PhD Student

Last application date
Mar 15, 2021 00:00
DI06 - Department of Veterinary Public Health and Food Safety
Limited duration
Occupancy rate
Vacancy type
Research staff

Job description

Ghent University and KU Leuven are looking for a full-time PhD student studying linking the dietary exposome (the totality of all non-genetic exposures from conception onwards, throughout life) & microbiome-inflammation axis in food allergies.

The PhD project is embedded in an inter-university BOF (iBOF) project – The Flemish exposome project: towards a comprehensive understanding of the life-course impact of dietary and environmental exposure on chronic low-grade gut inflammation (FLEXiGUT) – led by a consortium consisting of 5 promoters from 4 different Flemish universities (UGent (Prof. Sarah De Saeger, Prof. Lynn Vanhaecke), KU Leuven (Prof. Jeroen Raes), Hasselt University (Prof. Tim Nawrot) and University of Antwerp (Prof. Adrian Covaci)).

In total, six joint PhD students will work in a complementary way to characterize human life-course dietary and environmental exposure to assess and validate its impact on chronic low-grade inflammation and related pathologies.

This PhD project will be executed in two research groups: The Laboratory of Chemical Analysis (LCA, UGent) historically is recognized worldwide for its expertise in the chemical analysis of various biological, food and environmental matrices using advanced mass spectrometric techniques. In the last decade, a new analytical path was entered, thereby exploiting the possibilities of state-of-the-art high-resolution mass spectrometry (HRMS) based untargeted metabolomics and lipidomics (in a wide range of biological matrices) for studying animal and human health and disease in relation to the diet-gut microbiome axis incl. complex data analysis. The Raes lab (KU Leuven) has a long track record in microbiome research and its association to host physiology and disease, through the analysis of metagenomic datasets in large-scale population and patient cohorts (Falony et al. Science 2016; Vieira-Silva et al Nature micro 2019; Vieira-Silva et al Nature 2020). To this aim we also developed a wide range of bioinformatics tools and approaches for omics analysis and integration from which the candidate can benefit. Current work will e.g. build upon the Flemish Gut Flora project, a large-scale and unique microbiome population study coordinated by the lab.

Within this PhD project, the PhD student will be responsible for the qualitative and quantitative characterization of the exposome in biological samples, using metabolomics (polar metabolomics, lipidomics, DNA adductomics) and metagenomics analysis, integrated data processing and biostatistics.

Job profile

  • Master’s Degree in a relevant branch of Life Sciences (Bioscience Engineering, Medicine, Veterinary Medicine, Biomedical Sciences, etc.), obtained with a minimum degree of distinction.
  • We are looking for an enthusiastic, flexible and persistent candidate with an interest in scientific research within the field of public health.
  • There is no prior work experience required, but a profound interest in metabolomics (polar metabolomics, lipidomics, DNA adductomics), metagenomics, big data and biostatistics is a must.
  • Experience with R programming is of great added value.

How to apply

The selected candidate will be employed (as soon as possible) on the existing iBOF research project, initially for a trial period of 1 year (+ 3 years upon extension).

In parallel, the PhD candidate will aid in writing project applications for a personal doctoral grant that will, if successful, yield a personal PhD mandate.

For specific questions about the vacancy or submitting your application (motivation letter + CV + transcript of records), please contact Prof. Lynn Vanhaecke (

Deadline for application: up to and including March 15, 2021.