PhD Student

Last application date
Apr 01, 2023 00:00
LA25 - Department of Biotechnology
Limited duration
Master degree in Bioscience Engineering, Biomedical Sciences, Biotechnology or equivalent, completed before the start date of the position, with excellent grades
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

The continued spread of anti-microbial resistant bacterial pathogens together with a lag in the development of suitable antibiotic alternatives set the alarm bells ringing in public and animal health. The ImmunoKeys project (Merging immunology with synthetic biology to improve animal health: strain engineering for the production of structurally defined carbohydrates with immunomodulating properties) brings together experts in synthetic biology and animal immunology to engineer microbial cell factories capable of producing structurally well-defined chitooligosaccharides with optimal immunostimulating properties via an integrated Design-Build-Test-Learn (DBTL) cycle. The obtained knowledge will lay the foundation for the development of these glycans as innovative alternatives for antibiotics in animal health.

Type of employment:

  • PhD candidate researcher: Full-time, fixed-term appointment for initially 1 year, yearly renewable after positive evaluation up to 4 years. Intended starting date: as soon as possible.
  • A competitive salary including benefits is offered.
  • Ghent University is an equal opportunity employer.

The Centre for Synthetic Biology (CSB, is part of the Faculty of Bioscience Engineering at Ghent University, a top 100 university in most rankings. CSB has a long tradition in the application of synthetic biology for industrial biotechnology, particularly directed towards the biocatalytic synthesis of chemicals through either microbial fermentation or the use of isolated enzymes. The area of expertise includes the screening for novel biocatalysts (enzymes and micro-organisms), the optimisation of fermentation strains through metabolic engineering, the engineering of enzymes through rational design and directed evolution, as well as process development, up-scaling, and downstream processing. Prof. De Mey leads a group of 8 PhD students and 4 postdocs and has a strong track-record in translating her basic research into real-life applications, including patents and spin-offs.

Job profile

Background and experience:

Scientific researcher: A Master degree in Bioscience Engineering, Biomedical Sciences, biotechnology or equivalent, completed before the start date of the position, with excellent grades.

Experience in the field of synthetic biology for microbial biotechnology will be greatly appreciated.

Scientific knowledge and skills:

  • Knowledge of microbial biotechnology.
  • Hands on experience in asceptic cultivation of microbes.
  • Hands on experience in microbial synthetic biology is a strong adeed value.
  • Ability to rigorously design experiments and to perform experiments under well-controlled conditions.
  • Ability to work with analytics, such as chromatography, as well as experience with microbial or cell line analyses.
  • Ability to rigorously design and perform experiments in a result-oriented and thorough manner.
  • Ability to perform in-depth and critical data analysis.
  • Ability to communicate through high-quality scientific channels, e.g. WoS publications (A1).

Personal knowledge and skills:

  • A strong interest in inter/multi-disciplinary applied science.
  • Excellent interpersonal skills to work effectively with team members from different backgrounds and in different research areas.
  • Excellent skills for time management and the ability to meet objectives within strictly set deadlines.
  • Good oral and written communication skills in English are strictly required (C1 level).
  • Knowledge of Dutch is an asset but not a must.
  • Demonstrated ability to work efficiently.
  • Outcome focused, hands-on mentality.
  • Willingness to travel internationally for project meetings and conferences.
  • Willingness to apply for scholarships to obtain additional funding.

How to apply

Submission and closing date:
Applications must be sent via email to Prof. Marjan De Mey ( and Dr. Chiara Guidi ( as pdf or word documents, with in the subject line mentioning “vacancy ImmunoKeys_PhD”. Final closing date is 31st of March 2023 (23h59 CET), but applications will be regularly reviewed prior to the deadline, hence, early application is recommended.

Application files:
1. Cover Letter, named as “CoverLetter_Family name”. The cover letter should include the position reference, your contact address, email and telephone number. It is an opportunity -in not more than one page- to introduce yourself and highlight the key reasons you should be considered for the role, taking into account the required skills.
2. Resume or Curriculum Vitae, named as “CV_Familiy name”. A resume is a brief history of your employment and experience that covers the following areas:

  • Educational qualifications and professional affiliations that detail the full title of the qualification, the year awarded and the title of the institution attended;
  • Employment history in chronological order, starting with current position and specifying dates of employment, title of each position, name of employer, main duties or accountabilities and achievements;
  • Research fields and current interests, publications (full list as attachment with three most significant marked with an asterisk, also indicating impact factors and Quartiles according to Web of Science), research grants awarded.
  • The names and contact details (address, telephone, e-mail) of three referees, including if possible a senior person (preferably your supervisor, manager or head of organisational unit) closely associated with your current work. A referee must be able to comment on your work experience, skills and performance with respect to the selection criteria.

3. Selection Criteria, named “SelectionCriteria_Family name”. A statement addressing how each of the selection criteria has been met, is required to assist the Selection Committee determine whether you have the relevant qualifications, knowledge/skills, experience and personal qualities.

Selection process:
A Selection Committee will consider all applications and shortlist candidates for interview who appear to meet the selection criteria at the highest levels. They will be invited to attend an interview and the remaining unsuccessful applicants will be notified accordingly.

An invitation to attend an interview provides an opportunity to provide further information to the Selection Committee to substantiate your claims against the selection criteria or demonstrate your capabilities. Please note that for some positions interviews may be conducted by teleconference in the first instance.

The Selection Committee will subsequently seek referee reports, if not sought prior to interview, before making a decision to make an offer of appointment to the preferred candidate. The purpose of referee checks is to obtain, in confidence, factual information about your past work history, as well as opinions regarding the quality of your work, behaviour in the work place and suitability for the position. Referee reports may be sought orally, or for academic staff, in writing by post or e-mail.

If you are the preferred candidate, you will receive a written offer of appointment to the position. Do not take any action, such as resigning from your current position, before you receive a written offer of appointment.

More information regarding this position:
Please contact Prof. Marjan De Mey ( or dr. Chiara Guidi (