PhD Positions in Neuroscience
University of Amsterdam Institute for Life Sciences

Three PhD positions in Neuroscience

Publication date 9 March 2021

Closing date 12 April 2021

Level of education Master's degree

Hours 38 hours per week

Salary indication €2,395 to €3,061 gross per month

Vacancy number 21-155

The research group Cellular and Computational Neuroscience is part of the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS) Neuroscience theme and investigates the regulation of neuronal excitability and plasticity at the membrane, cellular and network level using electrophysiological, pharmacological and molecular techniques.

We have three PhD positions in Neuroscience available.

Project 1: The effect of noradrenaline on the perirhinal gate in Alzheimer’s disease

The perirhinal region is a brain region that operates as a functional gate between the neocortex and the hippocampal formation. The ‘opening’ of this gate promotes memory encoding in the hippocampus. We hypothesize that this gate function is defective in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The goal of this project is to compare the functioning of the perirhinal gate between AD and control animals and to investigate the modulation of the circuit by noradrenaline. The experimental approach will use acute brain slices and employ voltage sensitive dye imaging, electrophysiological techniques, optogenetics, histology, pharmacological manipulation and in vivo behavioural experiments.

Project 2: Noradrenaline regulation of alertness through modulation of cortical synaptic function

In the brain, noradrenaline release raises our alertness, an intrinsic component of attention and consciousness. Noradrenaline modulates synaptic communication and neuronal network activity within cortical structures such as the prefrontal cortex and visual cortex. The goal of this project is to determine how the locus coeruleus (LC), via the release of noradrenaline, modulates synapse strength and consequently network activity in these brain regions to regulate alertness. The experimental approach will combine molecular, optogenetics and electrophysiological techniques on brain slices and in vivo to study how LC-activity controls synaptic communication.

Project 3: The link between Aβ-driven synapse and network alterations that cause memory impairment

Amyloid-β (Aβ), the prime suspect to cause Alzheimer’s disease (AD), triggers synapse loss and alters network activity. How the effects of Aβ on network excitability and on synapses are related is unknown. The objective of this project is to investigate how network and synapse changes depend on each other in an AD-mouse model. We hypothesize that these two Aβ-driven events reinforce each other to cause memory deficits. The experimental approach will combine molecular biology, electrophysiology and imaging techniques with behavioural tests to study the cause of AD-related memory impairment

What are you going to do?

You are expected to:

  • gain knowledge of the field through literature survey, discussion with team members, and internal lab meetings;
  • contribute to the design of experiments and perform experiments;
  • analyse and interpret results of experiments;
  • draft papers and write a thesis;
  • enrol in the training program for PhD students in the graduate school ONWAR (Graduate School Neurosciences Amsterdam Rotterdam);
  • teach seminars and/or practical for Bachelor and Master students;
  • supervise Bachelor and Master student projects.

What do we require?

We are looking for a highly motivated, ambitious and enthusiastic person with:

  • a Master degree in Neuroscience or equivalent;
  • analytical and theoretical skills as well as experimental talent;
  • a background in (cellular) electrophysiology (is an advantage);
  • appreciable communication skills, who communicates very constructively in a team-based environment;
  • excellent writing skills in English.

Our offer

We offer a temporary contract for 38 hours per week, starting not later than 1 August 2021 (due to funding agency constraints) for the duration of 48 months (initial contract will be for a period of 18 months and after satisfactory performance evaluation it can be extended) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). We will draft an educational plan that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. We also expect you to assist in teaching undergraduates and Master students. 

Based on a full-time employment contract (38 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will range from €2,395 in the first year to €3,061 in the last year. This is exclusive 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. A favourable tax agreement, the ‘30% ruling’, may apply to non-Dutch applicants. The Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities is applicable.

Are you curious about our extensive package of secondary employment benefits like our excellent opportunities for study and development? Take a look here.


Do you have questions about this vacancy? Or do you want to know more about our organisation? Project information may be obtained from:

  • Project 1: Dr N.Cappaert, assistant professor
  • Project 2: Dr P.J.P.Chameau, assistant professor
  • Project 3: Prof. H. Kessels, full professor

About the Faculty of Science and the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences

The Faculty of Science has a student body of around 7,000, as well as 1,600 members of staff working in education, research or support services. Researchers and students at the Faculty of Science are fascinated by every aspect of how the world works, be it elementary particles, the birth of the universe or the functioning of the brain.

The Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences (SILS) is one of the largest institutes of the Faculty of Science of the University of Amsterdam (UvA). Its approximately 240 scientists and staff members work in 17 research groups and several expertise centers that perform excellent research centered on four themes: 1) Cell and Systems Biology, 2) Neurosciences 3) Microbiology and 4) Green Life Sciences.

More information about the group Cellular and Computational Neuroscience can be found here.

Job application

The UvA is an equal-opportunity employer. We prioritize diversity and are committed to creating an inclusive environment for everyone. We value a spirit of enquiry and perseverance, provide the space to keep asking questions, and promote a culture of curiosity and creativity.

Do you recognize yourself in the job profile? Then we look forward to receiving your application by 12 April 2021. You may apply online by using the link below. 

Applications in .pdf should include:

  • a motivation letter and CV, including a list of publications;
  • name and email two academic references.
Apply now

No agencies please


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