Universiteit Leiden

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Research Assistant on the subject of multiscale modelling of the gut microbiota in infants

Wetenschappelijke functies, Niet-wetenschappelijke functies
Omvang (fte)
1.0 FTE
Intern, Extern
Geplaatst op
12 februari 2019
08 maart 2019

Nog 17 dagen om te solliciteren

The Faculty of Science has a vacancy in the Institute of Biology Leiden and the Mathematical Institute for a Research Assistant on the subject of multiscale modelling of the gut microbiota in infants (1.0 FTE).


Project description

The opening is for a research position, within the field of mathematical or theoretical biology, applied mathematics or computational science

The central hypothesis of the project is that the intestinal microbiota of the infant contributes to the physiological performance. The microbial composition and metabolic product blend, due to digestion, are linked with each other.  The microbial products can be produced with various physiological effects. The aim of this project is to identify control strategies for steering the microbial composition and the production of selected metabolic products by the gut microbiota.
The objective of the project is to further develop our existing, spatial, multiscale simulation platform of the gut microbiota (Van Hoek and Merks, BMC Systems Biology 2017) towards a platform that can be a hypothesis generator for how nutritional composition and structure of dairy products is linked to digestive performance in the infants. The model includes detailed metabolism of bacterial populations based on flux-balance analysis, partial-differential equations to model the exchange of nutrients, and agent-based models of bacterial population dynamics.

Selection criteria

  • Master’s degree in applied mathematics, computational physics, theoretical biology, computer science or a related discipline;
  • Good to excellent written and oral proficiency in English;
  • Ability to work independently in a multidisciplinary environment;
  • Ability to communicate with scientists in biology and mathematics;
  • Experience in mathematical modeling (e.g., agent-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.
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 organized in eight institutes. These institutes offer eight bachelor’s and twelve master’s programs. The faculty has grown strongly in recent years and now has more than 1,300 staff and almost 4,000 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.

The work will be embedded in the Multiscale Mathematical Biology team at the Institute of Biology Leiden and the Mathematical Institute. The team carries out mathematical biology research in close collaboration with experimental researchers. The team focuses on modelling pattern formation and morphogenesis in multicellular organisms and bacterial ecosystems. More information about the group can be found on http://biomodel.project.cwi.nl.

The Institute of Biology Leiden (IBL) is one of the institutes of the Faculty of Science. IBL is an internationally oriented institute for research and education in biology. IBL  performs top quality innovative fundamental and strategic research that will lead to scientific progress, contribute to solutions for societal challenges, and generate industrial opportunities, reflected in the general theme ‘Healthy Lives in a Changing World’. The Institute is organised in three multidisciplinary clusters: Animal Sciences & Health, Plant Sciences & Natural Products and Microbial Biotechnology & Health. For more information see: https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/science/biology

The Mathematical Institute (MI) is responsible for the research and education in mathematics and statistics at Leiden University. The institute has a strong international orientation. Its mission is to perform high quality research at the frontiers of mathematical knowledge, and to educate future generations of mathematicians and statisticians in a friendly but challenging environment. For more information see https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/science/mathematics.

Terms and conditions

We offer a temporary position for one year. The position may be prolonged to a period of maximum four years, in which case the candidate is expected to work towards an academic promotion. The one-year position will be financed by, and will be carried out in part at a large international food company. After a positive evaluation of the interest of the project for the dairy company,  personal capabilities and compatibility, it is possible that the appointment can be turned into a PhD appointment in which case it will extended by a further three years. Salary range from €2,579 to €3,445 gross per month (pay scale 8 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. For international spouses we have set up a dual career programme. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break. More at https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/working-at/job-application-procedure-and-employment-conditions.  


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


For more information please contact Professor Roeland Merks, email  merksrmh@math.leidenuniv.nl, telephone +31 71 527 7106.


Applications including the vacancy number can be sent no later than 8 March 2019 to sylvius@biology.leidenuniv.nl.


Enquiries from agencies are not appreciated.

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