Universiteit Leiden

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Postdoc in Clinical Psychology

Vacancy number
Function type
Academic staff
Hours (in fte)
External/ internal
Placed on
9 February 2021
Closing date
23 March 2021 Vacancy closed

The section Clinical Psychology of the Faculty Social and Behavioural Sciences is looking for a

Postdoc in Clinical Psychology

Project description
Research project “Mind the microbes! The microbiota-gut-brain axis in emotion and cognition”.
Mental health problems are placing a heavy and continuously growing burden on public health, calling for a resolution. Animal and human studies support the idea that the diverse microbial communities in the intestinal tract (i.e. the gut microbiota) are crucial in supporting optimal brain functioning; the bidirectional microbiota-gut-brain axis provides a paradigm shift with potential for promoting mental health. Animal studies further point at a potential key role of the vagal nerve in modulating the microbiota-gut-brain axis, but little direct evidence in humans is available. Research points at a number of physiological (e.g. heart rate variability, interleukin and immunoglobulin activity) and cognitive-emotional processes involved, such as cognitive reactivity, emotion regulation and -recognition, interoception, and emotional biases. Understanding the possible causal role and preventive potential of the microbiota-gut-brain axis in stress-related disorders hence requires investigation of the cognitive-emotional consequences of gut microbial functioning and/or manipulations (e.g. induced by pro- or antibiotics) and modulating factors (e.g. vagal tone). Hence, this postdoctoral project will focus on 1) Determining effects of anti- and/or probiotics on cognitive-emotional processing and reactivity in otherwise healthy volunteers and 2) Identifying moderating and/or mediating factors, e.g. gut microbiome composition, cytokine activity, and/or vagal tone. Datacollection for this project is already completed, hence the postdoc will mainly focus on analyses and reporting. The research group participates in the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC), an interfaculty center for interdisciplinary research on brain and cognition.

Key responsibilities

  • Literature study, confirmatory and exploratory data analysis;
  • Report results in international peer-reviewed journals and at conferences;
  • Supervise BSc and MSc thesis and internship projects;
  • Participate in the Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition (LIBC).

Selection criteria

  • PhD in a relevant field such as psychobiology, experimental-, clinical- or neuropsychology
  • A clear interest in interdisciplinary empirical science;
  • Programming experience (e.g., Matlab, R, E-prime);
  • Experience in psychophysiological testing in humans
  • Excellent research and writing skills;
  • Excellent command of English and preferably Dutch.

Our organisation
The Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences comprises five institutes: Education and Child Studies, Political Science, Psychology, Cultural Anthropology & Development Sociology and the Centre for Science and Technology Studies. The Faculty is home to 5,000 students and 600 members of staff. Our teaching and research programmes cover diverse topics varying from adoption to political behaviour. For more information, see the website.

Terms and conditions
We offer a full-time, fixed-term post for
 14 months. Extension is possible in case the postdoc is motivated, and their profile suitable, to take on teaching responsibilities. Salary range from € 2,790.- to  4,402.- gross per month on a full-time basis (pay scale 10, in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities). A part-time position (minimum 0.6 FTE) is possible. Preferred starting date: no later than June 1st, 2021. Earlier is possible.

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

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


Enquiries can be made to Laura Steenbergen, L.Steenbergen@fsw.leidenuniv.nl.

Please submit online your application no later than 23 March 2021 via the blue button in our application system. Applicants should submit online a letter of interest accompanied by a CV.

Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.


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