31 July 2019

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Fore more information, please contact Guy Boeckxstaens (e-mail:

You can apply for this job no later than November 01, 2019 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

Apply before 01 November 2019

TARGID aims to provide insight in physiological and pathophysiological mechanisms in order to identify new targets ultimately leading to better therapies for gastrointestinal disorders such as functional and inflammatory bowel diseases. To this end, pre-clinical and clinical expertise is combined with state of the art technology to provide top quality research and to create a stimulating setting for bidirectional interaction between basic and clinical researchers. This approach allows fast translation of discoveries from bench to bedside with improvement of patient care as ultimate goal.

TARGID is an internationally recognized research center that also aspires to provide multidisciplinary education in a challenging and exciting scientific environment. In this context, the center participates in the educational PhD program of the Doctoral school of Biomedical Sciences (Mechanisms of Human Disease) of the Catholic University of Leuven and organizes invited lectures and seminars on a regular basis. TARGID is part of diverse national and international networks allowing exchange of expertise further contributing to excellent education of young and talented researchers.

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Our research group focuses on the neuro-immune interaction between the enteric nervous system and resident macrophages in the context of neurodegeneration in the intestine. We recently discovered a unique resident macrophage population residing in close proximity to enteric neurons with properties of microglia, i.e. they are long-lived, are of embryonic origin and have neuro-protective properties (De Schepper et al., Cell 2018). Depletion of these macrophages leads to loss of enteric neurons in the myenteric and submucous plexus with impaired secretion, dysmorphic submucosal vasculature and impaired intestinal motility. In the present project, supported by an ERC Advanced grant (starting in September or October 2019), these macrophages will be further characterised and their role will be studied in several disease models of enteric neuro-degeneration and tissue collected from patients, with the ultimate goal to identify novel therapeutic targets and biomarkers.


This position is open for highly motivated and excellent candidates graduated in Biomedical sciences, Pharmaceutical sciences, Bioengineering, Biochemistry, Biology, Biotechnology or equivalent degrees. The candidate should be graduated with at least distinction and has a strong interest in gastroenterology and/or immunology. He or she should be able to work both independently as well as in an international team.


We offer, starting from October 2019, a 4 year PhD research fellowship in a challenging and well equipped research environment with excellent facilities in one of the largest biomedical institutions in Belgium. We encourage the candidate to apply for an FWO scholarship (see