PhD position in the field of neuroimmunology, mouse modelling and induced pluripotent stem cells

Hasselt VIB-UHasselt Center for Inflammation Research

02 Feb 2024

Hasselt, Antwerp

VIB-UHasselt Center for Inflammation Research

Markus Kleinewietfeld Lab



14 Feb 2024

In the framework of the interuniversity research project HOUDINI we are seeking a PhD student eager to contribute to the development and characterization of a humanized mouse model for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease.

This project is a large inter-university research collaboration between the KULeuven, UHasselt and UAntwerp, Belgium. Under participation of the VIB Laboratory for neurobiology of Prof. Ludo Van Den Bosch at VIB-KU Leuven, the Peripheral Neuropathy research group of Prof. Vincent Timmerman, the FIERCE Lab (Functional imaging & stem cells) of Prof. Esther Wolfs at BIOMED, UHasselt and the Laboratory of Translational Immunomodulation, BIOMED, UHasselt of Prof. Markus Kleinewietfeld.

The joined PhD will be integrated in two research teams, the Laboratory of Translational Immunomodulation, BIOMED institute of Prof. Markus Kleinewietfeld and the Peripheral Neuropathy research group of Prof. Vincent Timmerman.

About the HOUDINI project

Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1 (CMT1) is a demyelinating peripheral neuropathy characterized by slowly progressing muscle weakness and the development of sensory problems. CMT1 is a genetic disease caused by mutations or copy number variations in several genes in Schwann cells, responsible for myelination. There is no cure for CMT because of an insufficient understanding of the pathogenesis. In this project, we start from stem cells and develop a humanized mouse model for CMT1. The model will recapitulate the disease, including the impact of inflammatory responses. We inject stem cell-derived Schwann cells in the presence of a humanized immune system. We will also get better insights into the disease mechanism by using Schwann cells containing CMT1-causing genetic alterations. The humanized mouse model offers a novel and unique opportunity to validate candidate therapies for dominant and recessive forms of CMT1 and will contribute to a better understanding of CMT.


  • You must hold an Academic Master recognized by the EU in one of the following disciplines: immunology, biochemistry, biology, bioengineering, biomedical or pharmaceutical sciences.
  • Outstanding academic study performances according to ECST grading scale.
  • FELASA C degree (or EU equivalent) for handling small model organisms.
  • Strong interest in basic research, molecular mechanisms of neuroscience and immunology.
  • You act with attention to quality, integrity, creativity and cooperation.
  • You are willing to perform a joined PhD at two universities (UHasselt and UAntwerp).
  • You can speak and write fluently in English.
  • You have a driving license.

What we offer

  • A challenging project in two different research groups (UHasselt and UAntwerp).
  • The research will be performed at the molecular, cellular and organismal level.
  • We make use of rapidly advancing technologies in cell biology, induced pluripotent stem cell and organoid development, mouse modelling and neuroimmunology.
  • We offer training, participation in congresses and international collaboration.
  • Access to state-of-the-art infrastructure and core facilities in a vibrant, excellent research environment operating at an interuniversity level.
  • Dedicated training programs available through UHasselt and UAntwerp to broaden your expertise and enhance your skill set.
  • You will do most of your work at UHasselt (Campus Diepenbeek) and UAntwerp (Campus Drie Eiken) in a dynamic and stimulating working environment for high-level neuroscience research.
  • Comprehensive support from the international offices of the UAntwerp and UHasselt.

Want to apply?

  • Motivated candidates are asked to apply online.
  • Additional required information:
    • detailed CV
    • motivation letter 
    • name and contact information of a reference person (preferentially from a former supervisor during your master's studies)
  • The selection committee will review all of the applications as soon as possible after the application deadline. As soon as a decision is made, we will inform you about the next steps in the selection procedure, including interviews.

VIB values diversity - in backgrounds and in experiences. The institute needs people from all backgrounds and ways of life to help build a thriving scientific environment. VIB is therefore looking for candidates who are not only strong in their own aptitudes but care deeply about supporting each other's growth. VIB's collaborators are people with different strengths, experiences and backgrounds, who share a passion for science that generates impact in science and in society. Diversity not only includes race and gender identity, but also nationality, age, disability status, sexual orientation, religion and many other parts of one’s identity. All of VIB’s employees’ points of view are key to its success, and inclusion is everyone's responsibility.