Every person is unique and so understanding how to optimally treat or prevent disease requires personalized cell culture models in order to disentangle genetic and environmental factors that determine an individual’s disease risk and treatment response. The arrival of induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) has made such personalized human disease modelling possible. However, cell culture is usually done using artificial environments that are very different from the natural microenvironment of cells in the body. Each cell in our body is exposed to a microenvironment with organ-specific physical and chemical properties that maintain properly differentiated cell states. Changes in the biomechanical properties of the microenvironment contribute to diseases such as cancer and fibrosis.

In the collaborative “Convergence in a dish” project of TU Delft, ErasmusMC and Erasmus University, we aim to build a “village in a dish” cell culture platform (iCELL) where iPSCs from many individuals are co-cultured under controlled environmental conditions. Your role will be to develop in vitro cell culture models that capture the complex environment cells encounter in living tissues while being amenable to high throughput analysis. Earlier work has shown that the geometry, stiffness and composition of the extracellular matrix all affect cell behavior. You will combine these three factors into a screening array to match the optimal natural environment of cells using surface micropatterning, topographical patterning, and extracellular matrix hydrogels with tunable viscoelastic properties. Using multicolour time-lapse microscopy, you will perform high throughput phenotyping of the cells’ differentiation state, cytoskeletal organization, mechano-signaling pathways, cell metabolism and DNA damage in response to different substrates. Proof of concept will be tested for fibrosis.

The research environment: We offer an inspiring, supportive and collegial environment. The Koenderink lab is an experimental biophysics lab studying the mechanobiology of cells and tissues. The lab is embedded in the TU Delft Department of Bionanoscience, which focuses on the fundamental understanding of biological processes from molecule to cell. The department provides access to state-of-the art facilities for nanofabrication, a microscopy facility, molecular/cell biology, biochemistry, and high-performance computing for image processing. You will be co-supervised by Gerjo van Osch (ErasmusMC) who will provide expertise in cell biology and fibrosis. For surface topography patterning, you will closely collaborate with biomaterial scientists at the 3ME Faculty of TU Delft (Amir Zadpoor & Lidy Fratila-Apachitei). As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School which provides a Doctoral Education Programme aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.   


We seek an outstanding experimental scientist with a strong affinity for research at the interface of physics, biology and biomedicine. Research experience in fields such as biophysics, soft matter science, and/or bioengineering is welcomed. We are looking for a candidate with a high level of intellectual creativity and genuine interest in fundamental research, who is keen to work in an international and interdisciplinary team. Applicants must

  • hold a Master’s degree, or approach its completion, in physics, chemistry, (bio)engineering, materials science, nanoscience, biomedical engineering, or a closely related discipline;
  • have experience (or demonstrable affinity) with cell work;
  • have excellent written and spoken English skills;
  • thrive in an international, multidisciplinary and highly collaborative environment.

Doing a PhD at TU Delft requires English proficiency at a certain level to ensure that the candidate is able to communicate and interact well, participate in English-taught Doctoral Education courses, and write scientific articles and a final thesis. For more details please check the Graduate Schools Admission Requirements.

Conditions of employment

Doctoral candidates will be offered a 4-year period of employment in principle, but in the form of 2 employment contracts. An initial 1,5 year contract with an official go/no go progress assessment within 15 months. Followed by an additional contract for the remaining 2,5 years assuming everything goes well and performance requirements are met.

Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2541 per month in the first year to € 3247 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

TU Delft (Delft University of Technology)

Delft University of Technology is built on strong foundations. As creators of the world-famous Dutch waterworks and pioneers in biotech, TU Delft is a top international university combining science, engineering and design. It delivers world class results in education, research and innovation to address challenges in the areas of energy, climate, mobility, health and digital society. For generations, our engineers have proven to be entrepreneurial problem-solvers, both in business and in a social context.

At TU Delft we embrace diversity as one of our core values and we actively engage to be a university where you feel at home and can flourish. We value different perspectives and qualities. We believe this makes our work more innovative, the TU Delft community more vibrant and the world more just. Together, we imagine, invent and create solutions using technology to have a positive impact on a global scale. That is why we invite you to apply. Your application will receive fair consideration.

Challenge. Change. Impact!

Faculty Applied Sciences

With more than 1,000 employees, including 135 pioneering principal investigators, as well as a population of about 3,400 passionate students, the Faculty of Applied Sciences is an inspiring scientific ecosystem. Focusing on key enabling technologies, such as quantum- and nanotechnology, photonics, biotechnology, synthetic biology and materials for energy storage and conversion, our faculty aims to provide solutions to important problems of the 21st century. To that end, we train students in broad Bachelor’s and specialist Master’s programmes with a strong research component. Our scientists conduct ground-breaking fundamental and applied research in the fields of Life and Health Science & Technology, Nanoscience, Chemical Engineering, Radiation Science & Technology, and Engineering Physics. We are also training the next generation of high school teachers and science communicators.

Click here to go to the website of the Faculty of Applied Sciences.

Application procedure

Are you interested in this vacancy? Please apply before 31-01-2023.

Please submit your application to g.h.koenderink@tudelft.nl with:

  • A motivation letter describing why you apply for this position, your research interests, and why you would be a good fit for our team (no more than 1 A4).
  • A detailed CV with publication list.
  • Names and email addresses of 2 or more references who are willing to send a letter of recommendation on your behalf. 

Your application will be reviewed as soon as it is received.

  • A pre-employment screening can be part of the selection procedure.
  • Applying for an exemption for specific research and educational areas is an obligatory part of the selection procedure for this vacancy. This exemption must be obtained from the Ministry of Education, Culture and Science (OCW) before an employment contract is agreed upon. Click here for more information.
  • Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.


Faculty of Applied Sciences




Natural sciences




€ 2.541,00 – € 3.247,00


University graduate



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