Stem Cells and Organoid Biology

ESR project


Title of Project

The injured newborn brain: unravelling the impact and repair mechanisms of stem cell therapy  

We offered

A 4-year PhD student position in the interdisciplinary area of regenerative medicine. The project will focus on the development of stem cell therapy for the treatment of hypoxic-ischemic injury in the newborn brain. The underlying molecular, biological, physiological and functional mechanisms of neuroregeneration in the developing brain will be studied.


The laboratory of Neuroimmunology and Developmental Origins of Disease (NIDOD) of the Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital and the Brain Center Rudolf Magnus, both within the University Medical Center Utrecht, is a leading facility in the field of stem cell research for treatment of the newborn brain.

The NIDOD Laboratory has approximately 20 employees and is a fully equipped laboratory facility in a thriving research environment. We closely collaborate with clinicians at the Department of Neonatology, research groups within the Brain Center Rudolf Magnus as well as with the Utrecht Life Science Campus (Biology, Biomedical Sciences, Medicine, Chemistry and Biomedical engineering) and international academic and industrial partners. You will be working as part of a team of PhD students, post-docs, senior researchers and (bio)technicians that are actively collaborating on projects to develop novel therapeutic strategies to protect and repair the neonatal brain.


The available project will focus on developing stem cell therapy for the treatment of hypoxic-ischemic brain injury in neonates. Hypoxia-ischemia around birth is a key risk factor for the development of brain injury in newborns, which represents a major clinical problem and results in severe life-long neurodevelopmental impairments. Currently treatment options are very limited, which is at least partially due to the lack of knowledge on the mechanisms that underly such early brain damage. To elucidate these pathological mechanisms, we use neonatal rodent models and molecular, biochemical as well as in vitro cellular approaches. Hereby we aim to develop novel therapeutic interventions that repair neuronal damage.

Within this project, you will investigate the molecular and physiological impact of intranasal stem cell treatment in murine models of hypoxic-ischemic brain injury. You will perform in vivo experimental animal work as well as in vitro cell culture and numerous biochemical, molecular and histological techniques to investigate the underlying repair mechanisms and migration of mesenchymal stem cells in the injured newborn brain. Furthermore, you will focus on functional recovery of neuronal networks after stem cell therapy by in vivo behavioral paradigms as well as ex vivo electrophysiological assessments. You will have access to state-of-the-art imaging techniques (confocal, multi-photon and light-sheet microscopy, MRI) and electrophysiological recording techniques for in-depth assessments of the developing brain at the cellular and network level. You will work in a dynamic group of MD- and PhD-fellows, and peers. You will write scientific articles and will present your work nationally and internationally.

Contact person & more information

Dr. Cora Nijboer
NIDOD Laboratory


This project is part of RESCUE, a multidisciplinary, intersectoral and interdisciplinary PhD training programme in Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cells organised by UMC Utrecht (coordinator) and Utrecht University. RESCUE is partly funded by the European Commission under Horizon 2020's Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions COFUND scheme. There are specific requirements with regards to English language and mobility for candidates who would like to take part in this programme. More information