PhD Student

Last application date
Jul 08, 2023 00:00
DI04 - Department of Translational Physiology, Infectiology and Public Health
Limited duration
Master of Biology, Master of Bioscience Engineering, Master of Biochemistry and Biotechnology, Master of Veterinary Medicine, Master of Biomedical Sciences, Master of Human Medicine, Master of Food Technology, or Master of Nutrition and Food Systems
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

The research group of Prof. Sarah Gabriël, focusses on foodborne parasitic zoonoses. Various parasites are covered, but for the present project, the fishborne parasite Anisakis is the focus. The project ANISALL is funded by the Federale Overheidsdienst (FOD) (Belgium) and is entitled: “Anisakidae: Studying the hidden allergic concerns in fish, pork and chicken meat.”

Allergen presence is a significant challenge for food operators. The zoonotic fishborne nematode Anisakis simplex causes a series of clinical manifestations among which abdominal symptoms and allergic reactions. Reports are increasingly claiming the appearance of allergic symptoms after ingestion of (fresh, frozen, or cooked) fish infested with Anisakis species.

The ANISALL project entails a large-scale, quantitative study on both fish meal, and imported and local animal products (fish and meat) to determine the risk of exposure to Anisakis allergens for Belgian Anisakis-sensitized consumers. Sufficient proof-of-principle has been provided in the past that demonstrates the transmissibility of Anisakid allergenic peptides from fish meal, as a feed component, to aquacultured fish and chicken meat. Many of these food products arrive in the Belgian supermarkets and pose a potential risk to sensitized individuals.
Moreover, to examine the presence of allergens in feed (e.g., fish meal) and food products, a reliable and rapid diagnostic tool is needed. To date, several detection tests have been developed coming at different costs and performances, making it difficult for the industry/authorities/scientists to know which one to use in which product/matrix. Therefore, the project consists out of 3 work packages on which the applicant will work:

  • A risk-assessment package in which the presence of anisakid allergens in different food (imported and local) and feed categories will be assessed followed by a risk analysis conducted in a probabilistic framework to assess the consumer’s risk.
  • A detection verification package in which different anisakid allergen/antigen detection tests, including molecular tools, will be obtained and evaluated on their performance in the different products.
  • A communication package that focuses on coordination, communication, and dissemination of the content of the project and (intermediate) results to the relevant stakeholders from start to finish of the project.

For this position we are looking for a motivated candidate for a PhD student position (1 year + 3 more years after positive evaluation). You will also be part of a team of PhD students responsible for supervising master students and practical courses.

Job profile

  • Only candidates with a master’s degree should apply. For diplomas awarded outside the European Union, a certificate of equivalence (NARIC) must be submitted. The degree requirements need to be fulfilled at the start of your appointment.
  • You have a strong interest in academic and/or project-based research and services.
  • You have strong analytical and critical thinking skills
  • You have a strong interest in foodborne parasites, proteomics, and/or food allergens. Hands-on experience is an asset.
  • You have strong communication skills.
  • You are motivated to provide practical exercises to students.
  • You are a team-player, but you can also work perfectly independent.
  • You speak and write Dutch fluently. Good knowledge of English is also required.

As Ghent University maintains an equal opportunities and diversity policy, everyone is encouraged to apply for this position.

How to apply

Apply by sending the documents listed below to Prof. Dr. Sarah Gabriël (sarah.gabrië before the application deadline (see above). We do not accept late applications.

Your application must contain:

  • A Curriculum Vitae (personal details, education, work experience, mastered languages, additional skills, etc.)
  • A Cover letter explaining your motivation
  • A transcript of the required degree (if already in your possession)
  • A transcript of grades obtained during the Bachelor and Master years