PhD Position in Fishing for Neuroreparative Strategies

Catholic University of Leuven

Belgium

The NCDR has a strong interest in defining cellular/molecular mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration, neuroinflammation and regeneration in the eye/visual system of teleost fish and rodents (for more info see: http://bio.kuleuven.be/df/LM/). The quest for neuroprotective and/or regenerative therapies to tackle neurodegenerative disorders and central nervous system (CNS) trauma continues to be a central theme in our research. Despite intensive research efforts, induction of regeneration and subsequent functional recovery of the injured mammalian CNS remains a challenge, which makes the search for new pro-regenerative molecules essential, especially in an aging environment. In contrast to mammals, teleost fish have a remarkable neurogenic and regenerative potential in their adult CNS, already making them a preferred model organism to study the contribution of intrinsic and extrinsic molecular players to successful regeneration. Moreover, over the past decade, several teleost species, such as the zebrafish (Danio rerio) and the African turquoise killifish (Nothobranchius furzeri), have been exploited in gerontology research. They are ideally suited for research into maintaining and/or restoring brain function upon aging and to identify aging mechanisms that might underlie a flawed regeneration in adult mammals. Besides a special interest in defining the role of neuroinflammatory processes in axon regeneration, we study an essential component of the neuronal circuitry overlooked for decades: the dendrites. Based on intriguing findings in zebrafish, we hypothesize an antagonistic interplay between dendritic remodeling and axon regrowth in the damaged fish CNS and are pursuing energy channeling as an underlying mechanism, specifically focusing on mitochondrial dynamics and bioenergetics driving neurite regeneration. Within our aging neurobiology research, we exploit the visual system of the fast-aging killifish to study stem cell exhaustion, neurodegeneration and regeneration, axonal and synaptic integrity/regrowth, de- and remyelination, gliosis and microglial reactivity, and envision drug discovery and target validation activities in the field of healthy brain aging and age-related neurodegenerative diseases. Notably, the retina/retinotectal system forms a robust model since physiological and disease processes occurring in the retina are indicators of similar processes occurring elsewhere in the CNS, and vice versa. To tackle our research questions, we follow a multidisciplinary approach in which advanced in vivo ocular imaging technologies and visual function tests are being combined with detailed morphological phenotyping, using confocal/multiphoton/light-sheet microscopy, optical clearing and time-lapse imaging, and longitudinal and post-mortem morphometrical analyses to follow inflammatory and de/regenerative processes. Besides, ex vivo/in vitro retinal tissue/cell cultures, state-of-the-art opto- & chemogenetic, cell sorting and (single-cell) omics approaches are available to further study the cellular and molecular pathways underlying neuroprotection/regeneration. All research runs within the ‘Vision Core Leuven’, a preclinical animal platform which brings together cutting-edge technologies within the field of ocular imaging, electrophysiology and visual function testing in laboratory animals (see: http://www.visioncore.be/). Within the aforementioned research lines, we are looking for a motivated post-doc willing to supervise the fish-related research.

Responsibilities

  • You will have the opportunity to shape and lead teleost fish regeneration and aging projects. You will be in charge and spearheading this exciting and state-of-the-art research, thus must also have good communication skills and be willing to work as part of a research team. 
  • You will guide students (undergraduate and graduate level) working on similar/complementary projects, and contribute to writing papers, grant proposals and reports. You will report on your research at national and international meetings. You will contribute to the organization of local and international conferences.

Profile

  • You have a PhD degree in Biology, Biochemistry, Bio-engineering, Biophysics, Biomedical Sciences or equivalent, and a proven and successful track record, preferentially with experience in teleost fish biology.You are passionate and motivated to work on ambitious projects in an open, dynamic and scientifically advanced team and not afraid to pioneer or set up novel technologies.
  • You can organise and troubleshoot practical work independently, document it and communicate results and experiences with the team in a collaborative and professional manner.
  • You have good knowledge of the English language, both spoken and written.
  • You have a strong interest in neurobiology – ophthalmology, specifically in neurodegenerative diseases and repair strategies 
  • Basic knowledge of molecular biology, (immuno)histochemistry and microscopy is required
  • Profound hands-on experience with in vivo experiments in (zebra/killi)fish is required
  • Hands-on experience with in in vitro tissue/cell cultures or microfluidic approaches is an asset
  • Hands-on experience with 2-photon imaging and image analysis software is an asset
  • Hands-on experience with omics analyses and any expertise in bioinformatics or statistical modeling is an asset.

Offer

We offer:
  • An exciting working environment where quality, professionalism and human contacts are paramount.
  • The opportunity to be part of a dynamic team and provide a meaningful contribution to the identification of moleculartargets to enhance regenerative growth and reconnection, applicable to neurodegenerative diseases and promotingneural repair.

Financing is available, but an application for a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions Individual Fellowship, Belgian FWO post-doctoral fellowship or equivalent is preferred. 

Interested?

For more information please contact Prof. dr. Lieve Moons, tel.: +32 16 32 39 91, mail: lieve.moons@kuleuven.be or Mrs. Lies De Groef, tel.: +32 16 37 37 64, mail: lies.degroef@kuleuven.be.

Applicants should submit a detailed Curriculum Vitae, a concise letter of motivation and two reference letters to their online application.

You can apply for this job no later than May 10, 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 diversiteit.HR@kuleuven.be.
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: May 10, 2021
  • Tags: Biologie


In your application, please refer to Professorpositions.com

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