Netherlands: PhD student/Postdoc in Blood Cell Research at Sanquin

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The vacancy is for a PhD student (4 y) or post-doc (3 y) in the research group of dr Timo K. van den Berg and prof. dr. Taco W. Kuijpers, entitled: “Neutrophil cytotoxic granules in microbial infection and cancer”. Neutrophilic granulocytes play a critical role in the host defense against bacterial and fungal infections. The elimination of microorganisms by neutrophils commonly involves recognition and uptake by phagocytosis followed by killing. The two major mechanism that are believed to contribute to microbial killing are formed by the NADPH oxidase, which mediates the production of toxic reactive oxygen species, and a variety of cytotoxic components, including proteolytic enzymes, that are released from intracellular granules. Whereas evidence for an anti-microbial role for certain individual neutrophil cytotoxic granule components in vivo has been obtained by gene-targeting studies in mice, the overall contribution of neutrophil cytotoxic granule release to host defense has not been determined.

Our studies on neutrophils from patients with Familial Hemophagocytic Lymphohistiocytosis type 5 syndrome (FHL-5), which carry mutations in the gene encoding the munc18-2 protein, indicate that munc18-2 is required for the fusion of neutrophil cytotoxic granules to the plasma membrane (Zhao et al. (2013) 122:109). This is associated with a defect in the killing of certain bacteria and fungi. In addition, cytotoxic granules may be important for antibody-dependent cellular cytotoxicity (ADCC) of neutrophils towards tumor cells (Zhao et al. (2011) PNAS 108(45):18342). In the current project we will investigate the in vivo relevance of neutrophil cytotoxic granule release in host defense against microbial infection and antibody therapy against cancer using conditional munc18-2-deficient mice. The work will be performed in close collaboration with the research groups of prof. dr. Matthijs Verhage (VU, Amsterdam) and dr. Michael J. Tuvim (University of Texas, USA).


We are looking for a highly motivated candidate who holds an MSc or PhD in Biomedical Sciences. The candidate must have strong intellectual and communication skills, in addition to experience in cell biology and animal experimentation (art. 9 certificate).

Conditions of employment

  • salary and conditions are conform CAO Sanquin;
  • a 36-hour-week;
  • reimbursement of travel expenses;
  • a temporary appointment for a period of 4 years (PhD) or 3 years (Postdoc);
  • working hours are fixed by mutual agreement;
  • 8,33% year-end;
  • by full-time employment 201 vacation hours.

Contract type: Temporary, 3 – 4 years.



Sanquin performs basic, applied, and clinically oriented research in the field of blood and blood transfusion. Our research is focussed on haematology, blood coagulation, immunology, cellular therapies and donor studies. Sanquin offers an international, competitive, multidisciplinary research environment with state-of-the-art facilities.

With over 200 colleagues, our focus is on both fundamental and applied research. We are interested in meeting ambitious researchers with training in life sciences, cell biology, biochemistry, or health sciences.

Sanquin Blood Supply Foundation is responsible for the blood supply in the Netherlands, and is affiliated to the University of Amsterdam and other universities in the Netherlands.


Blood Cell Research

You will work in a multidisciplinary international team that focuses on the biology of phagocytes in health and disease. This team is embedded in the Department of Blood Cell Research, where 35-40 colleagues (post-docs, PhD students and technicians) are studying various aspects of different blood cell types in the context of disease. We have a particular interest in primary immunodeficiencies and also perform diagnostics in this area. The research program benefits from the state-of-the-art research facilities at Sanquin, which include facilities for sequencing, molecular cell biology, proteomics and in vivo biomedical studies.

Additional information

For further information you can contact dr T.K. van den Berg on phone number:
+31(0)20-512 3317 or via email: (not for application).

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