Universiteit Leiden

nl en


PhD candidates on the Mathematical Modeling of Cardiovascular Development

Vacancy number
Job type
PhD positions
Hours (in fte)
2.0 (2 positions)
External/ internal
Placed on
15 December 2020
Closing date
15 January 2021 Vacancy closed

The Faculty of Science and the Mathematical Institute is looking for two

PhD candidates on the Mathematical Modeling of Cardiovascular Development
PhD 1: Cell-microenvironment Interactions in Tumor Angiogenesis 
PhD 2: Functional-structural feedback in pacemaker development 

Project description
The openings are for research positions within the field of mathematical or theoretical biology, computational physics, applied mathematics or computational science. The work by PhD 1 will be carried out in close collaboration with a senior research technician and a second PhD student in experimental cell biology. The work by PhD 2 will be carried out in close collaboration with an interdisciplinary consortium of developmental biologists and tissue engineers at Amsterdam UMC, the Hubrecht Institute, and the University of Twente.

Key responsibilities

PhD candidate 1

  • Develop novel multiscale mathematical models of cell-microenvironment interactions during blood vessel formation in tumors.  Capillaries, the smallest blood vessels of our body, are highly dynamic. In cancer blood vessel formation goes awry, resulting in an irregular and leaky tumour vasculature. New anti-cancer therapies try to revert tumour blood vessels back to those found in normal tissues, so as to normalize (i.e., ‘repair’) the blood flow in the tumour. We hypothesize that mechanical interactions between cells, mediated by the tumor microenvironment, are an important key to understanding this process;
  • Correct and improve your  mathematical models in close collaboration with experimental biologists, in particular a technician and a PhD student working who are developing in vitro and in vivo models based on human endothelial cells and zebrafish.

PhD candidate 2

  • Generate mechanistic, mathematical models to define the key mechanisms sufficient for the assembly of functional pacemaker tissues including functional-structural feedbacks due to electrophysiological activity. This position is within a consortium that aims to build functional pacemakers from stem cells. It aims to unravel the construction principles of biological pacemakers in the zebrafish and in vitro. We hypothesize that to understand the principles of a functional cardiac pacemaker tissue, we should know how to build it from all its individual components;
  • Interact closely with our experimental collaborators. The mathematical models will inform new experiments and infom the development of new hypotheses on pacemaker morphogenesis, which will be tested in the model for logical and biophysical consistency

Selection criteria

  • Master’s degree in applied mathematics, computational/theoretical physics, theoretical biology, computer science or a related discipline;
  • Excellent written and oral proficiency in English;
  • Ability to work independently in a multidisciplinary environment;
  • Fluent interdisciplinary communication skills with scientists in cell biology and mathematics;
  • Keen interest in cell and developmental biology;
  • Experience in (numerical) mathematical modeling (e.g., Cellular Potts modeling, particle-based simulations, PDEs, FBA);
  • Excellent programming skills in C++.

Our organisation
The Faculty of Science is a world-class faculty where staff and students work together in a dynamic international environment. It is a faculty where personal and academic development are top priorities. Our people are committed to expand fundamental knowledge by curiosity and to look beyond the borders of their own discipline; their aim is to benefit science, and to make a contribution to addressing the major societal challenges of the future. For more information, see the website of the Faculty of Science.

The research carried out at the Faculty of Science is very diverse, ranging from mathematics, information science, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. The research activities are organised in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programmes. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 2.300 staff and almost 5,000 students. We are located at the heart of Leiden’s Bio Science Park, one of Europe’s biggest science parks, where university and business life come together.

Multiscale Mathematical Biology - The work will be embedded in the Multiscale Mathematical Biology team at the Mathematical Institute and the Institute of Biology Leiden, both at the Faculty of Science at Leiden University. The team carries out mathematical biology research in close interaction with its own experimental work and that of collaborators. The team focuses on cardiovascular development and bacterial ecosystems. 

Terms and conditions 
We offer a  full-time 1 year term position for initially one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the thesis, personal capabilities and compatibility the appointment will be extended by a further three years. Salary range from 2.395,-  to € 3.061,-  gross per month (pay scale P in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities).

Leiden University offers an attractive benefits package with additional holiday (8%) and end-of-year bonuses(8.3 %), training and career development and sabbatical leave. Our individual choices model gives you some freedom to assemble your own set of terms and conditions. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. For more information, see the website.

Graduate school
All our PhD students are embedded in the Leiden University Graduate School of Science. Our graduate school offers several PhD training courses at three levels: professional courses, skills training and personal effectiveness. In addition, advanced courses to deepen scientific knowledge are offered by the research school.

Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups.

Enquiries about the position can be made to Roeland Merks, email merksrmh@math.leidenuniv.nl.

To apply for this vacancy, please send an email to merksrmh@math.leidenuniv.nl. Please ensure that you join to your application the vacancy number and the following additional documents:

  • A letter of motivation;
  • An updated CV;
  • The letters of recommendation by 1 or 2 former supervisors;
  • The transcripts of your MSc studies;
  • Examples of previously written code.

Only applications received no later than 15 January, 2021 will be considered.

This website uses cookies.  More information.