PhD Student NUTRIM Dept. of Pharmacology & Toxicology

Maastricht University (UM)
September 01 2017
Position Type
Full Time
Organization Type

This PhD project involves comprehensive profiling of Primary Sclerosing Cholangitis (PSC) patients. PSC is a chronic liver disease with multiple stenosis and segmental dilatations of the bile ducts. PSC is an orphan disease with roughly 60,000 patients in the western world, but it is underdiagnosed and liver transplantation is the only available treatment. PSC is strongly associated with ulcerative colitis (UC) and the co-presence of UC (70% of patients) suggests a common etiology. Early detection of PSC and better understanding of disease progression is crucial to improve patient treatment.

An exhaustive profiling of the disease is envisioned using advanced machine learning (chemometrics) technologies to mine large datasets of volatile and nonvolatile metabolites in exhaled breath, feces, and blood as well as metatransriptomics of the gut microbiome

This PhD project focuses on the investigation of exhaled breath of PSC and UC patients from Amsterdam hospital and PSC-specific volatile fingerprints will be determined. In a second stage, volatiles compounds in feces, metabolites in blood and fecal microbiota will be investigated (separately and in combination) for PSC markers. The aim of combining various sources of data, i.e. volatiles in breath and feces, metabolites in blood and gut-bacteria, is to get more insights in the disease pathogenesis and role of gut microbiota. This approach will provide new insights into host-microbiome interactions, which recognizes the complicated and multifactorial nature of PSC. The findings in Amsterdam cohort (used as discovery cohort) will be validated in the independent patients' cohort from Maastricht University Medical Centre+.

The PhD student is responsible for:

  • carrying out the main experiments and data analysis designed within the above described project

  • generating ideas within the scope of the defined subject

  • analyzing the generated data and preparing manuscripts based on the most important findings

  • staying abreast of developments in his/her scientific discipline by keeping up with the scientific literature in his/her field and visiting scientific meetings

This job comes from a partnership with Science Magazine and Euraxess