PhD position: ENVIRONMENTAL CAUSES OF SARCOIDOSIS: EPIDEMIOLOGY, DETECTION, ANIMAL MODEL SETUP

09 July 2018

Get in touch!

Interested?

For more information please contact Prof. dr. Peter Hoet, tel.: +32 16 33 01 97, mail: peter.hoet@kuleuven.be or Mr. Steven Ronsmans, tel.: +32 16 32 35 75, mail: steven.ronsmans@kuleuven.be.

You can apply for this job no later than July 27, 2018 via the online application tool.

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.

Apply before 27 July 2018

We seek a junior scientist who is willing to step into a PhD-track, with good laboratory skills and a broad background and interest in biological systems,environmental exposure (silica – metals – fine particles), who will be responsible for mainly WP1 and WP4 – the work in WP2 & 3 will mainly be executed in parallel by a young clinician.

The research unit for Occupational and Environmental Toxicology (OET) in the Centre Environment and Health originated from the joint-venture of the department of Occupational and Insurance Medicine and the laboratory of Pulmonology. The research unit has built an international expertise in pulmonary toxicology, mechanisms of metal, polymer, particulate matter and nano-toxicity, oxidative stress in the lung, along with the development of a mouse model of chemical-induced asthma and the development of primary cultures of lung epithelium, effects of air pollution on cardiovascular parameters.

Project

Sarcoidosis is a systemic disease (annual incidence of1 to 35 per 100,000 adults, depending on the geographical area) of unknown cause and characterized by the development of epithelioid-cell-rich, non-necrotizing granulomas, mainly in the lung and lymph nodes.Several lines of evidence support the idea that sarcoidosis results from exposure of genetically susceptible hosts to one orseveral antigen(s), which leads to activation of macrophages and T-cell immunity against these antigens and to the formation of granulomas

The scientific goals will consist of:

1.     Optimization of the Lymphocyte Proliferation Test (LPT), an existing laboratory test in which the existence of an individual’s specific response to an exogenous agent is evaluated by measuring the ex vivo proliferation of blood lymphocytes upon incubation with the test agent.The main novelty of this project is that we will test insoluble nanoparticles of silica or metal oxides.

2.    Verify the added clinical value of the optimized LPT for the etiological diagnosis of sarcoidosis

3.     Verify the value of the optimized LPT as an early biomarker of effects of silica and other metallic agents in populations of workers exposed to the relevant agents

4.    Develop a mouse model for sarcoidosis and clarify role of Innate Lymphoid Cells in sarcoidosis and the LPT. 

In this project we intend to carry out four workpackages (WP):

In a first phase (WP1), we will optimize the LPT for testing nanosilica and other relevant metals (including insoluble metal oxides in nanometer dimensions).

In a second phase (WP2) we will apply the optimized LPT in large groups of patients with sarcoidosis (as well as appropriate controls) in order to demonstrate the improved etiologic diagnosis in such patients. We will also set up a prospective follow-up of sarcoidosis patients.

In a third phase (WP3) we will go to the field and apply the optimized LPT in groups of workers with relevant exposures to silica and/or metallic agents.

In a fourth phase (WP4) we will develop a mouse model to understand the pathogenesis of sarcoidosis and the etiological role of nanoparticles of silica and certain metallic agents.

Profile

We seek a junior scientist who is willing to step into a PhD-track, with good laboratory skills and a broad background and interest in biological systems,environmental exposure (silica – metals – fine particles), who will be responsible for mainly WP1 and WP4 – the work in WP2 & 3 will mainly be executed in parallel by a young clinician. It is also important to mention that both junior scientist will work together in close coordination.

The candidate shouldhave a Master degree (with distinction) in Bio-engineering, (Bio)medicalsciences, Biology, Pharmaceutical sciences

Offer

The position will be offered for 1 year and after positive evaluation to be prolonged to 4 y in total.
The candidate will be able to run his/her research next to the commitments of the doctoral school.