Doctoral Researcher - Microbiology: Belgium

Doctoral Researcher (f/m) (FunHoMic) in the field of Microbiology / Infection Biology / Cellular Microbiology.

The project will be associated to the European Innovative Training Network (ITN) “Deciphering the fungus-host-microbiota interplay to improve the management of fungal infections – FunHoMic” within the Horizon2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions.

ProDigest is a product leader in the development of unique laboratory models of the human and animal gastrointestinal tract (Simulator of the Human Intestinal Microbial Ecosystem – SHIME®). Complementary to in vivo studies, these models allow to obtain unique insight in gut processes associated to the intestinal fate, metabolism and bioavailability of actives and to study the complete gut microbiota under controlled conditions and its link with human and animal health. ProDigest is globally active as a service provider for food and pharmaceutical companies and since 2014 also installs its technology in selected R&D facilities around the world.

Project background

Fungal infections have a major impact on human health, infecting about 2 billion people and killing more people each year than malaria or breast cancer. In particular, Candida species impose a high clinical and economic burden upon the European population. The initiation and severity of a Candida infection depends on an intricate interplay between the infecting fungal strain and the individual’s immune status and microbiota, all of which can display significant variability.

For the first time, FunHoMic integrates experts in fungal pathogenesis, immunology, microbial ecology and ‘omics technologies to train 13 Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) who will define and exploit this Fungal-Host-Microbiota interplay to identify novel biomarkers (fungal or host genetic polymorphisms, microbiota profiles, metabolites or immune markers) for the stratification of a patient’s risk of serious fungal infection. This will pave the way for precision medicine in patient management through preventive or therapeutic interventions using antifungals, immune modulators or Live Biotherapeutic Products (LBPs).

In this project, the successful applicant will use our sophisticated in vitro technology platform to investigate important aspects of C. albicans’ interaction networks during commensalism and pathogenesis, focussing on the influence of human microbiota on Candida’s ecology.

Eligibility criteria

All applicants must be early-stage researchers of any nationality in the first four years of their research career. They are required to undertake transnational mobility and, in the 3 years immediately prior to recruitment, must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in Belgium for more than 12 months. The appointed researcher must not have spent more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to their recruitment in the same appointing organisation.

Candidate’s profile

We expect a Master´s degree (or equivalent) in Life Sciences (e.g. Biology, Biochemistry, or Microbiology). Furthermore, the applicant should be able to perform team-oriented as well as independent work. Practical experiences in one or more of the following subjects are beneficial: Microbiology, Molecular Biology, Infection Biology, Cell Biology. Practical experience in in vitro simulation of the gut is an advantage.

We offer

The successful candidate will be hosted at ProDigest and will receive a PhD degree, granted by the University of Ghent (Belgium). We offer a multifaceted scientific project with excellent technical facilities, a place in a young, committed team, as well as strong scientific collaborations. Furthermore, the successful candidates will take part in the extensive ITN training programmes. The length of individual appointments for an ESR will be at least 36 months. Salary is paid according to the regulations of the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions. ProDigest is an equal opportunity employer.

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