PhD student | Lesions and atrophy development in treated Multiple Sclerosis

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Tijdelijk dienstverband
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Your challenge

Your main tasks and responsibilities as a PhD candidate are:

  • Apply advanced image analysis techniques to quantify changes in lesions and atrophy over time, including their anatomical patterns, and how these are related to treatment and to conversion to clinically definite MS;
  • Apply machine learning and other techniques to identify early predictors of treatment efficacy;
  • Apply and evaluate imaging and analysis methods for quantification of brain atrophy and brain lesions in multi-scanner and multi-center setups;
  • Contribute to the department’s teaching activities;
  • Report findings in peer-reviewed papers and at conferences.

Your profile

We are looking for a candidate with the following qualities:

  • You hold a medical doctor’s degree or an MSc degree in (bio)medical science, medical natural sciences or equivalent;
  • You are an honors student with an excellent track record;
  • Experience with (neuro)imaging is preferred;
  • Knowledge of, or experience with MRI analysis and/or acquisition software and systems is an advantage;
  • Mastering the Dutch language is an added bonus, but not compulsory;
  • You have a positive, flexible attitude, combined with team spirit.

Your work environment

The MS Center Amsterdam, part of Amsterdam UMC, is one of the world’s leading centers for research and care in multiple sclerosis (MS) and a tertiary referral center. Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) plays an important role in diagnosis and research in MS. In many of the multi-disciplinary research projects, MRI is an important component.

You will be employed in the Department of Radiology and Nuclear Medicine, section Imaging Methodology Group (head: Prof.dr. R. Boellaard). You will be based in the Structural Brain Imaging Group led by Hugo Vrenken, which focuses on quantifying structural changes in the brain and spinal cord in MS and different types of dementia. In addition to pursuing clinical research questions to unravel the pathological changes in MS and AD, we develop and validate new methods, and attempt to facilitate transfer of research imaging methods to a clinical setting. A large part of our research concerns the analyses of the images once they have been obtained. Your project is supervised jointly by prof.dr. Frederik Barkhof and dr. Vrenken.

Your PhD project focuses on focal brain lesions and brain atrophy in early MS. Patients with multiple sclerosis (MS) develop focal abnormalities (lesions) in which inflammation, demyelination, axonal damage and ultimately the formation of gliotic scar tissue take place. These lesions are the pathological hallmark of MS and detecting them on magnetic resonance (MR) images plays an important role in diagnosis, as well as in establishing efficacy of treatments. In addition to lesions, MS patients suffer from degeneration of tissue in the brain and spinal cord. This can be observed and measured on in vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) as loss of brain volume, which is commonly referred to as atrophy. As yet, the neurodegenerative component of the disease cannot be halted, and brain atrophy continues progressively over the course of the disease. However, some treatments have been shown to reduce the atrophy rate in MS.
In your project you will work on two main goals. First, using a unique multi-center trial dataset of early MS patients under treatment with frequent MR imaging, you will study development of focal lesions and atrophy, as well as how these are related. Second, by leveraging the unique MRI setup available at the MS Center Amsterdam and the new VUmc Imaging Center as well as ongoing international multi-site collaborations, you will contribute to implementation and validation of reliable clinical measurements of brain lesions and atrophy in MS.

We offer

Salary Scale PHD: 2357 tot 3020 euro gross when employed full-time (depending on qualifications and experience).

For candidates who hold a medical doctor’s degree we offer salary scale: 10 (2750 till 4361 euro based on a 36 hour week).

In addition to a good base salary, we offer, amongst others, an 8.3% end-of-year bonus and 8% holiday pay. For more information on our fringe benefits, please see our benefits.

We offer an initial contract for one year that can be extended (after evaluation) for another 3 years.

Additional information

As of July 1st 2018, Dutch residents who will start working at VU University Medical Center will have to hand in a VOG before starting work. You need to have an DigID to be able to apply for a VOG.


Don’t hesitate to call us!
If you’re interested about this position, you can contact Hugo Vrenken, via telephone number contactinformatie .
If you need more information about the application procedure, contact Brend de Jong, corporate recruiter at contactinformatie .

You can apply till 3 February 2019 by using the apply button.

Acquisition based on this vacancy is not appreciated.

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