PhD student – Project ‘Ototoxicity during Childhood Cancer’, The SOUND study – Van den Heuvel-Eibrink Group

The Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology is a new nationwide research hospital concentrating healthcare, research and education with regard to cancer in children and is located in Utrecht, Science Park de Uithof. The institute has the ambition to provide the best treatment to children with cancer with the highest cure rate and the least side effects to (often complex) anti-cancer treatment. The center brings together the best possible care and scientific research, creating a unique interdisciplinary institute for pediatric oncology in Europe.

The research group of prof. dr. van den Heuvel-Eibrink focusses on translational research projects in pediatric oncology, with a special focus on innovation for pediatric renal tumors, and (genetic) determinants of quality of care and cure, during and after childhood cancer. The latter research focusses on identification of (genetic) determinants of adverse events, especially nephrotoxicity and ototoxicity. In the starting phase of the Princess Máxima Center, her group worked on feasibility to define clinically relevant endpoints for registering direct toxicity in children with cancer (the pilot CROWN registry). Such endpoints, including audiological toxicity, are currently being used to establish and integrate toxicity registration in the Princess Máxima Center data warehouse. Over the past decade, the research group of prof. dr. van den Heuvel-Eibrink has identified several clinical determinants of hearing loss, developed a guideline for ototoxicity surveillance in survivors of childhood cancer within the International Guideline Harmonization Group, and investigated preexisting and novel genetic markers of treatment-related hearing loss within the multinational PanCareLIFE genetic susceptibility study. Currently, prof. dr. M.M. van den Heuvel-Eibrink and her group are further extending the Princess Máxima Center research line on ototoxicity in children with cancer and survivors, especially by focusing on improvement of audiological monitoring and development of preventive measures to avoid ototoxicity as much as possible in the future.

PhD-student project ‘Ototoxicity during Childhood Cancer’

Ototoxicity (hearing loss, tinnitus and/or balance problems) is described in up to 80% of childhood cancer patients treated with platinum agents. These audiological complications have a deleterious impact on speech recognition, vocabulary development, communication abilities, school performances, psychosocial behavior and (future) quality of life. Frequent audiological assessments during and after childhood cancer treatment are important to detect ototoxicity at an early stage. However, recommendations for hearing loss screening highly vary across treatment protocols, or are sometimes completely lacking. Adherence to existing screening guidelines within the clinical setting is not optimal. In addition, aminoglycosides, loop diuretics and vancomycin are known to enhance ototoxicity, but their independent influence has not been investigated in full prospective childhood cancer cohorts. Lastly, knowledge on the incidence of early childhood cancer treatment related tinnitus and vertigo is currently not available.

This project includes evaluation of standard care and identification of risk factors in children treated with platinum, neuro/local ear surgery and cranial irradiation, and identification of additional risk factors for ototoxicity in pediatric cancer patients. Eventually, we aim to determine the frequency and determinants of (co-)treatment related direct hearing loss, tinnitus, and vertigo in children with solid tumors and brain tumors. The PhD student will be involved in  preparation logistics of the study, monitoring of newly diagnosed eligible patients, correctly scheduling audiological evaluations, data analysis and writing of manuscripts.

Education and skills

We are looking for a highly motivated PhD candidate with a Masters Degree in Medicine. The PhD student may preferably have working experience in the (outpatient) clinic and experience with clinical research. Our group welcomes PhD students who have a natural level of scientific thinking and who are curious and eager to learn. The candidate should have excellent communicative, social and collaborative skills, and a good command of oral and written Dutch and English. You are enthusiastic to present your data and share your knowledge in a multidisciplinary setting.

We offer

We offer a PhD project in an inspiring and inter-disciplinary research environment. The total duration of the project is 4 years (full-time). You will initially be appointed for a period of 1 year, and your performance will be evaluated by a training and supervision plan. Supervisors of the project will be Prof dr. MM van den Heuvel-Eibrink, pediatric oncologist, dr A. Hoetink, audiologist, and dr. A. Meijer, Health Scientist.

Salary according to FWG 45 increment 6 (for the 1st year, increased to FWG 45 increment 10 in case of renewal). The Princess Máxima Center operates according to the collective labor agreement ‘CAO algemene ziekenhuizen’.

Contact and application:

You can apply for this position until the 1st of September 2019 by pressing the apply button on this screen. We welcome you to contact Prof.dr. Marry M. van den Heuvel-Eibrink ( for additional information about the vacancy.

Detailed information about the Princess Máxima Center for Pediatric Oncology can also be found at

Acquisitie naar aanleiding van deze vacature wordt niet op prijs gesteld.

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