PhD Fellowship in Cardiovascular Medicine

Catholic University of Leuven Department of Cardiovascular Sciences


The Department of Cardiovascular Sciences ( brings together research groups in clinical cardiology and surgery, imaging and hemodynamics, and cellular and molecular cardiology, creating a rich environment for basic and translational studies of heart disease. The Department has well equipped lab spaces, with access to advanced facilities for in vivo and ex vivo experimental work. Within the Department, the groups of Profs. Karin Sipido, Llew Roderick, Piet Claus, Rik Willems, and Dr. Eef Dries are collaborating to resolve the mechanisms underlying arrhythmias after myocardial infarction, related to the heterocellular nature of the MI border zone. The project includes in vivo functional and imaging studies, ex vivo work on tissue slices and cellular and molecular studies studies of gene expression and regulation. We now recruit a PhD student to work on tissue and cellular studies within this project, within the Laboratory of Experimental Cardiology (Profs. Karin Sipido, Llew Roderick and Dr. Eef Dries).


Cell-cell interactions and the role of tissue microarchitecture in cardiac arrhythmias after myocardial infarction

Cardiac myocytes in the MI border zone remodel in a highly specific manner predisposing this region to arrhythmias (Dries, Amoni et al., 2020). Myofibroblasts from the MI border zone have a distinct phenotype as well, and interact with cardiac myocytes. In the next step, we investigate the more complex environment,considering all cell types and their interactions, which we uncover using unbiased transcriptomics, to identify key gene networks & signaling. The PhD fellow will validate these findings in functional studies, through experimental manipulation (genetic,pharmacologic) of pathways in myocytes and fibroblasts, in isolated cells and in cardiac slices. The PhD research is under co-supervision of Prof. Llewelyn Roderick and Dr. Eef Dries,as part of the collaborative project.

External funding supports the position and the research. The lab has extensive facilities for functional confocal imaging, electrophysiology and access to large animal models and human tissue samples. The research group has several postdoctoral and doctoral students. The candidate will acquire skills in molecular techniques, functional phenotyping of cells and multicellular tissue preparations (calcium and voltage optical mapping and imaging techniques), as well as single cell patch-clamp and electrophysiology.

The candidate will enroll in the Doctoral School offering further training and complementary skills’ development.

Selected references

Dries E,Amoni M, etal. Altered adrenergic response in myocytes bordering a chronic myocardial infarction underlies in vivo triggered activity and repolarization instability. J Physiol.2020 Jul;598(14):2875-2895. doi: 10.1113/JP278839

NagarajuCK, et al. 2019. Myofibroblast modulation of cardiac myocyte structure and function. Sci Rep, 2019; 9(1):8879.

Watson SA,Terracciano CM, Perbellini F. 2019. Myocardial Slices: an Intermediate Complexity Platform for Translational Cardiovascular Research. Cardiovasc Drugs Ther. 2019 Apr;33(2):239-244.


- You hold a Master degree or equivalent in Biomedical or Life Sciences. In depth knowledge of relevant areas, in particular cardiovascular system and cellphysiology is expected.

- You are flexible, able to work independently and have a problem-solving attitude.

- You are highly motivated to work in a multidisciplinary research team, and have excellent communication skills in English.

- You are expected to write a doctoral thesis within 4 years.


- We offer a fully funded doctoral fellowship

- We provide excellent research facilities and opportunities for broader skill development.

- You will join an enthusiastic, multinational research group.

- KU Leuvenoffers a stimulating environment for international students and support forjunior scientists.


For more information please contact Dr. Eef Dries, tel.: +32 16 37 94 54, or Prof. Dr. Karin Sipido, tel.:+32 16 33 08 15, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than June 21, 2021 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: June 21, 2021
  • Tags: Cardiovasculaire wetenschappen

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