PhD on the development of an early detection test for pre-eclampsia (1.0 FTE)

rug university groningen
  • Groningen
  • University of Groningen
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Applications are invited for one 4-year PhD study, in the research group of Dr F. Bianchi part of the Molecular Immunology group (Groningen Biomolecular Sciences and Biotechnology Institute - The PhD study entails a close collaboration with Dr J.R. Prins part of the reproductive immunology group at the University Medical Centre Groningen. The successful applicant will work on a multidisciplinary project aimed at developing a prognostic test for Preeclampsia.

During pregnancy, the maternal immune system adapts to tolerate the fetus. Insufficient tolerance is linked to preeclampsia, an inflammatory condition affecting 5-10% of pregnancies, leading to maternal and neonatal mortality and morbidity. Preeclampsia is often diagnosed late, usually resorting to early delivery with frequently detrimental consequences for the fetus.

Early prediction of preeclampsia is hard due to the absence of clear symptoms and lack of reliable early biomarkers for disbalances in the T-cell populations. To address this, this project aims to create a robust prognostic test. This test will quantitatively measure the maternal inflammatory response to paternal Major Histocompatibility Complex (MHC) molecules early in pregnancy due to T-cell disbalances, which together with the T cell fitness is a predictor for complicated pregnancy such as preeclampsia.

Particularly, the candidate will:

• determine maternal T cell responses against isolated fetal / paternal MHC molecules
• identify abnormal expression of immune checkpoints in T-regs and T-effs from peripheral blood of preeclamptic women as candidate prognostic markers
• determine combined prognostic value of checkpoint markers and MHC probes in preeclampsia.

PhD candidates will receive excellent training through cutting-edge research projects, advanced courses and training opportunities, complemented by workshops on generic research, transferable skills and teaching. As a PhD candidate, you are committed to conduct independent and original scientific research, to report on this research in international publications and presentations, and to present the results of the research in a PhD dissertation, to be completed within 4 years. PhD candidates are expected to contribute 10% of their overall workload to teaching.

This project is supported by and part of the Health Technology Research and Innovation Cluster (HTRIC). The Health Technology Research and Innovation Cluster is rethinking the future of healthcare. We bring academic research, health technology, and clinical practice together to tackle the challenges faced by today’s healthcare system. Our aspiration? More healthy years of life for the people around us!

Through our research, we will foster new developments that support healthy aging and longevity while improving people’s quality of life and making healthcare more efficient. We focus on the entire innovation chain, from societal and clinical demands to groundbreaking innovations and first-in-human applications.

We aim to speed up innovation through the interplay of knowledge development, health technology development, and business development. By linking researchers, businesses, and external professionals, we want to develop technologies that will continue to improve and transform our healthcare system. This is what HTRIC stands for.

Founded in 1614, the University of Groningen ( enjoys an international reputation as a dynamic and innovative center of higher education offering high-quality teaching and research. Flexible study programmes and academic career opportunities in a wide variety of disciplines encourage the 36,000 students and researchers alike to develop their own individual talents. As one of the best research universities in Europe, the University of Groningen has joined forces with other top universities and networks worldwide to become a truly global center of knowledge.

This is a collaborative project between the Department of Molecular Immunology at the Faculty of Science and Engineering (FSE), and the Department of Obstetrics at the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG -

City of Groningen:

Ole Gmelin

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Will you become our new PhD on the development of an early detection test for pre-eclampsia (1.0 FTE)? Apply at University of Groningen