Making cells feel at home: matrix and culture medium optimization for organoids

28 September 2020

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To apply for this position, please follow the application tool and enclose (1) full CV – mandatory, (2) motivation letter – mandatory, (3) full list of credits and grades of both BSc and MSc degrees (as well as their transcription to English if possible) – mandatory (when you haven’t finished your degree yet, just provide us with the partial list of already available credits and grades), (4) reference letters - if available.

Informal enquiries can be submitted to Prof. Hugo Vankelecom ( or Prof. Susana Rocha (

You can apply for this job no later than November 27, 2020 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

Ref. BAP-2020-771

Apply before 27 November 2020

In the context of the interdisciplinary Research Network OrganADVANCE, we a looking for a PhD student to work in the groups of Prof. Hugo Vankelecom and Prof. Susana Rocha.

Prof. Hugo Vankelecom is an expert in stem cell biology in both basic and translational research domains. His group has increasingly gained expertise in establishing (stem cell-derived) organoid models from several healthy and diseased tissues, and became one of the top and most visible research groups in this booming field at the KU Leuven.

The research interests of Prof. Susana Rocha include the development of drug delivery systems, studying cell-matrix interactions and the influence of mechanical stimuli in cellular behaviour, as well as fluorescence microscopy and spectroscopy, in particular super-resolution techniques. More information on the OrganADVANCE project can be found on the website.

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Organoid cultures have revolutionized biomedical sciences, enabling scientists to establish 3D disease models while preserving the genetic background and pathology of patients. Yet, the full potential of organoids depends on critical innovations, such as advanced assays to decipher and monitor biological processes, imaging tools, delivery of nucleic acids and drugs to organoids and ultimately up-scaling the throughput of such assays. In order to reach such ambitious goals, integrating the expertise of disease and organoid specialists with the expert know-how of technology developers is a must. At KU Leuven, an interdisciplinary team of internationally recognized experts in these fields will act to address these challenges together, this in the framework of an interdisciplinary network OrganADVANCE. Within the collaborative effort we are seeking a PhD candidate to define the optimized organoid culture conditions for each tissue, by scrutinizing medium and matrix composition. Both top-down and bottom-up approach will be applied in continuous and dynamic interaction with the tested matrix composition.


We are seeking highly motivated candidates that hold a master’s degree in chemistry, biochemistry, biology or related subjects. Experience with (3D) cell culture, biochemistry assays or chemical conjugation techniques is a plus. The candidate should be open to interdisciplinary science and collaborations. KU Leuven offers in this respect an ideal environment with a large number of science groups working on different subjects.


- We offer a PhD fellowship in Chemistry/Biomedical Sciences on the recently approved Interdisciplinary Research project OrganADVANCE.
- The fellowship is for 1 year but can be extended after a positive evaluation. Application for a PhD fellowship from FWO in March 2021 is requested.
- Possibility to work in a multidisciplinary environment in close collaboration with the groups of prof. Zeger Debyser, Dr. Marianne Carlon, Prof. Frederik De Smet and Prof. Peter Dedecker.
- A remuneration package competitive with industry standards in Belgium, a country with a high quality of life and excellent health care system.
- Ample occasions to develop yourself in a scientific and/or an industrial direction. Besides opportunities offered by the research group, further doctoral training for PhD candidates is provided in the framework of the KU Leuven Arenberg Doctoral School ( and by the Doctoral School of Biomedical Sciences (
- A stay in a vibrant environment in the hearth of Europe. The university is one of Europe’s oldest academic institutions and is situated in a medium-sized vibrant student town with a large international community.