PhD Position on Biomedical Optics

VU University of Amsterdam Department of Physics and Astronomy


We are looking for an enthusiastic candidate with a masters or equivalent degree in (applied) physics or a related field, with a strong interest in biomedical optics. Would you like to work in an international research group in an academic environment? Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

In medicine, the interest in molecular imaging has exploded in the last decade. Direct in vivo molecular imaging will become increasingly important as therapies become more specialized and molecule-specific to the disease. This requires visualizing molecular expression and molecular interaction at the cellular level and imaging in detail tissue structure and function in vivo.

The goal of the NWO-TTW Perspectief program “Medical Photonics - MEDPHOT” is to develop and validate photonics-based imaging technologies that enable earlier diagnosis and better and/or tailored treatment of diseases and translate these technologies to a clinical environment in collaborative projects with clinical opinion leaders in pulmonology, urology, and gastroenterology and industrial partners. Advanced physics concepts based on interferometry and cutting-edge technology will be developed to reach these goals.

Within the MEDPHOT program we focus on the development of hybrid optical technologies for combined structural and molecular specific imaging, including the development of novel catheters and capsules specifically optimized for combined detection. Specifically, at the VU high-end OCT systems will be developed that combine structural with targeted fluorescence imaging, i.e., an integrated immuno-OCT platform. New catheters will be designed for multifunctional imaging based on a double clad fiber design. In close collaboration with UMC Groningen (Prof. Nagengast), these catheters will be tested in pilot studies on patients. Algorithms to extract the scattering and absorbing properties of the tissues as well as the concentration of fluorescent contrast agents from the optical signals, for different tissues, will be developed. Polarization properties of tissue and materials have attracted interest in medicine and in industry. The detection of polarization changes are a prime interest, where these properties will be determined not only in tissue but also in collaboration with ASML in semiconductor materials.


FTE: 1 

Job description

For this project, we are looking for a PhD student who will develop the measurements systems, develop the advanced processing algorithms for polarization properties, polarization mode dispersion and quantitative fluorescence, and perform the data analysis of in vivo human data, as well as measurements on selected wafer samples provided by ASML. The research will be conducted at the VU in Amsterdam, with regular visits to the UMC Groningen. The candidate will be part of a larger group of PhD students that collaborate closely to reach the final goals of the MEDPHOT program, and are embedded in the Biophotonics research group at the VU under supervision of Prof. Dr. J.F. de Boer.

Your duties

  • the PhD student will further develop probes for the esophagus, collaborate on the further design and construction of the measurement systems, and develop an excellent understanding of light propagation principles and processing methods to extract tissue information as part of the MEDPHOT program. In collaboration with ASML, the optical properties of sample wafers will be studied
  • the PhD student will assist in clinical pilot studies by performing the data analysis and interpretation


For this position we are looking for an enthusiastic candidate

  • with a masters or equivalent degree in (applied) physics or a related field, with a strong interest in biomedical optics
  • candidates should have good understanding of optics, have computational skills (Matlab, Labview) and be able to communicate in English both verbally and in writing. The project’s results will be presented on national and international medical and technical conferences and in relevant journals. The successful candidate is expected to write a dissertation leading to a PhD degree towards the end of the 4-year project

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. On full-time basis the remuneration amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €2,395 (PhD) and a maximum €3,061 (PhD), depending on your education and experience. The job profile is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for 1 FTE.

The initial employment contract will affect a period of 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a total duration of 4 years.

Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.


We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science

The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.

About the department of Physics and Astronomy

The Department of Physics and Astronomy at VU Amsterdam offers an active and engaged intellectual community composed of researchers from around the world. Research is focused on four themes: (i) high-energy and gravitational physics, (ii) quantum metrology and laser applications, (iii) physics of life and health, and (iv) physics of photosynthesis and energy. The department is involved in teaching in the programs Physics and Astronomy (joint degree with the University of Amsterdam), Science Business and Innovation, Medical Natural Sciences (all three BSc and MSc), and the BSc program in Mechanical Engineering (together with University of Twente). Furthermore, the department has a strong track record in valorization of its research, including translational research to the clinic (often together with the Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc (on campus) and location AMC), collaborations with industry (e.g. ARCNL), and a thriving startup scene.


Are you interested in this position? Applicants are requested to respond before May, 1 2021 via the application button by uploading the following documents:

  • a letter in which they describe their abilities and motivation
  • accompanied by a detailed curriculum vitae with two or three references
  • a list of grades, TOEFL and/or IETLS scores (if available)
  • and a sample of a written report in English

The job interviews are scheduled to take place between 10 - 14 May 2021, if possible, please take them into account when applying for the position.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions

For additional information about this position, please contact:

Name: Prof. Dr. Johannes de Boer
Position: Chair Biophotonics and Medical Imaging

No agencies

In your application, please refer to


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