A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major societal themes. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Sustainability.

The city of Utrecht is one of the oldest cities in the Netherlands, with a charming old centre and an internationally oriented culture that is strongly influenced by its century-old university. Utrecht city has been consistently ranked as one of the most liveable cities in the Netherlands and the most bicycle-friendly city in the world.


  • 36 tot 40 hours
  • Deadline 1 maart 2020

For proper functioning of neurons, excitatory and inhibitory synaptic inputs should be well attuned. We recently discovered that coordination between excitation and inhibition is regulated locally within the dendrites of CA1 pyramidal neurons. We found that when dendrites receive strong input from clustered excitatory synapses, they can trigger the growth of a new inhibitory synapse via retrograde endocannabinoid signaling (Hu, Kruijssen et al. Cell Reports 2019). Here we aim to determine how the dendrite integrates multiple signals to actively maintain a local coordination between excitatory and inhibitory inputs. We will also examine whether dendrites can coordinate activity dependent removal of inhibitory synapses.

The PhD student will use a combination of electrophysiology and two-photon microscopy in CA1 pyramidal cells in organotypic slices of transgenic mice to study activity dependent growth and shrinkage of dendritic inhibitory synapses. In addition, the student will employ a CRISPR/Cas9 gene editing approach to monitor recruitment of labeled proteins to newly formed inhibitory synapses.

We are looking for a motivated PhD student with strong analytical and experimental skills and a deep interest in neuroscience. Applicants should have a solid background in Biology and/or Physics, or a related field of Life Science. Ideally, the candidate has experience with Electrophysiology (patch clamp technique), two-photon glutamate uncaging and/or gene editing using viruses, but the willingness to learn is much appreciated.

We offer
We offer a position (1.0 FTE) for four years, subject to positive review after one year. The research group will provide the candidate with the necessary support on all aspects of the project. The gross salary ranges between €2,325 in the first year and €2,972 (scale P according to the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities) per month for a full-time employment. Salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year-end bonus of 8.3% per year. In addition, Utrecht University offers excellent secondary conditions, including an attractive retirement scheme, (partly paid) parental leave and flexible employment conditions (multiple choice model). More information about working at Utrecht University can be found here.

About the organization
The Faculty of Science consists of six departments: Biology, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Information and Computing Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, Chemistry and Mathematics. The Faculty is home to 6,200 students and nearly 1,500 staff and is internationally renowned for the quality of its research. The Faculty’s academic programmes reflect developments in today’s society.

The division of Cell Biology, Neurobiology and Biophysics of the Biology Department of Utrecht University includes several research groups and is led by Prof Casper Hoogenraad and Prof Anna Akhmanova. Our common goal is to gain insight into basic cellular processes and in this way provide a mechanistic basis for devising therapies for cancer, metabolic and neurological diseases. The synaptic physiology lab, led by Dr. Corette Wierenga, is focused on the formation and plasticity of inhibitory synapses in the brain. Inhibitory synapses critically control information processing in the brain and are crucial in brain adaptation processes and development. More information: Synaptic Biology.

More information
Additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from: Corette Wierenga (Associate Professor), via c.j.wierenga@uu.nl.

Everyone deserves to feel at home at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. To apply please attach a letter of motivation, curriculum vitae and (email) addresses of two referees. Application deadline is March 1, 2020.

Apply online here.

Apply before March 1 2020.

Agency or sales calls are not appreciated

Keywords: Vacancy, Research, PhD, Fulltime, Biology, Physics, Life Science, Physiology, Utrecht