PhD Position, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Utrecht University, Netherlands

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, The Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences of Utrecht University is an interfaculty research institute within the faculties of Veterinary Medicine and Medicine. Research is carried out in a joint project with the National Institute for Health and the Environment (RIVM). The mission of IRAS is to provide education and research on the human health risks of exposure to potentially harmful agents in the environment, at the workplace and through the food chain.

The National Poisons Information Centre (NVIC) has a close cooperation with the RIVM, its core function is to provide advice in clinical toxicology to health professionals and rescue teams 24/7. Advice focuses on possible health effects among humans and animals, and on adequate therapies. NVIC also carries out monitoring and surveillance programs to ensure public health safety and has a 24 h emergency response function for all chemical as well as nuclear-radiological incidents.

The project will be performed by the National Poisons Information Centre (NVIC) and the Division Toxicology of IRAS.

IRAS is looking to fill the position of:

PhD researcher: Knowledge integration by PBPK modelling (1,0 fte)

Job description
Providing clinical information on the toxicity of hazardous chemicals in humans in emergency situations is not straightforward. One major obstacle is that human data on toxicity of chemicals are scarce. Data on the toxicity of chemicals are available only from animal and in vitro studies, and from accidental chemical exposure of humans.

Physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) models are mathematical models that can estimate the dose inhaled or ingested by a living being or by a specific organ after exposure to xenobiotics. PBPK models allow the extrapolation of results from in vitro and animal studies to humans. Numerous PBPK models have been developed for specific chemicals but their applicability in emergency situations has not been studied yet. It is therefore necessary to make an inventory of the models relevant to hazardous chemical incidents, to study their applicability in emergency situations, and to promote their implementation in order to better determine and characterize risks from exposure to hazardous substances in acute chemical incidents.

In this project we will evaluate the value of using physiologically based pharmacokinetic (PBPK) modeling technique for predicting the absorption, distribution, metabolism and excretion of chemicals in humans after accidents or disasters involving hazardous chemicals.

Your activities will include reviewing reports from the Environmental Incident Service of the National Institute for Public Health and Environment (MOD) from the RIVM, literature articles on accidents or disasters involving hazardous chemicals and literature on existing PBPK models. Next, you will design and perform scientific research in order to collect in vivo data in support of future adaptation of the models, through observational or experimental studies. You will publish your findings as papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals. These papers will form the basis of the PhD thesis. You will work in a multidisciplinary research team with toxicologists, kineticists and physicians. You will also collaborate with several other national and international partners.

We are looking for an enthusiastic graduate (MSc) with a background in the field of (environmental) health sciences, or biomedical sciences. The candidate should have strong organisational, communication and writing skills (in Dutch and English). We are looking for a team player who is able to work independently. Experience in the field of exposure assessment or kinetic modeling will be an advantage.

Candidates from the European Union and North America are eligible for this position.

Terms of employment
The IRAS can offer you a temporary full-time appointment of one year with the perspective of prolongation with another 3 years. The gross salary starts at € 2,042 per month in the first year and increases to € 2,612 per month in the fourth year of employment (salary scale P Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities).

Secondary benefits based on the Collective Labour Agreement of the Dutch Universities are excellent in general and include e.g. a pension scheme, flexible employment conditions and salaries are supplemented with a holiday bonus of 8% and a year end bonus of 8,3 % per year. Travel costs for international conferences and working meetings are also included. The PhD candidate will be stationed at the National Poisons Information Centre (NVIC), situated at the UMC Utrecht, close to IRAS (about 500 meters).

Further details
Additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from the project leader: dr. Claudine Hunault tel. +31 (0)6 19 05 23 75 (between 14:00 and 16:00 h) e-mail:

Please do not send your application to this address.

How to apply
Please send your written application, with motivation, curriculum vitae and addresses of two references, to the personnel department of the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, attn. Mrs. drs. M.E.J. Willemse-van Soest, by e-mail to

Please send your application before 21 March 2011 and refer to vacancy number 121115.


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