PhD position to tackle Alzheimer’s dementia by targeting the presynaptic defects induced by Tau

Leuven VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research

21 Feb 2021


VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research

Bart De Strooper Lab, Patrik Verstreken Lab



About the project

We are looking for a highly motivated Ph.D. student for a joint project between the Verstreken and De Strooper labs, to develop mouse chimeric models and test the hypothesis that interfering with Tau-induced presynaptic defects blocks neurodegeneration.

About the labs

The Laboratories of prof. Bart De Strooper and Patrik Verstreken are both at the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research, an international high-profile research center at the University of Leuven. Both groups are neighbors, keenly interested in the mechanisms of neurodegeneration and have a long-standing collaboration.

The De Strooper group has recently developed a much-advanced model of Alzheimer’s disease where human neurons are exposed to Alzheimer’s like pathology in the mouse brain (Espuny-Camacho et al., 2017 Neuron; Mancuso et al., 2019 Nature Neuroscience; Balusu et al. in preparation). 

The Verstreken lab found that the protein Tau associates with synaptic vesicles by binding to “Synaptogyrin-3” and that interfering with this interaction rescues synaptic dysfunction (Zhou et al. 2017 Nature Communications; McInnes et al., 2018 Neuron; Largo-Barrientos et al., 2021 Neuron).

Your job

Your goal is to determine if targeting Synaptogyrin-3 in human neurons protects them from degeneration after xenotransplantation in vivo in the mouse brain. You will use genome editing in iPSC and antisense oligonucleotides as well as electrophysiology, electron microscopy and advanced light microscopy to reach your goal. At the same time, you will also be exposed to the vibrant entrepreneurial environment at VIB and KU Leuven, and work with professionals in the field of innovation and translation.


We are seeking a highly motivated, enthusiastic, critical and creative individual to join our teams. The candidate should have a strong interest in synapse biology and neurodegenerative/Alzheimer’s disease.


  • Master's degree in biomedicine, neuroscience, genetics, bio-engineering or equivalent (at least cum laude);
  • Basic molecular biology techniques (recombinant DNA technology);
  • Basic immunohistochemistry and microscopy;
  • Critical mindset and a fast learner and the ability to collaborate in a multidisciplinary project with international and national partners;
  • Good time management and communication skills, verbal and writing and excellent mastery of English


  • Experience in iPSC-derived neuronal cell culture;
  • Experience with in vivo mouse models;
  • Experience with advanced molecular biology (genome editing)
  • Basic bioinformatics skills (R or Python) is helpful

We offer

  • A stimulating, diverse, international and exceptionally strong research environment in two world-class academic research labs;
  • An exciting basic research project with a translational component and exposure to a vibrant biotech startup culture at VIB and KU Leuven;
  • Opportunity to learn exciting novel technology;
  • Access to state-of-the-art infrastructure at the center for Brain & Disease Research;
  • Financial support is available. However, the successful candidate is encouraged to obtain a personal fellowship;

Start date: as soon as possible - the position is available immediately

How to apply?

For more information contact or Please complete the online application procedure and include a motivation letter, a detailed CV, including a list of publications, and the contact information of three referees.