PhD Student Position on “Quantitative Hazard Assessment of Persistent, Mobile (Pm) Substances”

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Amsterdam, Netherlands 🇳🇱

Are you a toxicologist/life scientist, who is passionate about environmental research for the protection of human health and the environment? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

FTE: 1


Persistent, mobile (PM) substances are being recognized as serious threats to the safety of drinking water resources. The most notorious example of PM substances are per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), but there are numerous others. This worldwide problem has triggered new policy and monitoring actions and the European Green Deal contains a broad initiative for chemical and water regulations for PM substances. As part of this effort, a new, wide-reaching European Research project called ZeroPM (Zero Pollution of Persistent, Mobile substances) will start in October 2021. ZeroPM will interlink and synergize prevention, prioritization and removal strategies to protect the environment and human health from PM substances.

The successful PhD candidate will develop a hazard assessment toolbox for PM substances based on non-animal in vitro methods. The aim is to determine quantitative toxicity profiles for PM test substances with respect to endocrine disruption, neurotoxicity, developmental toxicity, mutagenicity, immunotoxicity, and cytotoxicity. The hazard assessment toolbox consists of cell-based screening and high-content bioassays and of zebrafish embryo models that are either in place or have to be further developed and optimized for hazard assessment purposes. The PhD candidate will integrate the in vitro toxicity data with human exposure estimates and in vitro-in vivo extrapolation (IVIVE) results provided by collaborating ZeroPM partners. The aim is to prioritize the PM test substances using a risk matrix model to be jointly developed.

The PhD student will be employed at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam (VUA) – Department of Environment and Health (The Netherlands) and be enrolled in VUA’s doctoral programme. The department covers three disciplines, i.e. analytical chemistry, toxicology and epidemiology. Outstanding qualities in the mono-disciplinary cornerstones yield excellent opportunities for multi- and transdisciplinary research and education. Integration leads to greater insight and discoveries and is essential to cover the complete pathway from the source of the contaminants to adverse health outcomes. Within ZeroPM, international collaboration is foreseen in particular with Fraunhofer Institute (Germany) and TG Environmental Research (UK). Come join our team and make a meaningful impact on healthy living.

Your duties

  • Develop, optimize, and execute in vitro, non-animal bioassays for PM substances
  • Integrate the toxicity profiles into a risk matrix, to be developed in close collaboration with project partners
  • Provide regular progress updates at ZeroPM project meetings and group meetings
  • Supervise students doing an internship or literature study within the ZeroPM project
  • Write progress reports, scientific papers, and a PhD thesis


  • MSc degree in life sciences, or similar, with an interest in toxicology
  • familiar with cell culture operations
  • knowledge of and experience with molecular techniques, such as qPCR
  • high energy multi-tasker with exquisite attention to detail
  • ability to work independently and in collaboration with others
  • strong oral and written communication skills in English


A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts €2,434 (PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,111 (PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 4 years.
Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package


The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 7 November 2021.
The anticipated starting date will be as soon of possible.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Dr. ir. Timo Hamers
Position: Associate professor
E-mail: [email protected]
Telephone: 31 20 59 89529


Name: Prof. Dr. Majorie van Duurse
Position: Professor
E-mail: [email protected]
Telephone: 31 20 59 86621

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