PhD Project

Leuven, (BE)
Nov 26, 2019
End of advertisement period
Dec 26, 2019
Academic Discipline
Life sciences, Biological Sciences
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

The Functional Biology group of KU Leuven is a dynamic team conducting high-level research on mechanisms underlying nutrient signaling, pH and calcium homeostasis and the functioning of different organelles. The team uses this knowhow to develop yeast models allowing to get fundamental insight in the pathobiology of a variety of human proteopathies. An overview of our research can be found on our lab website

Website unit

Project Cells of all living organisms are equipped with complex and interconnected signal transduction pathways enabling them to make appropriate changes in cell growth and metabolism in response to environmental changes. The Functional Biology group has a long-standing tradition in studying the signaling network that allows yeast cells to properly respond to nutritional signals in order to extend cellular lifespan. This project focusses on the protein kinase Sch9 and its central role in nutrient signaling. It is well established that Sch9 receives input from two signaling complexes, the first called TORC1, that senses nutrient availability, and the second called SNF1, that senses the cellular energy levels. However, more recently we found that Sch9 also receives information on the functioning of vacuoles and mitochondria, and that it may control a system allowing for organelle pH management. By acting as integrator of these different signals, it appears that Sch9 can function as molecular switch that opens or closes specific signaling circuits enabling to enhance either nutrient uptake, storage, or recycling, which are all processes that have a major impact on cellular ageing and longevity. We want to understand how this Sch9-dependent molecular switch operates.


A Master degree in Biology, Biochemistry, BiomedicalSciences, Bio-engineering or equivalent (obtained prior to 15/02/2020) is a must. You have good knowledge of molecular biology, cell biology and genetics.

Applicants must also have a competitive profile to apply for an FWO fellowship in fundamental research or strategic basic research (see

In addition, you:

  • are an autonomous, sociable colleague.
  • are eager to learn, and have a lively interest in scientific research.
  • have excellent research skills and a strong interest in molecular and cell biological methods.
  • conduct research following the lab rules as well as rules of scientific integrity.
  • are proficient in English and have good communication skills, both orally and in writing.
  • are willing to supervise Bachelor and Master students.
  • have (an interest in learning) basic bioinformatics and statistical analysis skills.
  • have experience with international mobility is a plus,though not obligatory.
  • are efficient and stress resistant, and able to respect deadlines.


We offer a full-time predoctoral position at the Laboratory of Functional Biology, Belgium. You will work in a stimulating research environment and contribute to the team spirit of our young research group consisting of several PhD students, technicians and postdocs.

The initial contract can be extended to fund a 4-year PhD project provided a positive evaluation of a competitive FWO fellowship application.

The salary will be in accordance with the University salary scales for doctoral researchers.

KU Leuven is one of Europe's top universities and is located in the vibrant city of Leuven, which has a strong international appeal. For more information on the University of Leuven visit:


Candidates can apply via the online application tool.

Please provide CV, transcript of your study results, your overall ranking in comparison with peers (e.g. top XX% of YY students at your institute,or similar) and motivation letter. Please also include the names and contact information of 2 senior researchers that are willing to write a letter of recommendation if necessary (no letters are to be send yet).

Envisaged start date is February 1st, 2020.

For more information please contact Prof. dr. Joris Winderickx, tel.: +32 16 32 15 16, mail: You can apply for this job no later than December 20, 2019 via the online application tool KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at