Working at Amsterdam UMC

PhD Biochemical fingerprints of myelin blisters in MS

Are you curious to unravel the mysteries behind MS origin using a biochemical innovative approach in human material?
PhD Biochemical fingerprints of myelin blisters in MS
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  • Hours: 36 uur per week
  • Division: Neuro/head/neck
  • Contract type: training
  • Salary: € 2.570 - € 3.271
  • React until: 6 February 2022
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The project

The root cause of multiple sclerosis (MS) is still unknown. Recent evidence is strongly supporting the possibility that, before the well-reported autoimmune attack against the central nervous system myelin in MS, subtle cytodegenerative processes in the so-called normal appearing white matter (a brain region not affected by overt inflammatory pathology- NAWM) might happen. These processes may be responsible for a primary myelin disintegration, causing a secondary immune response against the myelin debris.

In line with this hypothesis, our team has reported that that the NAWM in human post-mortem MS material presents with peculiar morphological alterations characterized by a precarious myelin detachment from its axons (myelin blisters, Luchicchi et al., 2021, Ann. Neurology) and  sublte patches of lipid biochemical alterations which make the mylein more hydrophilic and, allegedly, less prone to insulate the axonal compartment (Teo et al., 2021, PNAS).

However, the exact role of these lipid alterations in the formation of MS myelin blisters and how/whether they influence the progression from blister formation to mylein degeneration and demyleination is still ignored.

Therefore, we are looking for a motivated and talented PhD student who is willing to answer these tantalizing questions using a novel biochemical approach.

Question about this vacancy?
Tanja Hart Tanja Hart +31621603178 Recruitment adviseur
About your role

As PhD candidate you will have the unprecedented opportunity to combine the recently developed lipidomics/mass-spectrometry techniques with Nile Red spectroscopy and conventional histochemistry/immunohistochemistry in physiologically preserved post-mortem MS and control human brain material in order to:

1. unravel the involvement of lipid alterations responsible for the formation of myelin blisters in MS

2. understand the role of these morphological alteration in MS demyelination processes.

About you

For this project we are looking for a motivated PhD student with a solid biochemical background and strong proactive attitude. You are a natural problem-solver, a teamplayer who is able to seek active collaborations inside and outside the Amsterdam UMC and willing to supervise bachelor and master intership students. High-risk/high-gain projects gives you energy and you are in possession of outstanding analytical skills.

To perform this project we are looking for a PhD candidate who:

- holds a Master’s degree in a field related to biochemistry, biomedical sciences, neuroscience and/or immunology;

-has affinity for biochemistry, immunology and neuroscience;

-has interest in high-dimensional technologies and pushing the boundaries of research through technology-driven applications;

- is ready to perform night shifts when there is availability of post-mortem human material;

- possesses advanced programming skills (plus); 

- is in possession of an excellent command of both written and spoken English.

Our offer
  • A contract for one year (12 months) with the intention to extend for another 36 months.
  • Besides a good basic salary, you will also receive an 8.3% year-end bonus and 8% holiday allowance. Calculate your net salary here.
  • Free and unlimited access to our online learning environment GoodHabitz.
  • Pension accrual with ABP, of which we pay 70% of the premium.
  • Reimbursement of 75% of your public transport costs. Would you rather travel by bike? Then we have a good bicycle scheme.
  • An active personnel association and the Young Amsterdam UMC association, both of which organise fun (sports) activities and events.

About your workplace

As Ph.D. candidate you will benefit from the supervision of dr. Antonio Luchicchi (Anatomy and Neurosciences Department, VUmc) and dr. Gijs Kooij (Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology, VUmc).

MS research at the VU University medical center is gathered in the multidisciplinary MS Center Amsterdam, which has an excellent international reputation and belongs to one of the top three MS research centers of the world ( The MS Center is embedded in the Amsterdam Neuroscience (AN), which represents the largest neuroscience research community assembled on one city in the Netherlands. Various research groups within the AN join forces to gain more insight into mechanisms underlying brain diseases, applying the latest technology and thereby providing new perspectives on therapy. Within the MS Center Amsterdam, the Departments of Molecular Cell Biology and Immunology, Radiology, Clinical Chemistry, Anatomy & Neurosciences intensively collaborate on the involvement of immunological mechanisms and pathophysiological processes underlying MS.

Working at Amsterdam UMC means working in an inspiring and professional environment where developing one`s talents and academic skills are encouraged. We offer you ample opportunity for development, deepening and broadening, additional training, and a place to grow!

What to expect
A job in our beautiful capital
Working for the most preferred employer in healthcare (intermediair 2021)
All colleagues have the same goal: contributing to tomorrow's care
We care not only for our patients, but also for you
Cooperation is characterised by mutual trust and interest in one another
We are constantly innovating, so you must be able to deal with change
Parking is limited at location VUmc, but by public transport you can get to the door
A full agenda, because our staff association organises many fun activities
Meet your colleagues Watch video’s of your future colleagues
Amsterdam UMC
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Let’s meet!

The first round of interviews is scheduled for the first half of February. Invitations to this first round are possible during the publication period.

Do you have any questions? For substantive information please contact Antonio Luchicchi, Assistant Professor, via 06-33469740 or via

For more information about the application procedure contact Tanja Hart, Recruitment Advisor, via 06-21603178 or

A reference check, screening and appointment test may be part of the procedure. Read here whether this also applies to you. If you join us, we ask for a VOG (Certificate of Good Behaviour). 

Internal candidates will be given priority over external candidates in case of equal suitability.

Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.

For Dutch citizens it is mandatory to provide a VOG (Verklaring Omtrent Gedrag). Foreign citizens need to provide comparable police clearing certificates.