HOURS PER WEEK: 38 to 40FACULTY: Faculty of ScienceDEPARTMENT: Department of BiologyAPPLICATION DEADLINE: 13 September 2023



Job description

In this PhD position you will join the research group of Dr. Apostolos Liakopoulos and build on our previous work to design and assess novel approaches aiming to eradicate mobile genetic elements that encode antimicrobial resistance (AMR). The group is located in the Microbiology division of the Department of Biology and will offer you a supportive research environment with excellent facilities.

Your project will be of utmost importance as the emergence and spread of AMR amongst pathogenic bacteria are a growing global threat. It is estimated to result in 10 million deaths every year by 2050 and reduce Gross Domestic Product by 3.5%. Unfortunately, only a few new antimicrobial agents are currently in the development pipeline. This lack of effective antimicrobial treatment leaves us all vulnerable even to the simplest bacterial infections. As a result, the World Health Organization has adopted a global action plan on AMR, prioritising bacterial pathogens on demand for novel and effective treatment options.

On the top of this priority list is the family of Enterobacteriaceae. Bacterial pathogens belonging to this family are the predominant cause of a wide range of infections worldwide. We have previously shown that AMR in these pathogens is encoded predominantly on mobile genetic elements. In addition, we have studied the characteristics of such mobile genetic elements and have shown that they contribute to the spread of AMR within and between humans, animals and the environment.

Pursuing this PhD in our group offers you the opportunity to:

  • develop essential academic skills such as effective scientific communication (written and oral), building collaborative networks, and teaching;
  • gain a deeper understanding of the biology of bacterial mobile genetic elements;
  • develop your skills in bacterial synthetic biology, omics and in vivo infection models;
  • design and assess novel approaches aiming to eradicate mobile genetic elements;
  • contribute to the eradication of the pandemic of antimicrobial resistance.


For this position it could be beneficial to recognise yourself as being collaborative, enthusiastic and curiosity-driven.

You should bring several or all of the following:

  • a MSc or equivalent degree in molecular (micro)biology, systems biology, genetics, or a similar field;
  • good experimental skills, and preferably experience with multiple of the following: anaerobic bacterial handling, bacteriophage handling, omics, tissue culture and/or in vivo infection models;
  • excellent command external link of both written and spoken English;
  • strong willingness to acquire new skills.


As our new PhD candidate on novel approaches for the eradication of mobile genetic elements encoding antimicrobial resistance, you will be offered:

  • a welcoming and inclusive academic environment that will support you in maximising your potential as a scientist and as a human being;
  • academic training via our Graduate School of Life Sciences external link;
  • a full-time PhD position for 4 years (1.0 FTE);
  • a full-time gross salary ranging from €2,770 in the first year increasing to €3,539 in the fourth year in scale P of the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities;
  • 8% holiday bonus and 8.3% end-of-year bonus;
  • a pension scheme, partially paid parental leave, and flexible employment conditions external link based on the Collective Labour Agreement Dutch Universities.

In addition to the employment conditions 

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 from the CAO for Dutch Universities, Utrecht University has a number of its own arrangements. These include agreements on professional development 

external link, leave arrangements, sports and cultural schemes external link and you get discounts on software and other IT products. We also give you the opportunity to expand your terms of employment through the Employment Conditions Selection Model. This is how we encourage you to grow. For more information, please visit working at Utrecht University external link.

About the organisation

A better future for everyone. This ambition motivates our scientists in executing their leading research and inspiring teaching. At Utrecht University 

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, the various disciplines collaborate intensively towards major strategic themes 

external link. Our focus is on Dynamics of Youth, Institutions for Open Societies, Life Sciences and Pathways to Sustainability. Shaping science, sharing tomorrow external link.

At the Faculty of Science 

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, there are 6 departments to make a fundamental connection with: Biology, Chemistry, Information and Computing Sciences, Mathematics, Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Physics. Each of these is made up of distinct institutes that work together to focus on answering some of humanity’s most pressing problems. More fundamental still are the individual research groups – the building blocks of our ambitious scientific projects. For more information, please visit working at the Faculty of Science 

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The Department of Biology 

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 is organised in the Institute for Biodynamics and Biocomplexity 

external link (IBB) and the Institute of Environmental Biology external link (IEB). The Department of Biology coordinates the teaching of the Bachelor’s programme in Biology, as well as the Master’s programmes and PhD courses that are offered through the Graduate School of Life Sciences external link. Both institutes promote the maintenance of a high-quality and interactive research environment.

The Institute of Environmental Biology 

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 hosts an interdisciplinary research programme focused on the biological mechanisms that determine how plants, microbes and animals interact with each other and how they are able to adapt to their constantly changing and often harmful environment. The research at IEB extends to different organisational levels of life – from genes, cells and organisms to population communities and entire ecosystems. The ambition of the IEB is to further develop national and international leadership in integrated biological studies of plants, microbes, and animals and to create a stimulating, competitive environment for talented young scientists.

As PhD candidate, you will be embedded in the newly established Research group of Dr. Apostolos Liakopoulos within the Microbiology Division 

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 of the IEB. The overall research in Microbiology Division focuses on the development, the properties and the applications of micro-organisms on a molecular and organism level, while the research of Dr. Liakopoulos will specifically focus on the fundamental and applied aspects of bacterial recalcitrance towards antibiotics.

Additional information

If you have any questions that you’d like us to answer, please contact Dr. Apostolos Liakopoulos (Assistant Professor) at a.liakopoulos@uu.nl 

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Do you have a question about the application procedure? Please send an email to science.recruitment@uu.nl 

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Are you an international applicant? Our International Service Desk 

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 can answer your questions about living in the Netherlands as international staff 

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Everyone deserves to feel at home 

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 at our university. We welcome employees with a wide variety of backgrounds and perspectives. 

If you are enthusiastic about this position and you have the expertise and experience to excel in this role, just apply via the “Apply now” button! Please enclose:

  • your letter of motivation;
  • your curriculum vitae;
  • the contact information (names, telephone numbers, and email addresses) of three references.

If this specific opportunity isn’t for you, but you know someone else who may be interested, please forward this vacancy to them.

*Note to recruitment agencies: Please refrain from contacting us regarding this job posting.

Some connections are fundamental – Be one of them 

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The application deadline is 13 September 2023.


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