Postdoctoral position on engineering microbial cell factories

Leuven VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology

18 Jul 2024


VIB-KU Leuven Center for Microbiology

Joleen Masschelein Lab



Postdoctoral position on engineering microbial cell factories for the industrial production of high-value natural products

Job description

Are you interested in engineering microbial cell factories for the high-yield production of industrially important natural products? Join our multidisciplinary and international team to perform innovative research aimed at harnessing the biosynthetic power of actinomycetes.

We are looking for a motivated postdoctoral scientist to work on a collaborative project with a leading Active Pharmaceutical Ingredients (APIs) manufacturing company. Our goal is to engineer two actinomycete strains as microbial cell factories to produce an antimicrobial and an agrochemical compound at industrial scale. You will leverage state-of-the-art synthetic biology tools and use advanced, high-throughput metabolic and biosynthetic engineering approaches to efficiently enhance the production levels of these high-value compounds.

You will be based in Leuven,  but will also collaborate with our industrial partner via regular online meetings. In this way, your work will have a direct industrial impact, contributing to the development of optimized microbial strains for industrial applications and the synthesis of compounds via precision fermentation.

Who we are

The lab of Joleen Masschelein at the VIB-KU Leuven Center of Microbiology is home to a multidisciplinary team of approximately 20 researchers, dedicated to studying and engineering micro-organisms and their secondary metabolites for therapeutic and agrochemical applications. Research in the Masschelein lab spans the exciting interface between chemistry & biology and centers around discovering new bioactive natural products from bacteria, elucidating unusual pathways for natural product biosynthesis, unravelling the ecological role and mode of action of natural products, and engineering microbial cell factories for therapeutic and industrial applications. To accomplish this, we combine microbiology, molecular genetics, genomics, enzymology, bioinformatics, structural biology, analytical chemistry and chemical synthesis. For more information on our lab and publications, please visit

Our lab hosts state-of-the-art synthetic biology and analytical chemistry facilities for high-throughput (i) biosynthesis, detection, isolation and structural characterization of microbial metabolites; (ii) protein purification and in vitro biochemical assays; and (iii) the growth and genetic manipulation of aerobic and anaerobic micro-organisms.

The lab is part of the  VIB Life Sciences Institute and is located at KU Leuven, one of the oldest and most prominent universities in Europe, consistently ranked within the top 50 universities Worldwide. The lab is situated in the beautiful park of the 15th-century Arenberg castle in Heverlee, near the city center of Leuven. Leuven is located 10 miles from Brussels, with frequent direct train connections to Brussels airport. It is a picturesque, historic university city with a young and vibrant atmosphere and a strong international allure.



  • A PhD in molecular biology, biotechnology, genetics, (micro)biology, bio-engineering, biochemistry, or a related field
  • Demonstrated expertise in genetic engineering, molecular biology and fermentation of actinomycetes
  • Hands-on experience with CRISPR/Cas genome editing and bioinformatics is a strong plus
  • Excellent communication skills in both spoken and written English

Key personal characteristics

  • A proactive and collaborative mindset, with a commitment to high-quality research
  • Strong critical thinking and problem-solving skills
  • The ability to multi-task effectively and meet deadlines
  • A commitment to fostering an inclusive environment where everyone feels respected 

We offer

  • A 1-year, fully-funded, full-time postdoctoral position in a stimulating international and multidisciplinary research environment
  • The ability to work on an industrially-relevant, high-impact research topic
  • Access to state-of-the-art tools and research infrastructure
  • A supportive environment with training opportunities in academic, technical and career skills.
  • Starting date: as soon as possible

How to apply? 

 Interested candidates should apply via the online application procedure. Your application should include:

  • A cover letter stating your motivation for the position, your research experiences and your career goals
  • A detailed CV including a list of your scientific publications
  • Contact details of 2-3 references

Applications will be reviewed immediately. A shortlist of applicants will be selected and invited for interviews. The position will remain open until a suitable candidate is found.

For further information and questions, please send an email to Joleen Masschelein ([email protected]).

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.