Open Positions for (International) PhD Students

Leuven VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology

25 Jul 2017


VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology

Gabriele Bergers Lab, Sarah-Maria Fendt Lab, Diether Lambrechts Lab, Jean-Christophe Marine Lab, Anna Sablina Lab



VIB is an entrepreneurial and vibrant non-profit research institute in Flanders-Belgium, with a clear focus on groundbreaking research in life sciences. About 1500 scientists and technologists from over 60 countries study the broad spectrum of molecular mechanisms that regulate the functions of the human body, plants and microorganisms. This research leads to innovative insights into the normal and abnormal/pathological life processes, with the potential to use these insights to develop novel therapeutics, diagnostics, applications and technologies.

VIB stands for Excellence in science in an inspiring place for research at the interface of academia and industry. VIB offers thereto a multidisciplinary, multicultural and collaborative research environment whereby open discussion and knowledge sharing are encouraged.

The VIB-KULeuven Center for Cancer Biology (CCB), located on the Campus Gasthuisberg of the University of Leuven, contributes to the better understanding of the biology that underlies cancer initiation, progression and metastatic dissemination with the ultimate goal to develop more effective and specific anti-cancer (combination) therapies. CCB is currently composed of more than 200 scientists in 12 independent research groups and units. Our scientific interest in various hallmarks of tumors and their microenvironment, including angiogenesis, inflammation, metabolism, genetic and epigenetic regulating circuits. CCB fosters an interdisciplinary environment and close cooperation with the Comprehensive Cancer Center LKI and the Hospital, both located on the same campus, to promote translational research

CCB has currently several open positions for PhD students in diverse projects in cancer biology.


Project 1:  Metabolic control of breast cancer derived metastasis formation

Promotor: Sarah-Maria Fendt - Laboratory of Laboratory of Cellular Metabolism and Metabolic Regulation

Project 2: Explore vascular and immunomodulating mechanisms to induce immune-stimulated tumor cell death in tumors and metastasis

Promotor Gabriele Bergers, PhD - Laboratory of Tumor Microenvironment and Therapeutic Resistance

Project 3:  The Ubiquitin Pathway as a new frontier in lung cancer therapy

Promotor Anna Sablina, PhD - Laboratory for Mechanisms of Cell transformation

Project 4: Single-cell RNA-sequencing in the context of space and time to interrogate tumour microenvironment (TME) impact on therapy response.

Promotor: Diether Lambrechts, PhD - Laboratory of Translational Genetics

Project 5: Intra-tumoral heterogeneity and response to therapy in melanoma

Promotor: Jean Christophe Marine, PhD - Laboratory for Molecular Cancer Biology

Admission requirements and conditions


The CCB PhD positions are open towards Belgians and non-Belgians

University degrees

Candidates must hold a 5-year University degree, or equivalent, in life sciences e.g. medicine, bio-engineering, biomedical sciences, biology, biochemistry, biotechnology, bioinformatics. In general, this implies that the applicant has a Master’s degree. Applicants, who have not yet received their degree at the time of the application deadline, can also apply, but a final certificate of the degree is needed no later than 2 months after the selection interviews. 

Medical students who wish to obtain a PhD degree can also apply after completion of their MD exams.

Passing the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a plus (and you should definitely indicate if you took the GRE), but the test is not required for your application. If you take the GRE-test specifically to apply to our call, please select the University of Leuven (KULEUVEN). We will not reply to inquiries regarding the GRE.


English is used in all CCB laboratories for scientific communication. Therefore, candidates must have an excellent command of English. A language test for English, such as the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is highly recommended. If you take the TOEFL-test specifically to apply to our call, please select the University of Leuven (KULEUVEN). We will not reply to inquiries regarding the TOEFL.

How to apply?

Apply now to kick-start your scientific career in a center of excellence, backed by first class research facilities and training in our multidisciplinary, international scientific community. CCB scientists work at the frontlines of cancer research.

Deadline for application: September 30, 2017, 11:59 pm GMT

Please follow carefully the different steps during the preparation stage and final submission stage of your application. Use English in all the documents.


Step 1 - Requirements

Read the Admission Requirements above. 

Step 2 - Download and complete the Application Form

Download the Application Form.  Complete the file according to the guidelines in the document.  Make sure all required paragraphs are completed. Save the document, titled “your-name–CCB – PhD 2017”.  

Step 3 - Submit the Application Form and scans of degrees and certificates

Have a copy ready of your:

  • Completed Application Form
  • Bachelor degree
  • Master’s degree (if already available)
  • English language certificate (if applicable)
  • GRE certificate (if applicable)
  • Transcript of marks (academic records)

If possible, compile these documents in one PDF document. Submit your application to          

Step 4 - Collect recommendation letters

Download the Evaluation Letter. Contact two scientists/supervisors who can judge your potential as a PhD-student.

They need to:

  • complete the Evaluation Form
  • write a letter of recommendation for your application
  • send both documents to

The letters of recommendation are confidential and are an essential part of your application. Please note that we will not be able to process your application without the letters of recommendation.




Selection procedure

Deadline You must submit the Application Form, completed according to the Application Guidelines, to the CCB Committee before the application deadline of September 30, 2017. Application forms received after the deadline will not be considered. After the submission All applications are reviewed by the CCB Group Leader Committee.

In October 2017, short-listed candidates will be invited for the selection week in late November 2017. We will reimburse your travel expenses (economy) and provide free accommodation in Leuven during the selection visit.

Selected candidates are expected to start with their PhD on January 1st, 2018.

Working at VIB-KULEUVEN and Living in Leuven


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VIB-KU Leuven Center for Cancer Biology –

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