at the date of the application closure are encouraged to apply.

You have expertise in cell and molecular biology and tissue culture Candidates with previous bioreactor experience have an advantage.

You have a strong interest in cartilage mechanobiology in the context of early osteoarthritis as well as tissue regenerative approaches and are prepared to support new grant applications in this area.

You have a multidisciplinary attitude. You will be closely collaborating in a multidisciplinary team of 3 PIs from human movement science, medicine and biomedical engineering


The current position is initially offered for 1 year, but can be prolonged upon positive evaluation. Candidates will be fully supported to apply for follow-up finances and personal fellowships.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Ilse Jonkers, tel.: +32 16 32 91 05, mail: ilse.jonkers@kuleuven.be or Prof. dr. Rik Lories, tel.: +32 16 37 26 73, mail: rik.lories@kuleuven.be.
You can apply for this job no later than December 01, 2019 via the online application tool
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.

Please apply via recruiter’s website.