Your challenge

Head and neck cancer is preceded by precursor changes in the mucosal linings of the upper aerodigestive tract and is caused by exposure to carcinogens or infection with the human papillomavirus. Since the publication of the molecular landscape of head and neck cancer in 2015, a plethora of molecular information has become available, and the current challenge in the research field is to understand, translate and apply these insights in order to improve diagnosis and treatment of patients with head and neck cancer. A clinical problem is the early diagnosis of relapsed disease. When diagnosed early, a patient with relapse can be treated curatively by salvage surgery. However, diagnosis of relapsed disease is by examination under general anesthesia, which is unsuited for frequent screening. In this project, financed by KWFkankerbestrijding, we will eveluate the value of circulating tumor DNA in blood and oral rinses for early diagnosis of relapse.

As a PhD student your main tasks in this project will be:

  • Arranging the recruitment of patients;
  • Analysis of ctDNA by next generation sequencing, and analyses;
  • Writing a PhD thesis based on high-quality internationally peer reviewed publications;
  • Training in computtational biology ;
  • Presentation of findings at (inter)national conferences.

Your profile

We seek a PhD candidate for a position in ctDNA analysis. You have the capacity and team spirit to closely collaborate with all researchers and medical specialists within our department as well as clinicians, informaticians and bio-statisticians across the VUmc Cancer Center Amsterdam or its alliance partner AMC.

In addition to good communicative skills and team spirit we are looking for a PhD student who:

  • has background in medicine or molecular biology and has interest in oncology;
  • has interest in computational biology;
  • has a Msc or MD title or will be awarded an Msc or MD title at short notice;
  • has interest in translational (cancer) research;
  • has writing skills;
  • MDs with interest in molecular oncology and interest in Otolaryngology can also apply for the position. MDs may enter the residency in training program after the PhD training period.

Your work environment

The Department of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery at Amsterdam UMC, location VUmc is specialised in the treatment of patients with head and neck cancer. Within the laboratory of Tumor Biology, approximately 15 researchers are investigating head and neck cancer at the molecular level, in close collaboration with the clinicians.

It is the ambition of the department of Otolaryngology/Head & Neck Surgery of the VUmc to realize significant improvements in the diagnosis and therapy of head and neck cancer, ultimately leading to prevention and better survival with a good quality of life.

We offer

Salary Scale PHD: 2357 tot 3020 euro gross when employed full-time (depending on qualifications and experience).

In addition we offer:
– Additional benefits include an 8.3% end-of-year bonus and 8% holiday pay.
– Your pension premium will be paid by us for 2/3.
– We reimburse 75% of your OV travel costs.

For more information about our employment conditions, please visit our website.

Additional information

For Dutch citizens it is mandatory to provide a VOG (a declaration of good behaviour).


Don’t hesitate to call us!
If you’re interested about this position, you can contact prof. dr. R.H. Brakenhoff, chair of the Tumor Biology laboratory, via telephone number 020-444 0953.
If you need more information about the application procedure, contact Brend de Jong, corporate recruiter at 020-444 5635.

You can apply till 28 March 2019 by using the apply button.

Acquisition based on this vacancy is not appreciated.