PhD Position to Study Synaptic Membrane Biology in Neurological Disease


A PhD position to study the cell biological basis of neurological disease is available in the Goodchild and Verstreken labs in the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research in Belgium.

Coordinated production of membrane lipids is central to many aspects of neuronal development and function. Furthermore, mutations in lipid metabolic enzymes are connected to many neurological diseases (Grillet, et al, Developmental Cell. 2016; Lauwers, et al, Neuron. 2016) including the related movement disorders of Parkinsons Disease and Dystonia. However, how synapses control the quantity and composition of their membranes is poorly understood. Not least this is because lipid synthesis occurs in the endoplasmic reticulum organelle which is poorly characterized in axons and synapses.

We have a joint PhD position available in our labs to study how neurological-disease associated defects in lipid metabolism affect organelle and synaptic morphology and function. This project combines neurological disease with classic cell biology and neuroscience, and uses fly as a model organism. Our department houses state of the art live cell imaging capacities, 3D electron microscopy and CLEM, has an electrophysiology core, and CRISPR expertise to generate new genetic models. All these are available for this project.

VIB is a leading European life science institute, located in Flanders, Belgium. With more than 1470 scientists from over 60 countries, we perform basic research into the molecular foundations of life. The town of Leuven is located in the heart of Europe, with convenient high speed train, motorway and airport transport. In addition, our department is embedded within the KU Leuven university, that is ranked within the world’s top 50, and is a leading academic center.


  • Applicants should hold a Master degree (or equivalent) in biology, health sciences or a related discipline.
  • Motivation to perform top cellular neuroscience and mechanistic disease research
  • Motivation to build a research career
  • Strong academic record (in the top 20% of your group)
  • Drosophila, cell biology and/ or electrophysiology experience are a plus. 
  • Enjoy working in a team and communicating

We offer:

  • Access to  state-of-the-art infrastructure and possibility to invest in new infrastructure as needed
  • A stimulating, diverse international research environment in world-class academic laboratories 
  • Start date: as soon as possible – the position is immediately available
  • Funding is available. However, students are expected to apply for fellowships.

How to apply?

​Additional required information:

  • Please enclose a short personal statement that demonstrates your interest in this type of research. 
  • Please mention the contact details of two references in the application form (including e-mail addresses and telephone numbers).

Creation date:

18 May 2017




VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research,



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