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Predoctoral Researcher at University of Ghent

University of Ghent has an opening PhD position in gastroenterology. Applications should be sent before January 31, 2020.

The IBD Research Unit at VIB-UGent Center for Center for Inflammation Research is rooted in the clinical gastroenterology department of Ghent University Hospital and aims to discern and modulate intestinal and extra-intestinal effects of gut inflammation, driving the identification of new therapeutic targets for inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD) and other gut-driven pathologies such as Parkinson's disease. Crohn's disease (CD) is an IBD, characterized by chronic inflammation of the intestine that represents an important personal a societal health problem. While the progression of the disease is heterogeneous, more than 50% of patients will require surgery. Despite the remarkable progress in modulating inflammatory processes in the gut, exemplified by the expanding drug armamentarium for IBD, these drugs seem to have only limited impact on the number of surgeries. The most important indication for surgery is fibrostenosis, caused by the excess deposition of components generated during wound healing, which progressively leads to narrowing of the intestinal lumen and the formation of irreversible strictures. Today, we cannot predict who will develop these strictures, and the current knowledge of molecular mechanisms contributing to gut fibrosis is limited. One of our strategies to increase such knowledge and identify new pathways involved is through functional genetics.

You will be working on a project focusing on the genetic contribution to the development of strictures in CD patients. We recently conducted a well-controlled and replicated genetic study, using strict definitions based on CT scans and pathology reports. As such, we identified associated genetic loci and built a genetic risk score for fibrostenotic CD. Next we aim to identify mutations in candidate genes within these associated loci, perform functional analysis of risk genes in primary effector cells of fibrosis and prospectively test the genetic risk score in newly diagnosed patients to determine its potential as prognostic tool for fibrostenotic CD. This project will combine genetics, animal models and in vitro/ex vivo methods. The direct link with a biobank and clinical samples of all of our patients is a major advantage. In addition, this project is part of a longstanding collaboration between UGent and KULeuven.

You hold a Master’s degree from a European University in Medicine, Biotechnology, Bio-engineering sciences, Biomedical sciences or an equivalent degree.

You have obtained excellent grades during your master training.

Holding a degree in Laboratory Animal Science (Felasa B or C) is a plus.

Please send a detailed CV, a motivation letter and contact information of two referees to debby.laukens@ugent.be.


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