PhD student – Leukemia and the bone marrow niche

We are seeking a highly enthusiastic and ambitious PhD candidate who is interested in leukemia and the bone marrow niche. You will be working in an inspiring and inter-disciplinary research environment. We are looking forward to meeting you!

The project

ALL cells hijack their bone marrow microenvironment and actively modulate the supportive function by stromal cells, creating a so-called ALL-educated niche. We discovered that leukemic cells induce a specific response in stromal cells. This is linked to altered secretion of cyto-/chemokines, potentially associated with altered migration and (de-)activation of normal immune cells. We are specifically interested in dissecting which features affect the response of ALL cells to cellular immunotherapy.

Tasks and responsibilities

The PhD candidate will investigate the effect of the ALL-educated niche on (function of) immune cells, explore the difference between the ALL-educated and the normal bone marrow niche, and study the interplay between immunotherapy and the ALL-educated niche.

Education and skills

  • Master’s degree in biomedical sciences or an equivalent thereof, and a clear interest in pre-clinical cancer research.
  • Excellent problem-solving attitude and eagerness to learn.
  • Preferably experience in cell biological and molecular technologies.
  • Preferably experience in working with data analyses software like R or interest in learning.
  • Team player with excellent communication and presentation skills in English.

Our job offer

We offer you a temporary, fulltime PhD-position for a total duration of 4 years, based on 36 hours a week in an in an inspiring and inter-disciplinary research environment. You will initially be contracted for a period of 1 year, with a possible extension. Your gross monthly salary will start in FWG 45-6 with a salary of €3.355,- gross a month for a fulltime working week (36 hours). You also receive 8,33% holiday allowance and 8,33 % end-of-year bonus. The Princess Máxima Center operates according to the collective labor agreement ‘cao ziekenhuizen’.

Background information

The research group of Prof. Monique den Boer (+/- 13fte) focusses on identifying features of leukemic cells that can be used to improve the clinical outcome for children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Our 30-year track record in preclinical/translational research has resulted in knowledge being implemented in new treatment protocols, and our journey continues to further improve the specificity of anti-leukemia treatment. We have expertise in so-called pathobiological studies addressing which (combination of) genetic lesions characterize the patients’ leukemia, how these lesions functionally contribute to chemo- and immunotherapy response and how these lesions affect the behavior of leukemic cells in the bone marrow microenvironment. The Den Boer group routinely uses many molecular techniques including a.o. (single cell) sequencing, lentivirus-mediated gene silencing, conventional and spectral flow cytometry, cell sorting, confocal imaging and cell migration assays.

The Princess Máxima Center

The Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology is a research hospital concentrating healthcare, research, and education of pediatric cancer in a single location in Utrecht. The institute aims to provide the highest level of care for all children with cancer and has the ambition to cure all children of cancer and improve quality of life. The center brings together the best possible care and scientific research, creating a unique interdisciplinary institute for pediatric oncology in Europe.


Are you our new colleague? We are looking forward to meeting you! You can apply directly by clicking on the orange button on this page. Please upload an up-to-date resume, a short motivation letter (one A4) and contact information of 2-3 references. The application deadline is April 15, but the selection procedure will start meanwhile and may be terminated before this deadline when a good candidate has been recruited. Do you have any questions or would you like more information about this position? Please contact Dr. Cesca van de Ven.

Acquisition as a result of this vacancy is not appreciated.

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