Research projects

Please find the list of PhD research projects that are selected for the VIB International PhD Program 2016-2017 indicated below. When applying to our Program, don't forget to mention the correct project numbers on your application form.

Project 1
New ROS therapeutic targets in breast cancer progression
Keywords: protein structure/function, oxidative stress, anti-oxidant systems, cancer models, breast cancer progression
Supervisors: Joris Messens and Massimo Santoro

Project 2
Into the molecular details of a newly discovered anti-inflammatory axis, based on zinc and glucocorticoid receptor
Keywords: food, microbiota, metabolism, inflammation, nuclear receptors
Supervisors: Claude Libert and Jan Tavernier

Project 3
Structural biology of Alzheimer’s disease
Keywords: single particle cryo-EM, Alzheimer’s disease, gamma-secretase, neurodegeneration, drug development
Supervisors: Rouslan Efremov and Joost Schymkowitz/Frederic Rousseau

Project 4
Sulfenic acid identification in crops under oxidative stress
Keywords: oxidative stress, crops, structural-functional biology, C. reinhardtii phenotype-reader, sulfenic acid identification technology
Supervisors: Joris Messens and Frank Van Breusegem

Project 5
Search for biomarkers and therapeutic targets within the biomolecular composition of plasma membranes of metastatic melanoma cells
Keywords: cancer, melanoma, metastasis, plasma membrane omics, superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles
Supervisors: Wim Annaert and Chris Marine

Project 6
Advanced proteomics to combat parasitic plant infestations
Keywords: proteomics, ubiquitination, strigolactones, Arabidopsis, parasitic plant infestation
Supervisors: Kris Gevaert and Sofie Goormachtig

Project 7
Discovery of novel sensor metabolites with regulatory function in higher eukaryotes
Keywords: next-generation sequencing, nuclear metabolomics, signal transduction, thermal proteome profiling, tomato
Supervisors: Alain Goossens and Kris Gevaert

Project 8
Influenza virus biology at the host-pathogen interface: towards new therapeutics
Keywords: influenza, host-virus interactions, in vivo mouse targeting and disease modelling, therapeutic
Supervisors: Xavier Saelens and Geert van Loo

Project 9
Elucidating the Ca2+ code of astrocyte function
Keywords: astrocyte, in vivo imaging, visual cortex, pharmacology, genetics
Supervisors: Matthew Holt and Vincent Bonin

Project 10
Unraveling astrocyte heterogeneity in the mouse brain using single cell transcriptome profiling
Keywords: astrocyte, transcriptomics, transcription factors, development, function
Supervisors: Yvan Saeys and Matthew Holt

Project 11
Abscisic acid: health effects, biosynthesis and signaling in humans
Keywords: synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, inflammation, *omics, nutraceutical
Supervisors: Rudi Beyaert and Alain Goossens

Project 12
Investigation of the molecular mechanisms underlying the role of trehalose or trehalose-6-P in lateral root and trichome development
Keywords: Trehalose metabolism, Trehalose-6-phosphate phosphatase, lateral roots, Arabidopsis thaliana, sugar signaling
Supervisors: Patrick Van Dijck and Tom Beeckman

Project 13
The interplay of endocytosis and signaling. How do plant receptors integrate trafficking and signaling?
Keywords: clathrin, endocytosis, adaptors, receptors, protein-ligand interactions, Arabidopsis
Supervisors: Jenny Russinova and Savvas Savvides

Project 14
Design of functional amyloid peptides that kill drug resistant fungal pathogens
Keywords: amyloid aggregation, Candida sp., antifungal peptides
Supervisors: Patrick Van Dijck and Joost Schymkowitz/Frederic Rousseau

Project 15
Using a highly-evolvable synthetic yeast chromosome to optimize second-generation biofuel production
Keywords: synthetic biology, evolution, green chemistry, biotechnology, biofuel
Supervisors: Kevin J. Verstrepen and Yves Van de Peer

Project 16
Unraveling the molecular mechanisms underlying the mutagenic and carcinogenic effect of alcohol
Keywords: cancer, mutagen, yeast, tumor, DNA damage
Supervisors: Jan Cools & Kevin J. Verstrepen

Project 17
Effect of polyQ expansions on phase transitions of proteins involved in neurodegeneration
Keywords: neurodegeneration, Motor neuron, PolyQ disease, Phase separation, Low complexity domains
Supervisors: Peter Tompa and Ludo Van Den Bosch

Project 18
Culturing the unculturable microbes for the improvement of human and plant health
Keywords: microfluidics, bacterial cultivation, plant and human health, plant and human microbiome
Supervisors: Sofie Goormachtig and Jeroen Raes

Project 19
Using brain implants and single-cell genomics to trace tumour heterogeneity and therapy response during glioblastoma progression
Keywords: single-cell genomics, neurobiology, microfluidics, bioinformatics, glioblastoma
Supervisors: Sebastian Haesler and Stein Aerts

Project 20
Compartmentalized use of "growth-control-regulators" in axonal growth, branching, and synaptogenesis: Non-canonical roles of the Hippo pathway
Keywords: hippo pathway, growth control, axon branching, synaptogenesis, neuronal regeneration
Supervisors: Georg Halder and Dietmar Schmucker

Project 21
Boosting the metabolic fitness of cytotoxic T-cells to fight cancer
Keywords: immunotherapy, metabolism, T-cells, tumor microenvironment, cancer
Supervisors: Sarah-Maria Fendt and Jo Van Ginderachter

Project 22
Proteome-level insight into crop responses to environmental stress through innovative biochemical and computational omics approaches
Keywords: monocot crop, proteome, combined abiotic stress, comparative omics, bioinformatics
Supervisors: Ive De Smet and Lennart Martens

Project 23
The Ubiquitin Pathway as a new frontier in liver cancer therapy
Keywords: ubiquitination, deubiquitinase, liver cancer, proteomics, drug development
Supervisors: Anna Sablina and Sven Eyckerman

Project 24
Degradomic approaches to study intramembrane proteolysis involved in neurodegenerative diseases
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, mass spectrometry, intramembrane proteolysis, proteomics, mitochondria
Supervisors: Bart De Strooper and Francis Impens

Project 25
Role of the vacuolar protein sorting gene VPS13C in the pathogenesis of frontotemporal dementia
Keywords: frontotemporal dementia, VPS13C, IPS cells, differentiated neurons, membrane transport regulation
Supervisors: Wim Annaert and Christine Van Broeckhoven

Project 26
Controlling Membrane Permeation in Animal and Plant Programmed Cell Death
Keywords: programmed cell death, necrotic cell death, animals, plants, membrane permeation
Supervisors: Moritz K. Nowack and Peter Vandenabeele

Project 27
The molecular and structural basis of a signaling peptide-receptor pair involved in root development in Arabidopsis thaliana
Keywords: signaling pathway, ligand-receptor interactions, structural studies, lateral root organogenesis, plants
Supervisors: Tom Beeckman and Savvas Savvides

Project 28
High-resolution biochemical and microscopic analysis of the necrosome
Keywords: necroptosis, protein complex, microscopy, proteomics
Supervisors: Peter Vandenabeele and Sven Eyckerman

Project 29
Cellular and network dysfunctions in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease 
Keywords: Alzheimer’s Disease, hippocampus, memory, cell biology, neurophysiology 
Supervisors: Fabian Kloosterman and Bart De Strooper

Project 30
Computational modeling of the epigenomic landscape of glioblastoma
Keywords: glioblastoma, epigenomics, chomatin, gene regulatory networks, drug resistance
Supervisors: Diether Lambrechts and Stein Aerts