PhD Candidate ‘Elucidate the Function of Dystrophin in the Brain’ at Leiden University Medical Center

Vacancy number: D.20.MH.RD.11

type of vacancy: research

appointment: fulltime

hours: 36 hours per week

Type of employment: duration education

Duration: 4 years

Salary: max. € 3,103

educational requirements: academic

closing date: 08-03-2020

The position

The consequences of the lack of dystrophin in skeletal muscle and heart are the hallmarks of the muscle wasting disorder Duchenne muscular dystrophy. However, there are multiple dystrophin isoforms expressed from the DMD gene, of which the majority is expressed primarily in the brain. The lack of dystrophin in the brain leads to behavioural and cognitive abnormalities. As cognitive problems limit social participation, elucidating brain pathology is vital to develop a therapy to treat the brain. We are looking for a PhD to contribute to research on this subject.

In Short

·        You will contribute to research aimed to elucidate the brain pathology of DMD and develop a therapy

·        You hold a master’s degree in biomedical sciences, molecular biology or a related field

·        You have a background in neuroscience and are qualified to work with animal models

·        You are a solid communicator in English

·        You aim high and are motivated and perseverant

What you do

The PhD project will be part of a Horizon 2020 EU sponsored project in which the function of dystrophin in the brain will be elucidated, and the antisense oligonucleotides-mediated exon skip therapy will be used to treat the brain pathology. Your project will have a central focus on mouse models, lacking one or multiple brain isoforms. With the use of behavioural tests, brain MRI scans, and molecular analyses, including next generation sequencing, you will elucidate the function of dystrophin in the brain and reveal the consequences of a lack thereof in mouse models. You will also study the therapeutic potential of the exon skip therapy to postnatally treat the murine brain. 

Your workplace

The Department of Human Genetics is a broadly oriented research department, led by Professor Silvère van der Maarel, with a focus on the (epi)genomic contribution to monogenic, multifactorial and acquired diseases, and the translation into clinical relevance. The department consists of 21 research units, embedded in four overarching research themes. You will work in the DMD genetic therapy group; a diverse research team which closely collaborates with the Departments of Radiology and Neurology. Since the project is part of an EU-funded project, you will also collaborate with international experts on the DMD brain. 

Your profile

You should have a master’s degree in biomedical sciences, molecular biology, or a related field. A solid background in neuroscience or molecular biology and experience with experimental animals (in possession of a certificate to work with animals) is required. You are a quick learner, with excellent communication skills in English. You will work in an international team, use state of the art sequencing and molecular biology technologies, present data and write articles. Most importantly, you are highly motivated, well organized, perseverant, a high achiever, and a team player.

Your career at the LUMC

The LUMC stimulates you in maintaining and developing your knowledge and skills. We offer internal courses and continuous training as well as services in terms of  mobility, personal development and career advice.

More information

You will be appointed for the duration of four years. Your salary is a maximum of € 2,422 in the first year, amounting to a maximum of € 3,103 in the final year (scale PhD students, Collective Labour Agreement University Medical Centers).

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