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 offer

A 4-year PhD student position in the interdisciplinary area of regenerative medicine. Your 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.

We ask

You hold a Master’s degree in Biomedical sciences or in a related area. You have affinity with translational research in the field of regenerative medicine and neuroscience, and would like to combine in vivo studies, molecular and biochemical assays, and in vitro cellular assays. You will thrive in a multidisciplinary research environment. Experience with in vivo models, behavioral readouts and electrophysiology are of benefit. You are ambitious, enjoy new scientific concepts and want to become a scientist in an international and competitive research environment.


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.


  • You have a Master in Biomedical Sciences (or related)
  • You have affinity with translational research, neuroscience and regenerative medicine
  • You are a highly-motivated, excellent candidate and team-player, with a strong interest in neuroscience and translational research comprising of in vivo animal research including behavioral paradigms and electrophysiology as well as in vitro cellular assays. Molecular, biochemical and immunohistochemical techniques will be used extensively in this project as well.
  • You are challenged by novel scientific concepts, are flexible and social, and have the ambition of becoming an independent scientist in an international and challenging research environment. You like to work in a stimulating network and scientific team of PhD students, post-docs, MDs and (bio)technicians and are able to work in an interdisciplinary environment.
  • Experience with in vivo models, neuroscience and electrophysiology are of benefit.

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