PhD position in Pharmaceutical Reimbursement Policies (1.0 FTE)

Hours per week: 
38 to 40
Faculty of Science
Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pharmacoepidemiology & Clinical Pharmacology
Application deadline: 

Job description

Do you wish to help inform the pharmaceutical reimbursement policies of the future? This PhD position offers a challenging project meant for an excellent candidate, who is interested in bridging pharmaceutical policy research with data science.

Pharmaceutical reimbursement policies are informed by insights from actual and rigorous policy studies. In this PhD project, you will provide decision makers within the field of health technology assessment (HTA) with insights to formulate effective international pharmaceutical reimbursement policies.

The most important task is to develop research activities that focus on advancing the understanding of how HTA organizations can deal with uncertainty. In a short period of time, you will learn many new techniques in the fields of health policy research and data science and apply them within multiple national and international research projects. You will work closely with national and international public organizations such as the Dutch National Health Care Institute (Zorginstituut Nederland, ZIN). Therefore, proficiency in Dutch is an inflexible requirement to be eligible for this position.

Key tasks and responsibilities:

  • perform ground-breaking and internationally relevant research;
  • work closely with public organizations and academic partners;
  • apply data science methodologies within the domain of health policy research;
  • teach health technology assessment courses within the Pharmacy and Drug Innovation curricula (10% of appointment).

HTA informs decisions on drug reimbursement and therefore is a big determinant of patient access to innovative therapies. HTA practices vary between countries and is becoming even more divergent with the introduction of specific HTA pathways, for example for drugs that were granted a marketing authorization through expedited approval pathways. To make sure that HTA organizations can make well-informed decisions, HTA policies and practices are constantly analyzed and compared internationally. Situations of particular current interest are those in which relatively greater uncertainties about comparative benefits and/or risks are present. By internationally analyzing and comparing assessments of HTA organizations, decision-makers get novel insights on how to handle uncertainties associated with a lack of evidence on long-term comparative effects. The primary objective of this research project is to provide HTA decision-makers with suggestions on how to manage uncertainties regarding long-term comparative effects of medicines.

HTA policy research aims to ensure that current and novel HTA policies and practices are data-driven and informed by relevant evidence. Evidence-based policy making is only possible if policy studies are undertaken timely and performed rigorously. Health policy studies use (publicly available) regulatory and reimbursement organizations’ reports from which data is usually extracted manually. Because of the labor-intensiveness of this process, it is hard to provide continuous and timely answers to current health policy questions. Applied data science techniques may benefit HTA policy research by automating large parts of the data retrieval and validation processes. The second objective of the project is to improve the effectiveness of HTA policy research through the development and application of data science methodologies within the health policy domain.


We are looking for an eager and enthusiastic candidate, who is broadly interested in health policy and specifically in pharmaceutical pricing and reimbursement policies and health technology assessment. You have obtained a relevant Master’s degree and excelled during your studies. You wish to work in a dynamic environment where you will have a lot of individual responsibility and the opportunity to shape your own academic development trajectory and research focus. You also have affinity with data science or you are eager to learn data science methodologies.

We are looking for a candidate with:

  • a MSc in pharmacy, medicine, epidemiology, data science, health technology assessment, health economics, or another relevant field;
  • a strong interest in pharmaceutical policy;
  • knowledge about health technology assessment;
  • experience with data science techniques or a willingness to learn;
  • practical experience with data analysis (using R, SAS, Python, Stata, etc.);
  • fluency in English and Dutch, both in speech and writing.

To excel in the role, you should be able to:

  • quickly understand complex systems (i.e. international health policies);
  • work with different types of stakeholders such as healthcare decision-makers from public institutes or governments;
  • work in a dynamic environment on multiple projects simultaneously;
  • take initiative and responsibility for your projects;
  • teach graduate students and supervise Bachelor's and Master's research projects within the pharmaceutical policy domain.


The core of being a PhD candidate is to develop your academic skills to the maximum of your abilities. You can expect an intensive four-year trajectory in which you will develop yourself in at least the following areas:

  • the ability to design and conduct pharmaceutical policy studies using contemporary methodologies;
  • developing a thorough understanding of international drug approval and reimbursement processes;
  • the creativity and ability to link currently relevant societal issues (e.g. pharmaceutical pricing) to rigorous research methodologies;
  • the ability to coordinate a multinational study and collaborate within a network of Researchers and stakeholders from practice. If you wish, this may involve spending time abroad to strengthen your international network and collaborate on a research project;
  • improved skills in presenting research through written articles and presentations;
  • thoroughly improved data science skills, including programming, data management and analytics;
  • teaching and supervision skills, through involvement in lectures, workgroup supervision and the individual supervision of Bachelor's and Master's students.

All these activities are employed under the guidance of the supervisory team. 
Furthermore we offer:

  • a full-time position for 4 years;
  • a full-time gross salary starting at €2,434 in the first year and increasing to €3,111 in the fourth year (scale P Collective Labor Agreement Dutch Universities (cao));
  • 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions based on the Collective Labor Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition to the employment conditions laid down in the cao for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. For example, there are agreements on professional development, leave arrangements and sports. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment via the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we like to encourage you to continue to grow.

More information about working at the Faculty of Science can be found here.

About the organisation

As a PhD you will be employed in the Division of Pharmacoepidemiology and Clinical Pharmacology at the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences of the Faculty of Science of Utrecht University. The division of Pharmacoepidemiology & Clinical Pharmacology consists of a multidisciplinary team of young and internationally oriented Researchers. The research programme is directed at several epidemiological, therapeutic, and policy aspects of chronic drug use with a focus on advanced affordable biomolecular and cellular therapies.

Within the division, the current PhD project falls within the WHO Collaborating Centre for Pharmaceutical Policy and Regulation. The Centre's mission is to develop new methods for independent policy research, and to evaluate current health care policies. The Centre works closely with public partners such as the World Health Organization, the European Medicines Agency, The Dutch National Health Care Institute (Zorginstituut Nederland, ZIN) and the Medicines Evaluation Board (CBG-MEB). Within the centre, one of the focus areas is aimed at analysing and improving international pharmaceutical pricing and reimbursement policies through the analysis of health technology assessment policies and practices and the development of methodologies for cost-effectiveness analyses.

The division is hosted within the Utrecht Institute for Pharmaceutical Sciences (UIPS). This is the research institute of the Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences of Utrecht University, within the faculty of science. UIPS focuses on processes around discovery, development, and use of drugs and medical nutrition, using molecular and technological principles from the Natural and Life Sciences.

Utrecht University's Faculty of Science is a leader in world-class research and innovative education. The faculty is the largest science faculty of the Netherlands and is home to over 6,000 students and about 1,300 employees. The Faculty offers research expertise and opportunities across all departments: Mathematics, Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Information and Computing Sciences, and Pharmaceutical Sciences. The Faculty is internationally renowned for the quality of its research, which is interdisciplinary and societally relevant.

Utrecht University is a friendly and ambitious university at the heart of an ancient city. We love to welcome new scientists to our city – a thriving cultural hub that is consistently rated as one of the world’s happiest cities. We are renowned for our innovative interdisciplinary research and our emphasis on inspirational research and excellent education. We are equally well-known for our familiar atmosphere and the can-do attitude of our people. This fundamental connection attracts Researchers, Professors and PhD candidates from all over the globe, making both the university and the Faculty of Science a vibrant international and wonderfully diverse community.

Additional information

Additional information regarding the position can be obtained from Dr. Rick A. Vreman (, or in his absence from Prof. Marieke De Bruin (

Do you have a question about the application procedure? Please send an email to


We welcome candidates with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. If you have the enthusiasm and the qualifications to excel in this role, then simply respond via the “Apply now” button!
Please enclose:

  • your letter of motivation (in English);
  • your curriculum vitae.

At a later stage of the procedure, we will also require the names, telephone numbers, and email addresses of at least two references.

If this specific opportunity isn’t for you, but you know someone who may be interested, please forward this vacancy to them.

Please note: Due to the current situation regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19) the process of selection and interviews is subject to change. We aim to hold the initial interviews in person, but they may be conducted online.

Some connections are fundamental – Be one of them

The application deadline is 3 October 2021.