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PhD Position for Assessing the safety of lab-grown dairy proteins – Maastricht University, Jun 2022

The Netherlands

Maastricht University (UM) invites applications for a Ph.D. position project focuses on three different cellular approaches to produce milk proteins, at the NUTRIM – School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism, the Netherlands – Jun 2022

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General Info

Position: PhD Position
No. of Positions: 1
Research Field: , , ,
Deadline to Apply: Expired
Joining Date: Sep 2022
Contract Period: 48 Months
Salary: 2.443 EURO/Month

Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology

Maastricht University (UM), the Netherlands


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Qualification Details

We are looking for a PhD-candidate with the following qualifications

Candidates will be judged on the basis of the requirements outlined below.

  • You completed successfully a Master of Science (MSc) in Biomedical Sciences, Molecular Life Sciences, Chemistry, Food Technology, Food Safety or any related field;
  • You have a solid theoretical background in and affinity with toxicology, biochemistry, and/or food safety;
  • You have hands-on experience (and strong analytical capacity) with standard molecular techniques such as HPLC, GC, PCR, cell culture, RT-PCR, Western blotting and immunocytochemistry;
  • You have a real researcher’s mentality: open-minded, curious, enthusiastic, inquisitive and accurate;
  • You possess strong communication skills in English (fluent at C1 level), including scientific English writing and presenting and who has the ambition to share research outside of regular scholarly activities (such as writing publications);
  • You are a team player enjoying working in a multidisciplinary, international and growing team.

Responsibilities/Job Description

To get our diet within planetary boundaries, a shift towards alternative food systems is urgently needed. Cellular agriculture is a revolutionary approach to produce proteins. The current project focuses on three different cellular approaches to produce milk proteins.  How safe are such cellular production processes and their resulting proteins?  And how well are these novel proteins digested and absorbed?

The growing world population and its increasing demand for sustainable and high-quality food protein has a strong impact on future societal and scientific research topics. The production of animal proteins as sole protein source not only has an enormous environmental impact with its low production efficiency, and raises ethical concerns about the living conditions of cattle. Animal agriculture also has an impact on human health through animal-borne diseases and the use of antibiotics. While 906 million tons of milk were produced in 2020 alone, the scepticism of consumers towards dairy products is rising for the aforementioned reasons. A novel and highly promising alternative approach for the production of dairy proteins is cellular agriculture. This is the production of animal-based proteins from cell cultures using various cell lines, bacteria, yeast, fungi, and microalgae.

Cellular agriculture is a major revolution that will allow us to meet future food protein needs very efficiently and with high sensorial and nutritional quality, while requiring hardly any agricultural land. However, not much is known about the safety of the cellular production processes as well as the resulting novel proteins, so the basis for future investment decisions is unclear. Therefore, the present project will focus on toxicologically assessing these novel dairy proteins produced by cellular agriculture.

We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD candidate to analyse the safety of novel functional proteins which are ingredients for the next generation of dairy alternatives. The research will involve toxicological studies from in vitro to in silico with regards to various end points of the cellular milk proteins in order to assess their safety. This will contribute to safe ingredients for the next generation dairy alternatives. The PhD position will be based at Maastricht University in the department of Pharmacology & Toxicology in collaboration with the department Food Claims Centre Venlo.

The position is funded by the NWO project Protein 2.0, with co-funding from a large number of international companies. The aim of this project is to investigate the potential of new protein sources, produced through three techniques: tissue engineered milk, precision fermentation derived milk proteins and single cell proteins. The project is focused on exploring the bottlenecks that currently hinder affordable large-scale production, including protein quality, mild downstream processing, but also EU legislation and safety. The project is a collaboration with Wageningen University, Utrecht University and Hogeschool van Hall Larenstein.

How to Apply?

Application Method: Send Email
Ref. No.: AT2022.249

Application Procedure

Applications should include a motivation letter (of approximately 1 A4), and a curriculum vitae with contact details of two references.

Send your application, stating the vacancy number AT2022.249, by email to:[email protected]

Maastricht University is committed to promoting and nurturing a diverse and inclusive community. We believe that diversity in our staff and student population contributes to the quality of research and education at UM, and strive to enable this through inclusive policies and innovative projects led by teams of staff and students. We encourage you to apply for this position.

About the Department

NUTRIM - School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism 

NUTRIM School of Nutrition and Translational Research in Metabolism initiates and catalyzes translational research into nutritional health benefits and risks focusing on metabolic and chronic inflammatory diseases. Through its research master and PhD program NUTRIM aims to educate scientists of high academic excellence and ambassadors to support and develop the field of nutrition, metabolism and toxicology within and outside the Netherlands. Sixteen biomedical, clinical, and behavioural-science departments are incorporated within NUTRIM

More information:

Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology

This project is situated within the Department of Pharmacology & Toxicology where a multidisciplinary team of biologists, chemists and toxicologists is working together to address mechanisms by which chemicals and oxidative stress alter cellular processes to cause diseases and study the way in which intervention is possible. To reach these goals, the department's laboratory is well equipped with facilities for chemical analysis including mass spectrometry (MS) and electron spin resonance (ESR), the analysis of DNA damage and multiple state-of-the-art molecular biological techniques.

About the Employer:

Conditions of Employment

Fixed-term contract: 48 months.

Before the end of the first year, an evaluation takes place and a go-no go decision will be taken for the other three years. Each year an evaluation will take place.

Your salary would be € 2.443,- gross per month in the first year up to € 3.122,- gross per month in the fourth year according to the PhD-candidate salary scale. An 8% holiday and an 8.3% year-end allowance is also provided.

The terms of employment of Maastricht University are set out in the Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO). Furthermore, local UM provisions also apply. For more information look at the website > About UM > Working at UM.

The first round of interviews is scheduled to take place on June 28th.Preferable Start: September 2022.

To apply at this vacancy, press the button ‘apply now’ to see the application procedure.

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Contact details

Additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from:

Dr. Misha Vrolijk: [email protected] Dr. Alie de Boer: [email protected]

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