PhD Candidate: Endocrine-disrupting Compounds on Fish Skeletal Development

Research / Academic

Do you want to help understand the impact of endocrine disruptors in the environment? Are you fascinated by the principles and complexities of early development? And do you have an affinity for zebrafish as experimental model? If so, then this PhD project might be for you. You will investigate the effects of endocrine-disrupting compounds on fish health and in particular how these substances affect skeletal development.

Most environmental contaminants end up in aquatic systems, where they form a major risk for aquatic organisms. Endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs), compounds that either mimic or antagonise the action of endogenous hormones, pose an environmental threat as they interfere with animal health and physiology. Fish in particular are vulnerable due to their immersed aquatic habitats. EDCs form a pervasive, global problem and their established health risks include reproductive, metabolic and neurological disorders, resulting in a general decrease in fitness. Moreover, EDCs interfere with the functioning of bone cells, leading to abnormalities in skeletal development. Particularly during critical periods of development, EDC exposure has been linked to altered bone density, reduced bone growth and abnormal bone morphology. The potential long-term effects of EDC exposure on fish bone health are concerning, as skeletal malformations persist into adulthood and will affect growth, swimming performance, predator avoidance, and food intake - and thus compromise fitness and survival and, ultimately, population stability. Despite our knowledge of the crucial role that hormones play in skeletal development and maintenance, the impact of, for example, early life exposure to EDCs on adult bone health is not well understood. Moreover, EDCs can act transgenerationally in offspring that were not exposed to the EDCs their parents were exposed to.

This project will focus on the effects of EDCs on fish health. You will design and perform experimental research to assess the specific effects of different types of endocrine-disrupting compounds on skeletal development in fish. The results of your experiments will contribute to unravelling the molecular and cellular mechanisms that underlie the effects of endocrine-disrupting compounds on skeletal development in fish. Using the results obtained, you will make an assessment of the extent to which, under realistic environmental EDC concentrations, exposure in early life or later in life will impact the sustainability of real fish populations. If circumstances permit, you may be invited to work as a teaching assistant in one of the courses coordinated by our group. Your teaching load may be up to 10% of your working time.


  • You are an enthusiastic and highly motivated candidate with a demonstrable strong interest in organismal physiology, developmental biology and/or comparative endocrinology.
  • You are curious, proactive and detail-oriented, and have the ability to take ownership of the project.
  • You should hold, or be about to complete, an MSc degree (or equivalent) in biology, medical biology, molecular life sciences, or a related field.
  • You hold a FELASA B certificate (laboratory animal science) or will obtain such a certificate within the first year of the project.
  • You have affinity with designing and conducting experimental, empirical research.
  • Experience with molecular, analytical and/or modern imaging techniques is a plus.

Salary Benefits:

  • It concerns an employment for 1.0 FTE.
  • The gross starting salary amounts to €2,770 per month based on a 38-hour working week, and will increase to €3,539 in the fourth year (scale P). 
  • You will receive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus.
  • You will be employed for an initial period of 18 months, after which your performance will be evaluated. If the evaluation is positive, the contract will be extended by 2.5 years (4 year contract).
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Care Services. Our Dual Career and Family Care Officer can assist you with family-related support, help your partner or spouse prepare for the local labour market, provide customized support in their search for employment and help your family settle in Nijmegen.
  • Working for us means getting extra days off. In case of full-time employment, you can choose between 30 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the legally allotted 20.

Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.

Work Hours:

40 hours per week


Houtlaan 4