Postdoc position: Disease mechanisms and therapy development for neurodevelopmental epilepsies

Antwerp VIB-UAntwerp Center for Molecular Neurology

14 Mar 2021

Antwerp

VIB-UAntwerp Center for Molecular Neurology

Post-doctoral

1

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

Postdoc position: Disease mechanisms and therapy development for neurodevelopmental epilepsies due to voltage-gated potassium channel mutations

Position

The Weckhuysen team at the VIB-Uantwerp Center for Molecular Neurology, Belgium, is seeking a highly motivated postdoctoral fellow to work on a project that uses induced pluripotent stem cell-derived neuronal cultures for the study of neurodevelopmental disorders caused by pathogenic variants in the Kv7 family of voltage gated-potassium channel genes.

Kv7-associated encephalopathies are a group of severe epilepsies with onset in the first months of life, characterized by treatment-resistant seizures and developmental delay. They are caused by mutations in the genes KCNQ2, KCNQ3 or KCNQ5, encoding voltage-gated potassium channels that are responsible for the M-current. The Kv7 channels play a critical role in the regulation of neuronal excitability, but their role in the pathogenesis of neurodevelopmental problems, and the relative contribution of different cell types to pathology, is still poorly understood. This project is part of an international effort to improve our mechanistic understanding of Kv7-associated encephalopathies using in vitro neuronal models and to develop more targeted therapies that have the potential to improve the developmental outcome of patients. Therapy development includes small molecule screening and exploration of antisense oligonucleotide approaches.

Job Description

In this project, you will make use of iPSC technology, cell culturing, molecular genetics, Multi-Electrode Array (MEA) electrophysiology, and advanced microscopy techniques. You will work in close collaboration with other team members working in the clinic and the wet lab. Within the team, you will be expected to work independently and drive your own research project. Your work will be embedded in a larger European collaborative project on therapy development for Kv7 related disorders.

Profile

We seek a young, critical, creative, and ambitious individual with a strong interest in neurobiology.

Essential

  • Ph.D. in neurobiology (molecular, cellular, developmental, systems) or related disciplines
  • You have acquired relevant practical experience regarding the research lines of the group. Prior experience with iPSC technology is a major plus
  • You are capable of independently planning, executing, and troubleshooting your daily work, and take an interest in driving your project, including identifying and proposing productive research directions.
  • A solid publication record with at least 2 first- (or last-) author research publication(s) in peer-reviewed international journals
  • Efficient communication and writing skills, and excellent mastery of the English language
  • Ability to work in a multidisciplinary and international research team

Desirable but not required

  • Prior experience with transcriptomics, proteomics, or bioinformatics
  • Prior experience with electrophysiology

We offer

  • Financial support for at least 2 years. The applicant will be assisted in the application for personal fellowships during this time (Marie-Curie, HFSP, EMBO, National funding organizations,).
  • A motivated team where each scientist has a personal project
  • Access to state-of-the-art infrastructure and core facilities in a vibrant, world-class research environment operating at an international level
  • Dedicated training programs available through VIB and UAntwerp to broaden your expertise and enhance your skillset
  • A stimulating and international research environment 
  • A strong and dynamic network of international collaborators

Starting date: as soon as possible

How to apply?

Motivated candidates are asked to apply via the online tool.

Applications must include:

  • a detailed CV
  • a letter of motivation explaining why you are interested in our work and aspire a postdoc
  • the name and contact details of three references (including promotor of Ph.D. thesis).   

For more information please contact sarah.weckhuysen@uantwerpen.vib.be

For more information about our research center https://uantwerpen.vib.be/