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PhD position in Mechanical Interactions between Cells and Fibrous Tissues

PhD position in Mechanical Interactions between Cells and Fibrous Tissues

Biomedical Engineering


PhD project

Cells are mechanically active entities that can physically deform their environments. The cellular environment of soft tissues presents diverse and complex three-dimensional substratum that also acts as a mechanical resistance to cellular forces. The dynamic balance of forces and deformations of the cells and the fibrous extracellular matrix underlie a variety of tissue and organ functions and disorders. Tracing back these disorders to the mechanical interactions between cells and their environment, however, is challenging, due to the complex interplay between various factors.

In the project, the successful candidate will combine computational modeling and experimental approaches to dissect the mechanical interactions between cells and the fibrous extracellular matrix in soft tissues, as well as the consequences of these interactions at the intracellular, cellular, and tissue levels. You will work together with an interdisciplinary team of researchers at the interface between biophysics, mechanics, and bioengineering. Research conducted by the successful candidate will be part of greater and exciting effort aimed at developing a growing in-vitro toolbox for functional tissue engineering, organ regeneration, and disease modeling.

Project setting

The research will be conducted in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) under the supervision of Dr. Nicholas A. Kurniawan. Dr. Kurniawan’s research strives to make an impact on healthcare through an improved understanding of cell–matrix physical interactions and (multi)cellular sensing. His team is embedded within the Soft Tissue Engineering and Mechanobiology (STEM) group headed by Prof. Carlijn V.C. Bouten. The STEM group concentrates on the study of disease progression as well as on the engineering of soft tissues, aiming at the replacement of diseased or malformed tissues and the development of in-vitro model systems of developing tissues. For the experimental part of the project, the researcher will have access to the Cell and Tissue Engineering laboratory, a state-of-the-art research infrastructure operating at the international forefront of the engineering of living tissues.

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.

Biomedical Engineering

The Department of Biomedical Engineering (BME) in TU/e 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.


We are looking for enthusiastic and talented candidates to join our growing and ambitious research team.

  • The candidate should have a  master’s degree (or an equivalent university degree) in (bio)physics, bioengineering, mechanical engineering, or a related field.
  • The candidate should show affinity to and experience with computational mechanical modeling.
  • Demonstrable experience with cell culture and hydrogels as well as cross-disciplinary research is a plus.
  • The candidate should be able to effectively communicate scientific ideas, foster collaborations, and have a capability for independent thinking. Moreover, the candidate should be able to work independently within a dynamic team.
  • Be proficient in written and spoken English.
  • Have a research oriented attitude.


  • A meaningful job in a dynamic and ambitious university with the possibility to present your work at international conferences.
  • A full-time employment for four years, with an intermediate evaluation after one year.
  • To support you during your PhD and to prepare you for the rest of your career, you will have free access to a personal development program for PhD students (PROOF program).
  • A gross monthly salary and benefits in accordance with the Collective Labor Agreement for Dutch Universities.
  • Additionally, an annual holiday allowance of 8% of the yearly salary, plus a year-end allowance of 8.3% of the annual salary.
  • A broad package of fringe benefits, including an excellent technical infrastructure, moving expenses, and savings schemes.
  • Family-friendly initiatives are in place, such as an international spouse program, and excellent on-campus children day care and sports facilities.

Informatie en sollicitatie

More information

Do you recognize yourself in this profile and would you like to know more, please contact Dr. Nicholas Kurniawan, n.a.kurniawan[at]

For information about the employment conditions at TU/e, click here.

Links of interest:
Biomedical Engineering department at TU/e:
Dr. Nicholas Kurniawan’s webpage:


We invite you to submit a complete application by using the 'solliciteer nu'-button on this page. The application should include a:

  • A one-page personal motivation letter in which you describe your motivation and qualifications for the position.
  • Curriculum vitae, including a list of your publications and the contact information of two recent references..
  • Academic transcript.
  • A digital copy of your MSc thesis (if applicable).

Only complete applications will be considered. Screening of applicants will start as soon as applications are received and will continue until the position is filled. The starting date of the position is flexible but not later than 1 January 2021.