PhD student in the Swammerdam Institute for Life Sciences

The PhD student will work on the molecular basis of aging in Caenorhabditis elegans. He/she will work under the daily supervision of McGillarvy fellow Dr Yelena Budovskaya who has come over from Stanford to start her own research line in Amsterdam. Aging limits the normal lifespan of all animals, and is a major risk factor for most diseases. Several model organisms are currently being used to study the aging process including yeast, fruit flies, nematodes, mice, and humans. Of these, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans is one of the most attractive and useful organisms for studying aging and lifespan. C. elegans normally has a relatively short lifespan of two weeks, enabling one to assess the effects of different mutations or treatments on lifespan. Although many genes and genetic pathways have been found that specify lifespan, relatively little is known about the differences between young and old worms at either the cellular or molecular levels. The long-term goal of this project is to explore in detail the molecular basis of aging in the nematode C. elegans, by first characterizing the differences between young and old animals and then determining how these changes cause young lively animals to become old and frail.

It has been shown that aging at least in part can be caused by developmental pathways that continue functioning throughout the lifespan of the worm (developmental drift theory of aging). The elt-3/elt-5/elt-6 GATA transcriptional circuit is one of the first and clearest examples of developmental drift. This project aims to utilize a combination of genomics, bioinformatics, traditional genetics, and molecular biology to explore the cascade of events that occur in this developmental pathway during aging. In addition, we will investigate whether there are additional pathways that are key to the development of the young organism but drift during aging. Developmental drift in worms is a newly hypothesized mechanism for aging, which might apply to mice and man too. Exploring these mechanisms will help to elucidate whether the developmental pathways that create young tissues, continue to work, as animals get old, now causing aging and death. The work is embedded in the theme ‘Quantitative systems analysis of biological stress response’ and will be reinforced by the presence of technical assistance and two other PhD students who with another PI work on induced stress response in C. elegans.


A Master’s degree in Biomedical Sciences, Biochemistry, Cell Biology, or Molecular Biology (or equivalent); experience with molecular biological techniques; interest in quantative analysis; experience with C. elegans is an advantage; the ability to work in a team; the ability to work independently.

Further information

Project information can be obtained from Prof. Stanley Brul,; +31 (0)20 525 7079 and Dr Yelena Budovskaya (until march 2011,


full-time (38 hours per week)
vacancy number W11-005

The full-time appointment will be on a temporary basis for a maximum period of four years (18 months plus a further 30 months after a positive evaluation) and should lead to a dissertation (PhD thesis). An educational plan will be drafted that includes attendance of courses and (international) meetings. The PhD student is also expected to assist in teaching of undergraduates.

Based on a full-time appointment (38 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will range from €2042 in the first year and €2612 in the final year, according to the Dutch salary scales for PhD students. The collective employment agreement (CAO) of Dutch universities is applicable.

Job application

Applications, quoting the vacancy number and marked strictly confidential (in the upper left-hand corner of the envelope) should include a curriculum vitae. Applications should be sent to:

Universiteit van Amsterdam
Personeelszaken FNWI
Postbus 94216
1090 GE Amsterdam
The Netherlands

Applications can also be emailed to, bearing the vacancy number in the subject line and relevant documents as attachments.

The closing date for applications is 4 April 2011.

Application Deadline : 4 April 2011

Official Website .


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