Center for Medical Biotechnology (CMB) PhD program

Ghent VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology

11 Jul 2024


VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology



About VIB

VIB is an entrepreneurial non-profit research institute, with a clear focus on groundbreaking strategic basic research in life sciences and operates in close partnership with the five universities in Flanders – Ghent University, KU Leuven, University of Antwerp, Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Hasselt University. VIB is an independent research institute of the government, with about 1900 scientists from more than 77 countries.

About VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology

The VIB-UGent Center for Medical Biotechnology (CMB) focuses on the development of new and innovative molecular tools and technologies to challenge human health problems. The Center translates its novel technologies and insights to widely applicable research tools, vaccines, diagnostics and biopharmaceuticals. Our research pushes the boundaries of protein- and DNA-focused biomolecular and bioinformatics research and engineering technologies. CMB educates and trains the next generation of medical biotechnology researchers and informs the public on the impact of biotechnology on human health.

PhD projects

Multi-ome exploration of different liquid biopsy fractions for cancer diagnosis and monitoring - Lab De Preter & lab Gevaert

Analysis of nucleic acids (DNA and RNA) and proteins in liquid biopsy samples of cancer patients has been significantly revolutionized over the past decade. As a result, it has become an important novel, minimally invasive approach for cancer diagnosis, prognosis, prediction and monitoring. During the past years, the team of Katleen De Preter has gained analytical and computational expertise in the isolation, quality control and analysis of cfDNA (circulating cell-free DNA) isolated from blood plasma. The team of Kris Gevaert has recently developed a high-throughput protocol for isolation of EVs (extracellular vesicles) for proteomic analysis and has implemented plasma proteome profiling, including profiling of cytolysis proteins, in their workflows. 

Recently, both teams have joined forces to develop a co-purification protocol of EVs and cfDNA  and to investigate the proteome and nucleic acids in EVs. In this PhD project, we want to investigate and compare the protein, DNA and RNA content in different liquid biopsy fractions, including the circulating cell-free fraction and the EV-fraction. More specifically, we want to investigate the tumoral derivatives in these different fractions through computational analysis of omics data. In addition, we will integrate the multi-omics data and investigate the potential of the integrated data in cancer diagnosis and monitoring. In this project, data will be generated on cell culture medium from EV-secreting cell lines, blood plasma from patient-derived xenograft models as well as clinical samples from cancer patients.

Discovery and characterization of single domain proteins with broad anti-influenza virus activity - Lab Saelens

Human influenza typically presents as yearly epidemics during the winter season in moderate climate zones. In addition, influenza pandemics can occur when a human-to-human transmissible influenza A virus that is antigenically very different from previously circulating viruses emerges. This project aims to isolate single-domain proteins that can broadly neutralize influenza A viruses. In addition, the mode of action of these candidate pan-influenza inhibiting biologics will be determined. Finally, structure-guided formatting will be applied to these single-domain proteins, to achieve optimal antiviral potency and breadth. This PhD research project thus contributes to pandemic preparedness.

What we are looking for

What we can offer you

  • A working environment with enthusiastic fellow Ph.D. students, technicians, postdocs and group leaders.
  • Swift access to state-of-the-art tools and infrastructure that are needed to fulfill your Ph.D. project.
  • A stimulating and supportive international research environment.
  • Institutional training opportunities to broaden your expertise and skills

How to apply?

For more information, please contact Nele Vervaet ([email protected]).

Please apply online and upload your resume and motivation letter:

Your application must include the following documents. Only applications that contain all required documents and information will be considered for selection.

  • A cover letter in which you specify and motivate the research topic of your choice
  • Your CV and an overview of your study results (merged into one pdf file).
  • Your diploma with the required degree (if already in your possession). If you have a foreign diploma in a language other than our national languages (Dutch, French or German) or English, please add a certified translation in one of the mentioned languages.  

Note that the maximum file size for each field is 10 MB.

As VIB and Ghent University maintain an equal opportunities and diversity policy, everyone who satisfies the eligibility criteria is encouraged to apply for this position.

VIB values diversity - in backgrounds and in experiences. The institute needs people from all backgrounds and ways of life to help build a thriving scientific environment. VIB is therefore looking for candidates who are not only strong in their own aptitudes but care deeply about supporting each other's growth. VIB's collaborators are people with different strengths, experiences and backgrounds, who share a passion for science that generates impact in science and in society. Diversity not only includes race and gender identity, but also nationality, age, disability status, sexual orientation, religion and many other parts of one’s identity. All of VIB’s employees’ points of view are key to its success, and inclusion is everyone's responsibility.