PhD-student in cellular neuroscience

The department of Functional Genomics, part of the Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research in Amsterdam (see, and Human Gentics at the Amsterdamumc, is seeking applications for a PhD-student in in cellular neuroscience (38h/wk, 1 + 3 years)

FTE: 1

Job description

You will be working as a PhD student on the following project:

Excitation/inhibition balance in networks of human neurons from patients with neurodevelopmental disorders

Monogenetic neurodevelopmental disorders affect about 1 in 6 children in the EU for which currently no general effective therapy exists. This project is part of a larger program “BRAINMODEL: Standardized, iPSC-based medicine for immediate application in monogenic neurodevelopmental disorders (mNDDs)”. 

BRAINMODEL is a multidisciplinary consortium, with partners in Nijmegen, Twente and Rotterdam, in which clinicians, neuroscientists, nanoscientists and patient organizations collaborate to develop new methods to identify biological causes for mNDDs with the aim to develop personalized medicine (

In this particular project, we will use fluorescence imaging and patch-clamp electrophysiology to study synaptic transmission and neuronal function in networks from inducible pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) derived neurons (in vitro) with mNDD causing mutations. You will specifically investigate cellular and synaptic parameters that affect the balance between excitation and inhibition (E/I) in these networks. One of the leading hypotheses is that E/I balance is disturbed in neurodevelopmental disorders, leading to altered information processing in the brain. Together we will test if and how cellular and synaptic parameters are changed in excitatory/inhibitory networks of these neurons.

You will be part of (inter-)national research networks and exploit a variety of other analysis tools available. All the methodology, cell models, equipment, analysis software and viral vectors are available from the start of the project. You will be trained on site and in specialized courses on campus. During the PhD you will write several scientific publications that will be combined in a PhD thesis.

Your duties

As a PhD student your main tasks and responsibilities are

• investigating cellular and synaptic parameters that affect the balance between excitation and inhibition (E/I) in networks of human neurons from patients with neurodevelopmental disorders, using iPSC technology, genome editing, fluorescence imaging, and patch-clamp electrophysiology
• publishing analyses in the best peer-reviewed journals and provide progress reports to funding sources
• contributing to teaching activities, including supervision of BSc and /or MSc students during internships 
• presenting your work to the research community  


We are looking for a student with the following qualifications:

• a master degree in (Medical) Biology, Biophysics or Physics, or similar degree
• hands-on experience with the methods listed above
• a strong motivation to pursue a career in science
• hands-on experience with Matlab or Python is an advantage

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,541 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,539 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 fte.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a total duration of 4 years. Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

• a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
• 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
• contribution to commuting expenses   

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 31,000 students. We employ over 5,000 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
Working at the Faculty of Science means working together with students, PhD candidates and scientists who are focused on their discipline, yet also have a broad view of the world. We are proud of the collegial working environment within the faculty, which is characterised by an ambitious and pragmatic attitude with commitment to the bigger picture. At the Faculty of Science, scientists and students work on fundamental and complex social issues for a sustainable and healthy future. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to malnutrition, from genetics to pharmaceuticals and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research cover the full breadth of the natural sciences. Scientific teaching and research is highly experimental, technical, computational and interdisciplinary in nature. This is why we collaborate extensively with leading research institutes and industry. The faculty has over 11,000 students studying across 40 educational programmes and employs over 1,600 staff spread over 10 scientific departments, making us the largest science faculty in the Netherlands.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 10/12/23

Submitting a diploma is part of the application process.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Niels Cornelisse

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Job area: PhD
Educational Level: MSc
VU unit: Faculty of Science
Contract type: Temporary
Minimum FTE: 1
Minimum salary scale: €2,770 (PhD)
Maximum salary scale: €3,539 (PhD)