Postdoctoral Researcher / PhD student in Neuroimaging/Neurophotonics and ENS-CNS connectivity

Leuven, Louvain (BE)
14 Feb 2020
End of advertisement period
03 Apr 2020
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Neuronal connectivity between the enteric and central nervous system: an advanced microscopy study 
(ref. BAP-2019-767)

The Laboratory of Enteric NeuroScience (LENS) and Cell and Tissue Imaging Cluster, University of Leuven, Belgium is currently hiring: 

Postdoctoral Researcher / PhD student in Neuroimaging/Neurophotonics and ENS-CNS connectivity

In this research project you will investigate how clusters of neurons (iPSC derived or primary enteric and central nervous system)establish functional circuits and how their activity influences each other. You will be responsible for co-culturing different neuron types and work towards the implementation of these functional networks in a microfluidic device to ultimately mimic the neuronal component of the gut-brain axis. This work is part of a larger FETPROACT project (CONNECT) in which, together with several European colleagues, we aim to establish an integrated multicompartment neuronal circuit on a single microfluidic chip. Given the intriguing hypothesis of H. Braak (2006), stating that the gut neurons could act as a relay station for the pathological transmission from the ENS to the CNS, we will test a number of questions specifically related to role of the gut-brain connection in Parkinson’s Disease. You will use advanced imaging tools including confocal,Airyscan, STED and non-linear optical approaches (multiphoton and second-harmonic imaging) to investigate recurrent activity patterns within the compartments as well as trafficking of (mutated) proteins (e.g. α-synuclein) and protein complexes between the groups of cells. In combination with calcium imaging, electrical and optogenetic technology, we aim to investigate the relation between neuronal activity, axonal transport and interactive circuit activity. 
The results from this project and the technology that will be developed will pave the way for future therapeutic strategies targeting the gut-brain connection in pathological conditions. 


Profile and requirements:

  • You received basic or advanced training in (neuro)biology,(bio)-medical sciences, bio-engineering, microscopy and have a keen interest inor vice versa.
  • You are a strong team player and motivated to become part of a multidisciplinary research group.
  • You communicate well in English and have experience writing scientific papers in English.You are passionate about (optical)
  • technology, as well as neurosciences.

Postdoctoral researcher: 

  • You obtained a doctoral degree (no longer than 3 years ago) in optics/physics/technology or in the domain of life sciences(biotechnology, biology, biochemistry; bio-engineering (bio)medical sciences)or equivalent.
  • Experience with or a keen interest in microscopic imaging or electrophysiology techniques (immunohistochemistry,immunofluorescence, confocal microscopy, live cell imaging, patch-clamp) isrequired.
  • You have experience with supervising PhD and/or master’sstudents.
  • You have a clear interest in quantitative approaches and have experience with image analysis.
  • Candidates who are eligible for Marie Skłodowska-Curiefellowship are encouraged to apply (check eligibility via

 PhD student:

  • You hold a master’s degree in domain of life sciences (biotechnology,biology, biochemistry; bio-engineering (bio)medical sciences) or in optics/physics/technology.
  • You have a keen interest in (optical) microscopy and a good understanding of(neuro) biology (or vice versa)
  • You have a critical scientific and quantitative attitude.
  • Students who are eligible for a fellowship of the Chinese Student Council (CSC) orTaiwanese government, or a are encouraged to apply.

We offer:

  • A position as a full-time (100%) postdoctoral fellow/PhDresearcher on an annual contract basis with the possibility of renewal within the budgetary limits of the project and depending on a positive evaluation.
  • A dynamic and international research environment with access to multiple advanced imaging systems (confocal, multiphoton, intravital,super-resolution) set in a vast neuroscience community.
  • Salary scales are set according to university regulations within the available budget of the research project and depending on the candidate’s relevant former professional experience.
  • Starting date: as soon as possible

Living in Leuven:

Send your CV and a letter of interest (including one or two references) via the job site of the KULeuven or directly to Prof. Dr. Pieter Vanden Berghe (
For further information, you can send an email to the same address.