Have you recently successfully defended your doctorate degree in engineering or science? Do you wish to expand your career opportunities by doing a post doctorate?

Available Jobs

MSCA-IF-2020 call: PostDoc Fractionation and monitoring of extracellular vesicles with inflammatory biomarkers.

Mol
Postdoc
Description: 

Research challenge:
Lipid membrane-packed extracellular vesicles (EVs) released by living cells are able to transfer their molecular cargo to recipient cells, which is accompanied by the reprogramming of the recipient cell functions. The release of EVs in the different body fluids in health and disease thus represents a biologically significant communication system, rendering them a promising tool for early detection and monitoring of diseases. The presence of EV-associated inflammation biomarkers and their link with underlying inflammatory processes in cardiovascular, neurological and immune diseases, cancer, and infection has been established. In conditions of serious illness the continuous and sensitive monitoring of inflammation biomarkers can be life-saving. 

A novel technology for continuous biomarker monitoring based on Particle Mobility Sensing (PMS) with single-molecule resolution is being developed by Eindhoven University of Technology and spin-off company Helia Biomonitoring. The technology allows for detection of mobility changes of micron-sized particles conjugated with specific affinity molecules for the targeted biomarkers [Visser et al., Nat Commun (2018) 9(1): 2541]. Assays for detection of inflammatory biomarkers are presently being developed on the PMS platform. In this IF project, the in-line sample fractionation system for EV isolation will be combined with PMS in order to study the feasibility of continuous EV-based inflammatory biomarker monitoring.

Approach:
The project will focus on developing a filter membrane-based column combining size selectivity with affinity for isolation of small EV subsets (50-150 nm), which can be directly coupled with the PMS platform. This fractionation system will initially be optimized using reference vesicles (synthetic liposomes and/or recombinant cell-derived EVs) spiked in buffer. Next, tests will be run with EVs secreted by a well-defined in vitro cell culture system showing reproducible inflammatory marker release kinetics after external stimulation (e.g. endothelial cell line stimulated with bacterial endotoxin to evoke an inflammatory response), and finally, with reference EVs spiked in plasma samples derived from different healthy donors to simulate real-life user conditions. System parameters (e.g. flow rate, column volume, membrane pore size, surface functionalization, etc) will be evaluated by assessing quantitative and qualitative aspects of the isolated EV fractions using state-of-the art methods (e.g. nanoparticle tracking analysis, western blot, transmission electron microscopy, small-particle flow cytometry). Inflammatory cytokine levels will be determined on intact versus lysed EV fractions using antibody arrays and/or ELISA as benchmarking technologies. Finally, proof-of-concept measurements will be performed with the PMS technology coupled to in-line fractionation of EVs to demonstrate the detection of 1 or 2 selected EV-associated inflammation markers in human plasma.

With this call, we invite researchers to submit their resumé (including track-record) and a one-page project description, that will be the basis for selecting candidates with whom we will collaborate for developing competitive MSCA-IF proposals.

 

Deadline application to VITO: Interested candidates should submit their resume (incl. track record) and a one-page note describing the project for which a Marie Curie grant will be applied, before Friday 17 April 2020 - 17h Brussels time.

 

Deadline MSCA-IF 2020: Wednesday 9 September 2020 17h Brussels time.

 

MSCA-IF-2020 call: PostDoc Genomics in Clinical Practice

Mol
Postdoc
Description: 

The term “precision medicine” is coined to define health and disease on the individual level in great detail, in an effort to maintain health and prevent/delay the onset of disease(s). The crucial aspect in this endeavor is to be able to collect diverse and meaningful longitudinal data for each individual to define systemically, health and disease by assessing both genetic and environmental factors as well as the interactions among them. The central hypothesis of precision medicine is if we can map these factors on the individual level we can come up with tailored therapies for this individual.


Challenge:

So the ideal of precision medicine highly depends on accurately assessing the unique features that separates this individual from his/her peers. In practice however, clinical tests ( offered by professional accredited labs) are designed with the purpose to diagnose diseased individuals from healthy individuals. The first technology that is mature enough to become part of daily clinical practice is personal genome. If genomics and clinical lab. tests are integrated correctly, it has the potential to impact on every aspect of clinical practice where clinical laboratory tests are used including preventative measures, diagnosis, therapy to interpretation of the results of clinical trials.

Approach:

In this state-of-the-art project we are going to integrate genomics level differences across individuals with the clinical level data, with the aim of interpreting the clinical laboratory tests more accurately taking genomic differences in to account. For this purpose we are going to use a unique longitudinal dataset (including 100+ monthly clinical lab tests and Next Generation Sequencing [NGS]) collected via the “I am Frontier” pilot cohort at VITO and other cross sectional datasets available.

With this call, we invite researchers to submit their resumé (including track-record) and a one-page project description, that will be the basis for selecting candidates with whom we will collaborate for developing competitive MSCA-IF proposals. 

 

Deadline application to VITO: Interested candidates should submit their resume (incl. track record) and a one-page note describing the project for which a Marie Curie grant will be applied, before Friday 17 April 2020 17h Brussels time.

Deadline MSCA-IF 2020: Wednesday 9 September 2020 17h Brussels time.

 

 

 

MSCA-IF-2020 call: PostDoc Clinical application of small-particle flow cytometry in extracellular vesicle-based diagnostics

Mol
Postdoc
Description: 

Research challenge:
Extracellular vesicles (EVs) are a promising source of diagnostic biomarkers for a range of diseases. A key challenge for EV-based diagnostics is the heterogenous nature of EVs - biological fluids contain a mixture of vesicles originating from different cell types and produced via various biological mechanisms. In many cases only a small fraction of the EV population contains clinically relevant biomarkers. This limits the usefulness of bulk analytical methods which only measure averaged characteristics of the EV population.

In contrast, single-particle measurements which can directly provide information about rare sub-populations of EVs hold great promise. Flow cytometry is one such approach, potentially allowing the robust and quantitative measurement of EV number, size, and per-particle surface marker expression with a wide dynamic range with high throughput. However, the small size of EVs and low abundance of surface biomarkers challenges conventional flow cytometry approaches, leading to the development of vesicle-specific instruments, assays and protocols.

Approach:
To enable the translation of small-particle flow cytometry into the clinical diagnostics laboratory, standardization of the EV analysis workflows is required. This includes calibration procedures and materials, as well as control experiments to confirm the vesicular nature of the detected events and assay the contribution of non-vesicular contaminants. Furthermore, the small size of EVs means that only a small number of antigens is present per particle. Their detection thus requires high sensitivity, demanding the combination of brighter and more stable fluorescent dyes, high-quality affinity probes and optimized labelling protocols.

These key technical issues will be tackled in the proposed project using the BD FACS Celesta SORP system recently acquired by VITO. The novel workflows will be demonstrated for their applicability in cancer patient-derived clinical samples and compared to baseline EV profiles in healthy donor samples. Sample collections will be obtained from a local hospital in close collaboration with clinicians, who will also act as future end-users.

With this call, we invite researchers to submit their resumé (including track-record) and a one-page project description, that will be the basis for selecting candidates with whom we will collaborate for developing competitive MSCA-IF proposals.

 

Deadline application to VITO: Interested candidates should submit their resume (incl. track record) and a one-page note describing the project for which a Marie Curie grant will be applied, before Friday 17 April 2020 - 17h Brussels time.

 

Deadline MSCA-IF 2020: Wednesday 9 September 2020 17h Brussels time.

MSCA-IF-2020 call: Postdoc Machine Learning methods for Probabilistic Forecasting in Energy Applications

Genk
Postdoc
Description: 

Research challenge:
Current state-of-the-art approaches for probabilistic forecasting are either incapable of considering time-correlation, or make use of (too) rough assumptions about the Gaussian character of the involved stochastic disturbances. The research challenge is to develop performant and accurate probabilistic forecasting methods that overcome these drawbacks and use novel stochastic Machine Learning (ML) techniques to capture time-correlation without resorting to approximations, tackling the difficulties of scenario-based forecasting. Such ML techniques may include Deep Learning Networks, Neural Processes, Approximate Bayesian Inference, Hybrid Models etc.

 

Approach:
To be most efficient, the selected candidate will develop of these techniques focusing on the challenges emerging in a specific and particularly innovation driven domain of smart management and operation of low voltage distribution grids. In practice, these techniques will include novel beyond-state-of-the-art stochastic forecasting methods that can support the construction of live-scale, accurately finetuned and reliably robust digital twin (statistical simulation models) that capture the electrical aspects of the low voltage distribution grid. From the point-of-view of the distribution network operator, this approach tackles the most urgent challenges caused by the energy transition (electric vehicles, distributed electricity production, residential demand response, etc.), and has the added advantage of a high valorisation potential.

With this call, we invite researchers to submit their resumé (including track-record) and a one-page project description, that will be the basis for selecting candidates with whom we will collaborate for developing competitive MSCA-IF proposals.

• Collaborations
The need and opportunity for collaboration with other research institutions and with relevant partners in industry will certainly emerge and are even a necessity. This can potentially result in secondments at the premises of one or more such partners. Collaboration with Belgian and European DSO’s will probably turn out to be of the highest importance for relevant data-access.

• Deadline application to VITO
Interested candidates should submit their resume (incl. track record) and a one-page note describing the project for which a Marie Curie grant will be applied, before Friday 17 April 2020 17h Brussels time.

 

Deadline MSCA-IF 2020: Wednesday 9 September 2020 17h Brussels time.

VITO contact details:
Dr. Koen Vanthournout
Unit ETE / Group AMO / VITO - EnergyVille
VITO: Boeretang 200, 2400 Mol, Belgium NV (Headquarters)
EnergyVille 1: Thor Park 8310, 3600 Genk, Belgium (place of work)
tel: +32 14 33 59 16

 

MSCA-IF-2020 call: Postdoc EO data for climate adaptation of cropping systems

Mol
Postdoc
Description: 

The global challenge of food security is to balance increased agricultural production with environmental concerns and climate resilience. Unravelling these grand challenges necessitates an understanding of constraints, synergies and trade-offs in crop production at different spatio-temporal scales. Crop monitoring and modelling have played a crucial role in our understanding of this triple challenge, for example through the analysis of crop yield gaps and climate vulnerability of particular regions. Much less understood are the often devastating impacts of extreme weather events that can be attributed to climate change.
Soil has an important capacity to regulate water supply, and may help crop resilience to climate extremes. Extreme weather impacts of both excess rainfall and drought could be buffered with increased soil water retention capacity to govern the dynamics between runoff, infiltration, storage, evapotranspiration, drainage and percolation. Improved knowledge of soil-crop interactions enables more accurate simulations of crop growth dynamics and yields across a wide range of environments, and in turn may further contribute to improved knowledge of soil and crop processes, including crop yield, carbon and nitrogen dynamics and greenhouse gas emissions.
Digital agriculture is known to boost knowledge and yields, reduce inputs and investment and increase resilience to risks such as changing weather and price volatility. Characterisation of different events that influence the soil-crop interaction during crop growth development can be achieved through data mining of remote sensing images that have become available at unprecedented temporal, spatial and spectral scales with the advent of Europe’s Copernicus program of Earth observation. The research hypothesis is that soil characteristics, major field operations and crop development can be detected across a regional scale, and that these inputs can improve the quantification of soil-crop processes to elucidate climate resilience in terms of combined adaptation and mitigation measures.

With this call, we invite researchers to submit their resumé (including track-record) and a one-page project description, that will be the basis for selecting candidates with whom we will collaborate for developing competitive MSCA-IF proposals.
 
• Collaborations
Possible collaborations are envisaged with the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Faculty of BioScience Engineering, University of Leuven.

• Deadline application to VITO
Interested candidates should submit their resume (incl. track record) and a one-page note describing the project for which a Marie Curie grant will be applied, before Friday 17 April 2020 17h Brussels time.

Contact details: anne.gobin@vito.be

• Deadline MSCA-IF 2020
Wednesday 9 September 2020 17h Brussels time.

MSCA-IF-2020 call: PostDoc How material passports and blockchain enable information travelling across the value chain in a circular and digital economy

Mol
Postdoc
Description: 

In a CE, materials and products are reused as much as possible through recycling, repair, refurbishment and sharing of products and materials. However, a lack of data concerning the usage history and physical state of the products (or its components) and materials and sharing of data between the different partners of the value chain, often hinders the uptake of these CE strategies. Especially because of reluctance to share (sensitive) data among value chain actors, a blockchain can address the data-related issues as it allows to access other value chain actor’s data without revealing each other’s identity. In short, blockchains store data on the transaction of products, and data on the product itself in a distributed ledger, a system widely accepted for its data accuracy and data authenticity. In case the blockchain technology is combined with track and trace technology (e.g. monitoring or sensor technology), the blockchain can provide a means to guarantee the trustworthiness of the product data and ensure a link between the physical product and the accompanying data. As such, blockchain can assist in determining the (geographic) location, physical condition, track record of defects & repairs, and ownership status of materials, products, or products parts in the value chain.

The disclosure of this information is essential in order to allow the transactions within a circular economy which would previously be hindered by a lack of data. It is still to be investigated how this information should be processed and disclosed in real-time in order to allow optimal steering of circular transactions. At present, the circular economy struggles with these kind of questions, and often needs a middleman to answer them. This however increases the number of parties involved in the circular value chain and hence increases a circular system’s complexity and cost. The implementation of blockchain technology can avoid the introduction of the additional layers in the circular value chain (i.e. the role of middlemen) in case the blockchain technology can provide the necessary information to efficiently answer the repair or replace question.

Expectations:
The goal of the envisaged project is three(four)fold:

1. Identify potential circular economy innovations (business cases) which are currently complicated due to a lack of trust during the transaction phases, or currently rely upon the intervention of a middlemen;
2. Assess the potential of  blockchain as enabler of the endangered circular transactions, or reduce complexity by decreasing the need for a middle-men as transaction facilitator;
3. Assess the potential of a kind of automated circular decision making tool: the tool will make use of blockchain technology to distribute (e.g. sensory) data among the involved parties in a circular value chain. Artificial Intelligence will then be applied in order to automate the decision making, based upon the gathered data. Once the potential of these tools is analyzed, the project will investigate to what extent this kind of innovations will disrupt the current value chains and create new business model opportunities.
4. If deemed relevant for the research: Conclude a first estimate of the environmental impact of a blockchain driven circular innovation, balancing the environmental gains of increased circularity and environmental costs related to for example the energy use of the blockchain itself.


With this call, we invite researchers to submit their resumé (including track-record) and a one-page project description, that will be the basis for selecting candidates with whom we will collaborate for developing competitive MSCA-IF proposals.
 
• Collaborations
Discussions are running.

• Deadline application to VITO
Interested candidates should submit their resume (incl. track record) and a one-page note describing the project for which a Marie Curie grant will be applied, before Friday 17 April 2020 17h Brussels time.


• Deadline MSCA-IF 2020
Wednesday 9 September 2020 17h Brussels time.

MSCA-IF-2020 call: PostDoc How digital twins for improving design, production and processes, enable service-based business models in a circular and digital economy.

Mol
Postdoc
Description: 

The production of materials, components and final products can be energy- and resource-intensive and lead to significant amounts of waste. Digital tools can optimize processes by preventing waste and emissions and reducing energy and resource consumption, both during production and the use-phase. Digital twin, a digital replica of a physical entity, provides both the elements and the dynamics of how an Internet of things device operates and lives throughout its life cycle. It is the idea to set a digital twin already at design phase and use it for assisting towards more sustainable/circular products over its full life span. 

Also during use phase, the product is still connected with the digital twin. So that real life data produced by the sensors are processed. For the company, it is essential to keep track of the usage-history and performance of the leased items, or performance of some essential components, for a few reasons:

- Correct misuse: misuse can result in early defects and increased costs for the leasing company. Examples of misuse are putting too much clothes in a washing machine or using too much detergent;
- Anticipated replacements: some components need to be replaced once they are used a number of times in order to avoid defects of these components, and possibly collateral damage to other components. E.g. replace a washing machine’s suspension after YY washing rounds.
- In case of an unexpected defect, data-based decisions can best determine whether it is worthwhile to repair the leased items, or instead replace them.
Real-time, and on-distance, monitoring of the usage, and the performance of the items (components) can help to determine the optimal timing for the replacement of essential components. Machine learning algorithms can provide economic gains for the leasing companies in case they can further optimize the process of anticipated replacements, and determine the correct use pattern for the leased items. In the end, this must increase the lifetime of the leased items. In case of defects, the monitoring of the usage history, and track record of potential other defects, can assist in the complex repair or replace decisions to be made. Also in this case, the goal is to extend the items’ lifetime keeping in mind the profitability of the leasing companies. 

This operation model can only function optimally in a service-oriented business models such as product service systems. In private lease, the leasing company (which potentially, but not necessarily, is also the producer of the appliance/vehicle) remains owner of the appliance.
Expectations:
In close collaboration with the leasing company and the partners, the post doc will:

- Develop a digital twin for a product at design phase
- Identify what information needs to be monitored during the use phase in order to harness data at the source of data
- Develop AI methods for detecting misuse or automotive and predictive maintenance
- Translate information monitoring into useful advice for technicians in the field and towards service-oriented business models, including potential end-of-life decisions (e.g. repair a broken device or dispose, dismantle and recover materials and components)
- Derive learning and compare with case 2 outcomes, for example by means of a twin network to create a valuable ecosystem.
As such, the post doc aims to contribute to the further digitization of the design of products and circular decision making concerning the future destination of products. 


With this call, we invite researchers to submit their resumé (including track-record) and a one-page project description, that will be the basis for selecting candidates with whom we will collaborate for developing competitive MSCA-IF proposals. 
 

• Deadline application to VITO
Interested candidates should submit their resume (incl. track record) and a one-page note describing the project for which a Marie Curie grant will be applied, before Friday 17 April 2020 17h Brussels time.


• Deadline MSCA-IF 2020
Wednesday 9 September 2020 17h Brussels time.
 

MSCA-IF-2020 call: PostDoc Smart production of active oligosaccharides mixtures through tailored functionalized membranes

Mol
Postdoc
Description: 

Research challenge:
Pectin, a very common by-product of agro-industrial processes, is one of the polymers constituting the cell wall of higher plants. It is mostly constituted by galacturonic acid units linked by a-1,4-glycosidic bonds (polygalacturonan) that can be interspersed with rhamnose units (rhamnogalacturonan). Galacturonic acid hydroxyl groups can be partially methylated or acetylated. Other neutral sugars that can also be present in pectins are represented by galactose and arabinose. Different vegetal species have different pectin structures, generated by the combination of the different sugars, making pectin a very diverse and very heterogenous class of biopolymers.
Pectin can be exploited for the production of pectin oligosaccharides (POS). POS are usually generated by directed and tailored enzymatic hydrolyses, using different enzymes to degrade the different pectin regions. POS have been proven to have interesting biological properties, which mostly reside in their ability to positively interact with the gut microflora, and to give a specific stimulation of probiotic gut bacteria.
Unfortunately, the properties of POS very much depend on the specific composition, which, given the high diversity of pectin and the diverse enzymes used for POS production, can enormously vary among different starting materials and preparations. Given this diversity, the assessment of the biological properties is to be firmly related to the actual composition of the POS mixtures, in order to make clear links between the structure and the observed activity, and to define the most active POS. This in turn can allow to define which pectin is to be used as starting materials for POS. Moreover, the isolation of the targeted

Approach:
The project will have a twofold target. The first aim is to assess the potential prebiotic effect of diverse POS mixtures by microbiological tools and detailed analysis, allowing to define the most active POS structures. This task will partially rely on already existing in-house expertise, which will be complemented by specific expertise of the candidate in this field and a possible secondment in a specialized group. The second aim is to enrich the POS-preparations with the identified active compounds by fractionation using a new generation of functionalized membranes, purposely developed in the framework of this project, able to separate the different compounds in POS preparations according to charge, length and other physico-chemical properties. This main aim is to prepare prebiotic mixtures having high specific activity.

With this call, we invite researchers to submit their resumé (including track-record) and a one-page project description, that will be the basis for selecting candidates with whom we will collaborate for developing competitive MSCA-IF proposals.

 

Deadline application to VITO: Interested candidates should submit their resume (incl. track record) and a one-page note describing the project for which a Marie Curie grant will be applied, before Friday 17 April 2020 - 17h Brussels time.

 

Deadline MSCA-IF 2020: Wednesday 9 September 2020 17h Brussels time.

MSCA-IF-2020 call: PostDoc New class of biobased esters: process modeling combined with experimental validation

Mol
Postdoc
Description: 

Research challenge:
The subject of this project is the integration of enzymatic (trans)esterification with pervaporation. In cases where sensitive substrates are used, lipase catalysis has the edge over conventional catalysis. However, completion of a (trans)esterification requires continuous removal of by-products. The required technology depends on the physicochemical properties of the substrates and products. Nitrogen stripping of the mixture may lead to simultaneous removal of other close boiling substrates and products. Thermal separations are complicated by the presence of azeotropes and may require an auxiliary solvent acting as entrainer. Pervaporation has some distinct advantages in comparison to distillation to separate azeotropic mixtures. However, design rules and heuristics for systems where pervaporation is integrated with catalysis are scarce. Trial-and-error approaches can be applied in initial investigations when design parameters are scarce or even absent, but this often leads to disappointing or suboptimal results. Therefore, a trial-and-error approach should be complemented with more fundamental biochemical engineering principles to allow a quantitative understanding and finally, to allow the rational upscaling of such integrated systems.

Approach:
The first objective of the project is a further experimental exploration of:
1. the esterification of sensitive substrates where lipase catalysis has the edge over conventional catalysis.
2. Membrane characterization in terms of flux and separation factor for a relevant concentration range.

The second and main objective is the technical integration of pervaporation with enzymatic ester synthesis leading to an improved quantitative understanding of such integrated systems. Currently, heuristics and rules-of-thumb for such integrations are scarce. Therefore, design rules based on sound (bio)chemical engineering principles will be developed to allow: 1. an economic evaluation in an early development phase, 2. sizing all components for such integrated concepts.

With this call, we invite researchers to submit their resumé (including track-record) and a one-page project description, that will be the basis for selecting candidates with whom we will collaborate for developing competitive MSCA-IF proposals.

 

Deadline application to VITO: Interested candidates should submit their resume (incl. track record) and a one-page note describing the project for which a Marie Curie grant will be applied, before Friday 17 April 2020 - 17h Brussels time.

 

Deadline MSCA-IF 2020: Wednesday 9 September 2020 17h Brussels time.

BIOPROCESS ENGINEER (postdoc)

Mol
Postdoc
Description: 

VITO is a leading research center in Flanders (Belgium) in the field of technology development for sustainable processes. The Unit of Separation and Conversion Technology (SCT), has a strong focus on bio- or CO2-based routes. VITO’s biotechnology team has a long-standing and unique expertise in gas fermentations, and in design, operation and optimization of enzymatic and whole cell bioconversion processes, tested either in stand-alone mode or coupled to membrane technology. The team consists of permanent researchers, engineers, technicians, PhD and postdoctoral students and wishes to expand with an extra postdoctoral researcher. More information available on www.vito.be or https://vito.be/en/theme/sustainable-chemistry.

 

Equal opportunity position

 

Job Description:

  • You will be working on multidisciplinary projects aiming at developing, optimizing and intensifying biotechnological processes (both whole cell and enzymatic conversions)
  • You will perform lab work as well as design and set up experiments and analyze data
  • You will handle several projects running in parallel
  • You are eager to run complex lab installations and long-term challenging biotech experiments
  • You will work independently towards the project goal, take responsibility for high quality results and reporting
  • You will work in an international team and context

Postdoc @ VITO

We offer you an outstanding research environment at the interface between the field of academic research and the applied industry.

Take a look at the postdoc topic list to see what VITO has in store for you.

VITO regularly launches a call for candidates who would like to do research as a postdoc researcher that supports the strategic research of VITO.

A postdoc in the framework of the Marie Sklodowska-Curie program

VITO supports candidates who have already obtained a doctorate and who wish to apply for a scholarship within the framework of Marie Sklodowska-Curie, or for another grant. International exchanges are an asset in this case.