2 PhD students Decoding heterogeneity and cellular interactions by microfluidics (V50.3461)

2 PhD students Decoding heterogeneity and cellular interactions by microfluidics

Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) has the following vacancy: 2 PhD positions: Decoding heterogeneity and cellular interactions by microfluidics.
Faculteit Biomedische Technologie


The Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) has the following vacancy: 2 PhD positions in the new and exciting field of Immunoengineering within the department of Biomedical Engineering (BME). Successful immunotherapy against cancer, infectious or immune-based diseases is the result of a multitude of cellular interactions within the immune system. It is highly exciting how vaccination with small numbers of human plasmacytoid dendritic cells (pDCs) can induce anti-tumour immunity in metastatic cancer patients. Remarkably, how pDCs, as an extremely rare subset of cells, can act as Swiss army knives to regulate the tight balance between tolerance and immunity: i.e. secrete massive amounts of type I interferons, prime T cells and exert cytotoxic effector functions, is still elusive. Do pDCs possess all functions or comprises the population distinct functional subsets all with their specialized roles. Decoding these cell-pathogen or cell-cell interactions is expected to revolutionise the fields of immunology, biology and (cellular) immunotherapy. The Immunoengineering group focuses on developing and exploiting advances in single cell technologies, e.g. droplet- and valve-based microfluidics, microscopy, single cell RNA sequencing to probe heterogeneity in immune cell populations and to study cellular communication on the single or few cell level in health and disease.

Job description

PhD projects

In these projects you will, together with the team, focus on unravelling cellular heterogeneity, specifically how individually activated pDCs ignite systemic type I interferon mediated responses. Moreover, you will examine how these responses differ between healthy cells and cells obtained from patients suffering from cancer or auto-immune diseases. Despite advances in single cell technologies, understanding the role of heterogeneity in immune cell populations, remains poorly understood. By exploiting cutting edge microfluidic technology and single cell RNA sequencing, you will investigate the mode of type I interferon secretion and temporally decipher its signalling dynamics.

Furthermore, we will develop a novel and ambitious single cell technology platform, that allow 1) functional analysis of single (pairs of) immune cells and 2) design of minimal environments under the omission of external factors that could influence cellular behaviour. In this systems immunology approach pairing of single pDCs with single T cells in high throughput by droplet-based microfluidics will decode cellular communication between these cells. To fully understand how DCs drive antigen specific T cell responses, you will be involved in the development of a platform that allows detection of multiplexed and longitudinal cytokine secretion by single cells. Additionally, you will investigate the tumoricidal behaviour of activated pDCs and T cells. Together, this comprehensive approach is required in order to achieve a full mechanistic understanding of cellular activation, communication and heterogeneity which will ultimately lead to superior cell-based vaccines, monitoring of responses and stratification of patients.

About the group

The Immunoengineering group is a new and ambitious group at the TU/e that strives to make an impact on healthcare by an improved understanding on immune cell function and communication. The group is embedded in the Dept. of BME and Institute of Complex Molecular Systems and has access to state of the art technologies and excellent infrastructure.

Biomedical Engineering

The Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) offers a research driven BME Bachelor program and Masters Biomedical Engineering, Medical Sciences and Technology and Medical Engineering in its Graduate Program. Research areas range from Molecular Bioengineering and Imaging, Biomechanics and Tissue Engineering to Biomedical Imaging and Modelling. The department has more than 800 students and up to 200 tenured and non-tenured employees.

Eindhoven University of Technology

The TU/e is a University of Technology with a focus on Health, Energy and Mobility. Within the Health area, several departments cooperate on topics such as Chemical Biology, Regenerative Medicine, Computational Biology, and Biosensing, with close links to healthcare and industry. The TU/e is an open and inclusive university with short communication lines. The people are curious, collaborative, and strive for excellence. TU/e enables its academic staff to develop research and education at an internationally renowned level. Our lively campus community facilitates connections between staff and students, in an open, friendly, vibrant atmosphere that welcomes and inspires.

About ICMS

The Institute for Complex Molecular Systems (ICMS) is an interdisciplinary institute at the TU/e which brings excellent researchers from different areas together to promote cross-breeding of ideas across disciplines in the departments Biomedical Engineering, Applied Physics, Chemical Engineering and Chemistry, Mathematics and Computer Science, and Mechanical Engineering. The institute aims to create and study biologically relevant functional structures with the ultimate goal of understanding the complexity of life.


We are accepting applications from enthusiastic candidates who are interested in a dynamic, stimulating and ambitious environment to perform their PhD. The candidate must have an MSc in immunology, biomedical/chemical engineering, molecular/cellular biology or equivalent. Experience in cellular immunology, including (primary) cell culture, microscopy and flow cytometry is preferred, additional experience or affinity with microfluidics or single cell analysis would be highly valuable. Or vice versa, experience in technology and affinity in immunology. The candidate will be able to effectively communicate scientific ideas, foster collaboration and have a capability for independent thinking. Moreover, the candidate has the ability to work independently within a dynamic team and is skilled in written and oral communication in English.


We offer you

  • An exciting job in the new ambitious research group of Immunoengineering.
  • The appointment will be on a full-time basis for a period of four years with a yearly evaluation. Starting date: flexible, but preferably as soon as possible.
  • Support with your personal development and career planning including courses by offering every PhD student a series of courses in the PROOF program as an addition to your scientific education.
  • Gross monthly salaries are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities (CAO NU), increasing from € 2.266 per month initially, to € 2.897 in the fourth year.
  • An attractive package of fringe benefits, including excellent work facilities, support in moving expenses and commuting expenses, pension scheme, extra holiday allowance 8% in May, end-of-year bonus of 8.3% in December and excellent sports facilities.

Informatie en sollicitatie


  • Information about the Biomedical Engineering department at TU/e see: https://www.tue.nl/en/university/departments/biomedical-engineering/
  • Information about Immunoengineering see: https://www.tue.nl/en/research/researchers/jurjen-tel/
  • Questions regarding the academic content of the position can be directed to dr. Jurjen Tel e-mail: J.Tel@tue.nl
  • Information about the employment conditions at TU/e see: https://www.tue.nl/en/university/working-at-tue/working-conditions/
  • Other information can be obtained from the HR department, e-mail: HRServices.Gemini@tue.nl
    If you would like to apply, please send us your application by using the 'apply now’ button on the TU/e website. Your application should be addressed to dr. Jurjen Tel. Your application must include: 
  • One-page personal motivation letter.
  • CV including the names and contact details of two recent references.
  • A digital copy of your MSc thesis.
    Only complete applications will be considered. Screening of applicants will start as soon as applications are received and will continue until the position has been filled.

    Please keep in mind: you can upload only 5 documents up to 2 MB each.