Thorough insights into how healthy bones are built during embryogenesis and maintained in adult life are key to the development of new anabolic bone therapies, which are much needed for treatment of bone diseases such as osteoporosis and in tissue-engineered applications to overcome compromised fracture healing. The SCEBP Lab studies the genetic and molecular control of bone development, growth, remodeling and repair, and is interested in the contribution of the skeleton to homeostasis and disease in the broader physiological context of the organism. This particular project will focus on the movement and positioning of mesenchymal stem / progenitor cells in bone and the interplay between these cells and their local microenvironment, especially the skeletal vasculature.
The SCEBP Lab is integrated in the Skeletal Biology and Engineering Research Center (SBE), Department of Development and Regeneration, University of Leuven (KU Leuven). We are located on a large Health Science Campus where basic, translational and clinical research is happening side by side. The KU Leuven is consistently ranked within the top of Europe's leading universities and English is the working language for research; for more information visit
This PhD project is positioned within the MSCA-ITN called “Carbon” on controlling cartilage to bone transitions for improved treatment of bone defects and osteoarthritis. This program is integrated in the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme of the European Union. Participation in this network will offer the candidate the opportunity to obtain a PhD degree in the primary host institute as well as perform secondments (research internships) at the premises of other partners, allowing for multidisciplinary training and close collaboration within the network. For more information, see

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Project In this PhDproject, the student will explore the role of specific signaling molecules inthe vascularization of cartilage and recruitment of osteoprogenitors duringendochondral ossification in skeletal development, bone homeostasis andfracture repair, by using both in vitro systems and genetically modified mice.Insights from this research will lead to a better understanding of osteoblastbiology and may have important implications in the future treatment ofnon-healing fractures.

Techniques: This PhD project involves a variety of state-of-the-art techniques, with acentral focus on the use of genetically altered mouse models and reporterstrains expressing fluorescent markers. Mice will be analyzed at various stagesof development and growth, and during bone fracture repair. Analysis methodswill include histology and immunohistochemistry, light and fluorescentmicroscopy, FACS, microCT, molecular biology (including qRT-PCR, Western blot,and possibly RNA-Seq), and in vitro culture assays using cell lines, primarycells, co-culture systems, and tissue explants.

Profile We are looking for a bright and highly motivated student researcher on this project, to join our team of postdoctoral and doctoral researchers, master students and lab technicians. As eligible candidate for this position you have obtained, or are about to obtain, a Master degree with excellent study results and a final grade of at least ‘distinction’(cum laude) in Biomedical Sciences, Biology, Bio-engineering, Biochemistry, Biotechnology, or Pharmaceutical Sciences, or an equivalent diploma. You have a good knowledge of cell and molecular biology, physiology and the basic biomedical research methodologies, and you understand the principles of genetic modification in animal models. You have a strong interest in basic research, excellent experimental skills, a strong enthusiasm to learn and develop new techniques, and a critical mind. Experience in molecular biology, cell culture, histology and working with (genetically modified) mice will be seen as a distinctive advantage. After a training period, you should be able to work both independently and as a team player on your project, to address research questions creatively, to be flexible and work with great precision. Good English communicative skills, both oral and written, are absolutely necessary. Motivated students of all nationalities are invited to apply.

Importantnote on eligibility:

There arestrict eligibility requirements for the ESR PhD positions in MSCA-ITN. Pleaseensure that you qualify before applying, as ineligible candidates cannot beconsidered.

  • Applicantsshould not have resided or performed their main activity (work, studies, etc.)in the country of the host institution for more than 12months in the 3-yearperiod immediately prior to the start date of the PhD research.

  • Applicantsfor the ESR PhD positions should be in the first 4 years (full-time equivalent)of their research careers and not yet have been awarded a doctorate. This4-year period is measured from the date of obtaining the degree that wouldformally entitle to embark on a doctorate.
For moreinformation on MSCA-ITN, visit

Offer We offer aPhD position in a young team, embedded within a larger interdisciplinary andinternational research environment, with a strong commitment to basic andtranslational research. The student will receive help and supervision on theproject at multiple levels, and will be offered numerous possibilities tofurther grow scientifically, including by performing basic and translationalresearch using state-of-the-art techniques, writing papers as first author,participating in international meetings, and joining in the collaborativeendeavors of the MSCA-ITN “CarBon” Network. Doctoral training will includeaffiliation to the Doctoral School of Biomedical Sciences at KU Leuven (see,with the aim to obtain a PhD degree in 4 years. The starting date is flexibleand will be determined in consultation with the selected candidate.

MSCA-ITNand KU Leuven offer an attractive salary and working conditions. Salary iscomplemented with a mobility allowance. A unique feature of MSCA-ITN is thatduring the PhD research, ESR PhD students will be given the opportunity toperform secondments at the facilities of other consortium members. ESR PhDstudents will benefit from a dedicated training program in the various fieldsof expertise of the consortium partners.

Interested? To apply for this position, send your CV and motivation letter to [email protected] Please mention the vacancy reference (CarBon_ESR12) in the subject line.

You can apply for this job no later than December 18, 2016 via the
online application tool

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