Universiteit Leiden

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PhD position in the Oncode Accelerator Project

Omvang (fte)
Geplaatst op
26 maart 2024
5 april 2024 Vacature gesloten

The Faculty of Science and Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR) are looking for candidates for a

PhD Position in the Oncode Accelerator Project(1.0 fte)
Vacancy number 14691

PhD Position in the Oncode Accelerator Artificial Intelligence Platform

Oncode Accelerator is a public-private partnership that is funded by the Dutch National Growth Fund (NGF). The NGF invests 325 million euros in supporting the initial eight years of the program. The program aims to innovate and accelerate the development of new cancer therapies to address unmet medical needs. Oncode Accelerator is a collaboration of more than 30 public and private partners. In Oncode Accelerator, we leverage the full potential of the Dutch innovation ecosystem by building development pipelines for four of the most common types of cancer therapies: Small Molecules, Biologics, Cell and Gene Therapies, and Therapeutic Vaccines. On top of that we utilize the power of three innovation platforms: Well-defined Patient Cohorts, Organoid Models and Artificial Intelligence (more information: https://www.oncodeaccelerator.nl/).

The overarching aim of the AI-platform is to develop and use human centered, hybrid Artificial Intelligence (AI) methods to accelerate the discovery and development of innovative anti-cancer drugs. The universities of Leiden, Nijmegen, and Delft combined with the university medical centers of Utrecht and Groningen, the Netherlands Cancer Institute, and Oncode Institute have joined forces with (inter)national pharmaceutical and biotech companies to form a multidisciplinary public-private consortium. The goal is to develop and apply hybrid AI technologies with the ultimate outcome to bring new drugs faster to patients, thereby creating impact by increasing the quality of life of cancer patients, reducing health care cost and boosting economic activity.

In this PhD project, in collaboration with the Radboud University, we will use in silico methods to use tools from the world of artificial intelligence and cheminformatics (e.g. proteochemometrics) to understand small molecules mode of action (with an initial focus on kinase inhibitors). Model predictions will be experimentally validated.

Key responsibilities

  • Conduct original and novel research in AI and cheminformatics
  • Publish and present scientific articles at international journals and conferences;
  • Contribute to educational activities;
  • Write a dissertation;
  • Engage in collaborations with colleagues across domains

Selection criteria

  • A MSc degree in Computer Science, AI, (Computational) chemistry, Biopharmaceutical Sciences, or a relevant related field;
  • Good knowledge of and experienced with AI techniques;
  • Good knowledge of and experienced with Computational chemistry;
  • Highly motivated to both perform foundational research and apply the developed methods to real-world problems;
  • Creative, ‘making things work’ mentality, independent, and communicative team player;
  • Experienced with writing scientific manuscripts and good academic writing skills;
  • Excellent programming skills (preferably C++ and/or Python);
  • Interested in participating in educational activities;
  • Excellent proficiency in English (oral and written).

Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research
The division of Drug Discovery and Safety (DDS) is part of the Leiden Academic Centre for Drug Research (LACDR). Our institute is a centre of excellence for multidisciplinary research on drug discovery and development. Leiden University consistently ranks within the top-20 world-wide within the subject-based QS Ranking in Pharmacology and Pharmacy. At LACDR, we develop innovative scientific concepts in fundamental and translational research underlying the discovery and optimization of drugs, and personalised medicines. We aim to optimise the route to novel drugs that are both efficacious and safe, and therefore our research focuses on drug discovery and safety, bio-therapeutics, and systems biomedicine and pharmacology. State-of-the-art expertise and infrastructures ensure that we are strategically positioned in (inter)national collaborations, thus further strengthening the development of novel concepts and their application in a clinical and industry environment.

Computational Drug Discovery
Research in this group, headed by Gerard van Westen, focusses on computational methods integrated in different parts of the drug discovery process. More specifically, topics include innovative treatments for cancer, selectivity modeling, translational research, allosteric modulation, drug resistance modeling, and novel methods in the domain of machine learning. For more information see: https://www.cddl.nl

Research at our faculty
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 diverse, ranging from artificial intelligence, computer science, mathematics, astronomy, physics, chemistry and bio-pharmaceutical sciences to biology and environmental sciences. 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.For more information, see https://www.science.leidenuniv.nl.

The city of Leiden
Leiden University is one of Europe's foremost research universities. Leiden is a lively and beautiful city with a central location in Europe, at only 17 minutes from Schiphol International Airport. It is a very international city where almost everybody speaks English, candidates need not be afraid of the language barrier. Leiden is a typical historic university city, hosting the oldest university in the Netherlands (1575). The University permeates the local surroundings; University premises are scattered throughout the city, and the students who live and study in Leiden give the city its relaxed yet vibrant atmosphere. Today, with some 27,000 students, 5,500 staff, 16 Nobel prizes, more than 100 nationalities and a budget of more than 550 million Euros, it is one of the largest comprehensive universities in Europe. This prominent position gives our graduates a leading edge in applying for academic posts and for functions outside academia.

Terms and conditions

We offer a full-time appointment of initially one year. After a positive evaluation of the progress of the research, teaching evaluations, personal capabilities and compatibility, the appointment will be extended for another three years. You will be appointed in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities. The salary ranges from € 2.770,- per month in the first year to € 3.539,- gross per month in the fourth year based on a full-time position (pay scale P).

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. Candidates from outside the Netherlands may be eligible for a substantial tax break.

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.

Diversity and work-life balance
Leiden University is strongly committed to diversity within its community and especially welcomes applications from members of underrepresented groups. LACDR is a highly diverse institute, in culture, background, and gender. We stand for excellence in a caring Institute. We wish to reflect society in all aspects, as we believe that this improves the dynamics in our organization. Therefore, we support and understand the need for a work/life/family balance and consequent varying working hours and places. We believe that doing good science is fun, and goes hand in hand with a friendly culture. In the Netherlands, a maternity allowance is standard for 16 weeks. Childcare is available at and near the Bio Science Park.

Inquiries about the research area can be made to Prof. Gerard van Westen <gerard@lacdr.leidenuniv.nl>. If you have any questions about the procedure, please contact Nicole van Zaal < n.van.zaal@lacdr.leidenuniv.nl >

To apply for this vacancy, please submit your application online via the blue button in the vacancy. Please ensure that you include the following additional documents all quoting the vacancy number:

  • application letter,
  • curriculum vitae,
  • a list of grades
  • two references (who have agreed to be contacted),

Only applications received no later than April 5th, 2024 can be considered. The selection procedure will take place in April 2024, and selected candidates may be invited for an interview in this period, during which you are kindly requested to be available.

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