Early Stage Researcher (PhD Student) position on “Target and untargeted cell-based metabolomics and lipidomics to identify molecular mechanisms and pathways involved in toxicity of PFAS”

Research / Academic
The PhD student position is at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam’s (VUA) Department of Environment and Health, and within the framework of the Marie Skłodowska -Curie Innovative Training Network (MSCA-ITN) project “Per- and polyfluorinated alkyl substances towards the future of research and its communication in Europe (PERFORCE3)”.


The PhD student will focus on the development of cell- and organ-on-chip-based metabolomics and lipidomics approaches using human adrenal cortex, and liver cells. The aims are to 1) clarify the molecular mechanisms involved in the toxicity of alternative PFASs with a focus on steroidogenesis, cholesterol synthesis and metabolism, and lipid transport, 2) link the metabolomic pathways with human cohort gene expression and metabolomics data, and 3) support AOP- and biomarker-development.


The PhD student will be employed and enrolled in the doctoral programme at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, The Netherlands. International collaboration is foreseen with BfR in Germany (2-month secondment – on hepatocyte metabolomics studies), and The Arctic University of Norway (1-month secondment – to integrate cell based metabolomics data with human metabolomics data). Come join our team and make a meaningful impact on healthy living.


The ITN PERFORCE3 is a European-wide multi-partner doctoral training programme in the field of PFASs contaminants. PFASs comprise more than 4’700 substances and are of high global concern due to poorly defined risks to the environment and human health. PERFORCE3 will greatly improve the understanding of these globally pervasive contaminants, find solutions for PFAS contamination problems and improve environmental and human health risk assessment frameworks and policies.

The ITN PERFORCE3 brings together world leaders in a range of disciplines (physical, synthetic, environmental and analytical chemistry, pharmacokinetics, epidemiology, toxicology, remediation science and chemical policy) with state-of-the-art technologies, providing high quality doctoral training and research environments. The training includes independent research work in individual yet interlinked research projects and a well-structured training programme including technical and professional transferable skills courses, as well as lab visits and secondments. Participation in PERFORCE3 will equip young scientists with research and transferable skills and competences, while fostering creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship and boosting their career perspectives through international, interdisciplinary and inter-sectoral mobility opportunities.For further information on PERFORCE3, please visit:

Your duties
  • Develop and execute cell- and organ-on-chip based metabolomics and lipidomics studies with various PFASs using cell cultures and mass spectrometry (LC-QTOFMS, GC-QTOFMS, LC-MS/MS, and GC-MS)
  • Implement metabolomics pathway analyses, and study the effects of PFAS in an AOP approach


  • We are looking for a candidate with a MSc degree in (bio)analytical chemistry, molecular toxicology or pharmacology, and/or biochemistry
  • Knowledge of and experience with metabolomics, lipidomics, mass spectrometry, and cell culturing is recommended
  • Candidates should furthermore have the ability to work independently and in collaboration with others, and have strong oral and written communication skills in English
SCA eligibility criteria
1) At the date of recruitment the applicants for the MSCA fellowship must have no PhD and less than 4 years of full-time equivalent research experience from the award of the degree that entitles them to undertake a doctorate (either in the country in which the degree was obtained or in the country in which the applicant is to be recruited).
2)  The applicants must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the Netherlands for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately before the recruitment date. Short stays, such as holidays, are not taken into account.
These eligibility requirements are non-negotiable and ineligible applicants will not be considered.
Eligible applicants can be of any nationality.

Salary Benefits:

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts € 2,325 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to € 2,972 (PhD) per month during the last year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for another 2 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package

Work Hours:

40 hours per week


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