Leuven VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology

30 Jul 2020


VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology




Innovative Training Network "STRATEGY-CKD" (H2020-MSCA-ITN-860329) 

RESEARCH FIELD: Biomedical/Life Sciences 

General objectives of the STRATEGY-CKD project

System omics to unravel the gut-kidney axis in Chronic Kidney Disease:

There is a great need for multi-disciplinary and methodologically well trained scientists in order to unravel complex diseases. Chronic kidney disease (CKD), which is more prevalent in women, and its high risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD) with nearly 50% of all deaths in CKD patients caused by CVD, is such a complex disease and its socio-economic burden is extremely high. 

STRATEGY-CKD will in this context focus on the gut-kidney axis and the role of the intestinal microbiome as important contributor to the genesis and evolution of CVD in CKD and as possible therapeutic target to improve outcome of CKD patients. 

For this purpose, 10 leading multidisciplinary academic and 2 industrial investigators and their teams will train young researchers in 

(1) excellent scientific skills, integrating technological skills [in vitro, bacterial and animals molecular and functional studies, state-of-the-art omic (cultur-, microbi, peptid-, prote-, metabolomics) approaches, bioinformatics, systems biology] in clinical/mechanistic knowledge to generate innovative insights triggering the pathogenesis and treatment of CKD related CVD; 

(2) Excellent complementary skills in personal and career development as well as business training required to extend beyond scientific research; and 

(3) exposure to both academic and non-academic environments, required to build bridges between researchers and entrepreneurs and support the future translation of research findings in innovative therapies and services. STRATEGY-CKD builds on already available advanced technology, models and patient samples, and established collaborations. STRATEGY-CKD links to ongoing European programs among partners of the consortium. STRATEGY-CKD will stimulate the development of young, broadly-trained scientists able to successfully link basic to clinical research in academia as well as in industry unravelling complex diseases such as CVD-CKD.

For more information: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/id/860329

Specific Information for the position

Association between uraemic toxins and the intestinal microbiome through bioinformatics and in vitro systems biology approaches

The ESR will have the unique opportunity to be trained in both dry lab (bioinformatics) and wet lab (microbiological culturing and fermentation) approaches to identify possible associations between specific bacterial members of intestinal microbiota in CKD patients and circulating (uraemic) metabolites (toxins). From the bioinformatics perspective, the impact of body fluid composition on microbiota will be studied in both data-driven and hypothesis-driven approaches. This will be coupled to validation of predicted associations and relationships using in vitro culture-based experiments. For this purpose, the ESR will be trained in (i) targeted isolation and anaerobic culturing of toxin-producing bacterial species from CKD fecal samples and (ii) co-culturing and metabolomic profiling of bacterial toxin-producers with their predicted positive/negative interacting species in a state-of-the-art parallelized microscale fermentation system.

The outcome of this integrated bioinformatics and in vitro approach will yield a more profound understanding of the gut-kidney axis and identify possible routes for the testing and development of microbiome-based modulation strategies in CKD.

Several secondments to other partner institutes are planned.

Additional Information

According to the EU rules for the ITN projects, the recruited researchers must comply with the following conditions:

  • are — at the date of recruitment — early-stage researchers (i.e. NOT have a doctoral degree AND be in the first 4 years (full-time equivalent research experience) of their research career)

  • are recruited under an employment contract/equivalent direct contract (i.e. other contract with equivalent benefits and social security coverage), including: sickness, parental, unemployment and invalidity benefits - pension rights and - benefits for accidents at work and occupational diseases.

If national law prevents them from recruiting researchers under an employment contract/equivalent direct contract, beneficiaries may — exceptionally and subject to the Agency’s prior agreement — offer a fixed-amount fellowship with minimum social security coverage, including: sickness, parental and invalidity benefits and  benefits for accidents at work and occupational diseases.

In this case, the living allowance will be reduced by 50%.

  • be employed for at least 3 months and up to 36 months.

  • be employed full-time, unless the Agency has approved a part-time employment for personal or family reasons

  • work exclusively on the research training activities

  • must comply with the following mobility rule: not have resided in the country of the recruiting beneficiary for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date (and not have carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in that country) — unless as part of a procedure for obtaining refugee status under the Geneva Convention. For beneficiaries that are international European interest organisations or international organisations: not have spent with the beneficiary more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date.


  • You hold a Master’s degree in biomedical, bioengineering or life sciences or related area and thrive in a multidisciplinary research environment.
  • You have a strong background in microbiology.
  • You are ambitious, well organised and have excellent communication skills.
  • You are verbally and written fluent in English and have the ability to work effectively and collaboratively. 
  • You are an enthusiastic, self-motivated individual, who is willing to take part in personal skills training, international travel and public outreach activities.
  • You have demonstrated commitment to high-quality research.

We offer

Type of contract: 24 months plus 12 months.
Offer starting date: between 01/06/2020 and 31/12/2020

How to apply?

Motivated candidates are asked to apply online. Application deadline is 31/05/2020.