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Postdoctoral Researcher: Growing Cancer Organoids in Synthetic Matrices

Posted 18 Jul 2024
Work experience
2 to 4 years
Full-time / part-time
Job function
€3,226 - €5,090 per month
Degree level
Required languages
English (Fluent)
Dutch (Fluent)
29 Aug 2024 00:00

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Progress in cancer biology is hampered by the difficulty to grow them in a realistic environment. The best models currently available are 3D tumour organoids. They are typically grown in animal-derived basement membrane extracts, which suffer from lot-to-lot variability and have a heterogeneous and complex composition, which makes it virtually impossible to systematically map parameters that affect tumour growth or treatment efficacy. To increase our collective knowledge on cancer biology and therapies, improved matrices are urgently needed. This project uses a synthetic biomimetic extracellular matrix, based on synthetic polyisocyanides (PICs). It is animal-free, cost-effective and easy to use.

The ultimate goal is to establish a novel organoid platform for in vitro cancer modelling, personalised medicine and biobanking of patient-derived organoids for drug screenings or toxicology assays. As a proof of concept in this KWF-funded project, we aim to establish a PIC-based head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC) ORGAnoid maTRIX platform, called ORGATRIX.

This project is a close collaboration between Dr Paul Kouwer's group at Radboud University and Dr Marleen Ansems' group at the Radboud university medical center. As a postdoctoral researcher working on this project, you will be expected to work in both labs, which are conveniently located across the street from each other.

In the Kouwer Lab, you will prepare and modify PIC gels using protocols optimised for scientists without a strong materials chemistry background. Organoid cultures will be grown in these different PIC gels in the Ansems Lab. The team will hold biweekly meetings to exchange information, monitor progress and prioritise tasks.

A technician will be available to provide support in the cell biology experiments.


  • You should hold a PhD degree in Cell Biology, Chemistry, Biomaterials, or Immunology.
  • You have experience with cell culture.
  • You have a proven affinity for biomaterials and chemistry.
  • You have good collaborative skills.
  • You are pro-active.
  • You have a good command of spoken and written English.

We are

The Kouwer Lab specialises in the design, preparation and use of soft materials. Our core business is to make hydrogels with biomedical applications. The group consists of chemists who make new materials and new features in existing hydrogels, and cell biologists who use the gels in their experiments. The group is part of the larger Department of Synthetic Organic Chemistry, wherein a number of PIs collaborate and share facilities.

The Ansems Lab is embedded in the Radiotherapy & OncoImmunology (ROI) laboratory at the Department of Radiation Oncology of the Radboud university medical center. The group focuses on understanding molecular and cellular interactions in the tumour microenvironment, aiming to translate our findings into optimal treatment strategies. To achieve this, we utilise a combination of organoid models, preclinical mouse models and human primary tumour tissue.

You will be encouraged to actively participate in networking opportunities at the Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences and the Radboudumc Research Institute for Medical Innovation.

Radboud University

At Radboud University, we aim to make an impact through our work. We achieve this by conducting groundbreaking research, providing high-quality education, offering excellent support, and fostering collaborations within and outside the university. In doing so, we contribute indispensably to a healthy, free world with equal opportunities for all. To accomplish this, we need even more colleagues who, based on their expertise, are willing to search for answers. We advocate for an inclusive community and welcome employees with diverse backgrounds, cultures, and perspectives. Will you also contribute to making the world a little better? You have a part to play.

Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science (FNWI), part of Radboud University, engages in groundbreaking research and excellent education. In doing so, we push the boundaries of scientific knowledge and pass that knowledge on to the next generation.

We seek solutions to major societal challenges, such as cybercrime and climate change and work on major scientific challenges, such as those in the quantum world. At the same time, we prepare our students for careers both within and outside the scientific field.

Currently, more than 1,300 colleagues contribute to research and education, some as researchers and lecturers, others as technical and administrative support officers. The faculty has a strong international character with staff from more than 70 countries. Together, we work in an informal, accessible and welcoming environment, with attention and space for personal and professional development for all.

We offer

  • We will give you a temporary employment contract of 18 months.
  • Your salary within salary scale 10 depends on your previous education and number of years of (relevant) work experience. The amounts in the scale are based on a 38-hour working week.
  • You will receive an 8% holiday allowance and an 8,3% end-of-year bonus.
  • You will be able to use our Dual Career and Family Support Service. The Dual Career Programme assists your partner via support, tools, and resources to improve their chances of independently finding employment in the Netherlands. Our Family Support Service helps you and your partner feel welcome and at home by providing customised assistance in navigating local facilities, schools, and amenities. Also take a look at our support for international staff page to discover all our services for international employees.
  • You will receive extra days off. With full-time employment, you can choose between 30 or 41 days of annual leave instead of the statutory 20.

Additional employment conditions

Work and science require good employment practices. Radboud University's primary and secondary employment conditions reflect this. You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself. For example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports membership. And, of course, we offer a good pension plan. We also give you plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.

De Radboud Universiteit in Nijmegen is een van de beste brede, klassieke universiteiten van Nederland. Gelegen op een groene campus ten zuiden van het stadscentrum van Nijmegen. Onze universiteit wil bijdragen aan een gezonde, vrije wereld met gelijke kansen voor iedereen.
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