PhD candidate for the project “Targeting immunosenescence in atherosclerosis”


The Division of BioTherapeutics at the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR) is looking for a:

PhD candidate for the project “Targeting immunosenescence in atherosclerosis”

Project description       
Atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide. An acute cardiovascular event, such as a myocardial infarction or stroke, is often triggered by rupture of an atherosclerotic lesion at advanced age. As we age, our immune system undergoes a gradual functional decline, also called immunosenescence, strongly affecting our adaptive immunity. Both T- and B cells are crucially involved in the pathophysiology of atherosclerosis, but it is unknown how immunosenescence affects their contribution to disease progression. This project aims to generate a comprehensive atlas of age-associated adaptive immunity in atherosclerosis, identifying druggable targets to promote healthy cardiovascular aging. The PhD student will join our enthusiastic team studying the different immune aspects of atherosclerotic lesion development to discover new therapeutic targets and strategies for the treatment of atherosclerosis.

Key responsibilities      
The aim of your PhD project is to provide fundamental knowledge regarding the contribution of aged adaptive immunity to cardiovascular disease. You will search for new targets to dampen pro-atherogenic T- and B cell immunity to extend health span and inhibit progression of atherosclerosis. The project will involve in vitro and in vivo experiments in which you will modulate T- and B cells and identify novel druggable targets to inhibit atherosclerosis. You will perform flow cytometry and transcriptomics (single cell RNA-sequencing, TCR/BCR sequencing) to characterize aged adaptive immunity in both experimental mouse models and samples obtained from cardiovascular disease patients.

Selection criteria
We are looking for an enthusiastic, bright, well-motivated, and ambitious scientist:

  • With a recent Master degree in Biopharmaceutical Sciences, Biomedical Sciences, Biology, Medical Biology, or equivalent
  • With a strong interest in and experienced with immunological research
  • With experience with in vivo studies (artikel 9, proefdierkunde), flow cytometry, single cell technology (working in R), microscopical techniques and molecular biology is an advantage
  • With proficiency in English, both verbally and in writing
  • Who is an independent and creative team player with good communicative skills

Terms and conditions  
We offer a full-time appointment of initially one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the research, teaching evaluations, personal capabilities and compatibility, the appointment will be extended for another three years. You will be appointed in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. The salary ranges from € 2.541,- to € 3.247,-  gross per month depending on experience (pay scale P)

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses (8.3 %), training and career development. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. For more information, see the website.

All our PhD students are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Science. Our graduate school offers several PhD training courses at three levels: professional courses, skills training and personal effectiveness. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the research school.

Diversity and work-life balance              
Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.

LACDR is a highly diverse institute, in culture, background, and gender. We stand for excellence in a caring Institute. We wish to reflect society in all aspects, as we believe that this improves the dynamics in our organization. Therefore, we support and understand the need for a work/life/family balance and consequent varying working hours and places. We believe that doing good science is fun, and goes hand in hand with a friendly culture. 

Our organization           
The Faculty of Science at Leiden University is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are committed to expand fundamental knowledge by curiosity and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future.

The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organized in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelors’ and twelve master’s programmes. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2,300 staff and over 5,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.

The division of BioTherapeutics is part of the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR). Our institute is a centre of excellence for multidisciplinary research on drug discovery and development. Leiden University consistently ranks within the top-20 world-wide within the subject-based QS Ranking in Pharmacology and Pharmacy. At LACDR, we develop innovative scientific concepts in fundamental and translational research underlying the discovery and optimization of drugs, and personalised medicines. We aim to optimise the route to novel drugs that are both efficacious and safe, and therefore our research focuses on drug discovery and safety, bio-therapeutics, and systems biomedicine and pharmacology. State-of-the-art expertise and infrastructures ensure that we are strategically positioned in (inter)national collaborations, thus further strengthening the development of novel concepts and their application in a clinical and industry environment. More information about LACDR you find on the website.

The division of BioTherapeutics operates at the forefront of research in the field of therapeutic modulation of cardiovascular disease. The research aims to identify new immune targets in atherosclerosis and to develop innovative biopharmaceutical concepts to intervene in cardiovascular disease. The use of specific gene-knockout technology, biologics such as vaccines, therapeutic proteins and cellular therapy, provides a unique approach for the development of new therapies for the treatment or prevention of atherosclerosis. For more information, see

Leiden University is one of Europe’s leading international research universities.

Thanks to its committed and inspired employees, the university enjoys a leading role in academic research and education. Leiden also scores very well every year in prominent rankings. This means that, to maintain our position, the bar is set very high. Regardless of the work you do at our university, you are always encouraged to broaden your horizons, develop your talents and reach your full potential. Will you become our newest colleague?

For more information, please contact Dr. Amanda Foks, email:

You can find more information about the faculty of Science at

For more information about working at Leiden university please visit

To apply for this vacancy, please send an email to quoting the vacancy number and including the following documents:

  • Motivation letter;
  • An updated CV;
  • Copy of master’s thesis or any other publication (if available);
  • The transcripts of your MSc studies and copy of your degree;
  • Written letters of recommendation by at least two former supervisors.

Only applications received before August 15th 2022 can be considered.

Acquisition following this advertisement is not appreciated

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