PhD position Innovating Chemical Risk Assessment


  • Stand­plaats Bilthoven
  • Contractduur 48 months
  • Uren per week 36
  • Niveau Master/doctoraal
  • Vakgebied Onderzoek / wetenschap
  • Reageren voor 25 juni Nog 9 dagen
  • Vacaturenummer V&Z-GZB-086
  • Plaatsingsdatum 10 juni 2021
  • Dienst­verband Arbeidsovereenkomst voor bepaalde tijd


We are looking for a motivated and enthusiastic PhD candidate for a recently funded Horizon2020 project: RISK-HUNT3R. This international research project aims at the development of new non-animal strategies for risk assessment of chemicals. These strategies are also referred to as Next Generation Risk Assessment.

Next Generation Risk Assessment can be achieved by combining different types of information: estimations of human exposure, predictions of adverse health effects based on in vitro studies, and information on toxicokinetic and toxicodynamic properties. All this information is integrated in a risk assessment framework using computational approaches and final decisions based on weight of evidence.

As a PhD student, you will work at the Centre of Health Protection within the Department of Innovative Testing Strategies of the RIVM. The department consists of a group of 25 enthousiastic scientific researchers, technicians and PhD students.
Your research will focus on mechanism-based testing strategies for the assessment of chemicals that are carcinogenic via non-genotoxic mechanisms.
In this PhD project you use in vitro methods and computational approaches to develop quantitative Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs). More specifically you will:

  • use in vitro models to assess the effects on relevant cellular responses (e.g. toxicity, oxidative stress) after exposure to non-genotoxic carcinogens
  • develop networks of human relevant AOPs involved in non-genotoxic carcinogenesis
  • model (new and existing) data to quantify key event relationships of the abovementioned AOP networks, which will serve as a basis for the testing strategies to be developed
  • identify the in silico and in vitro methods that are needed to measure reliably effects that are predictive of non-genotoxic carcinogenesis and use these for the design of testing strategies for non-genotoxic carcinogens
  • define appropriate weight of evidence approaches, including decision criteria, for the developed testing strategies
  • design and carry out in vitro experiments, conduct data analyses and apply computational modelling and write manuscripts for peer-reviewed scientific journals.

This multidisciplinary approach requires various types of expertise. Prof. Bob van de Water, head of the Cancer Therapeutics and Drug Safety group at Leiden University and coordinator of the project, will be your promotor. Dr. Mirjam Luijten and Dr. Jeroen Pennings at the Department for Innovative Testing Strategies at the RIVM will be your co-promotors. You will be positioned at the RIVM and you will closely collaborate with the Leiden University, as well as other partners of the international consortium.


We are looking for a motivated researcher with the following requirements:

  • A Master’s degree in Cell or Molecular Biology, Biomedical Sciences, Toxicology or a related field.
  • Experience in computational modeling and data analysis.
  • Experience in performing (in vitro) toxicity studies, molecular biology and biochemical assays is preferred.
  • Ability to integrate knowledge from the different areas of expertise required for the project.
  • Proactive attitude, excellent communicator and a team player.
  • Good written and verbal communication skills in English at a level appropriate to scientific research. Verbal communication in Dutch is appreciated.


  • Salaris­omschrijving

    The salary (36 hour working week) is determined on the basis of Annex B of the Civil Servants' Pay Decree 1984 and increases in 4 steps from scale 8, salary number 0 (€ 2623,- gross per month) to scale 8, salary number 8, (€ 3279,- gross per month) in the fourth year.

  • Dienst­verband Arbeidsovereenkomst voor bepaalde tijd
  • Contract­duur 48 months
  • Minimaal aantal uren per week 36
  • Maximaal aantal uren per week 36

Overige arbeids­voorwaarden

In addition to the salary you will receive an Individual Choice Budget (IKB). The IKB consists of money (16.37% of your gross annual salary) and time. You can use the IKB to make the choices that suit you and compile some of your terms and conditions of employment yourself. For example you can choose to have part of your monthly income paid out whenever you wish. You can also convert this budget into leave and vice versa, or spend it on tax-friendly purposes. The central government is keen to promote personal growth and career development and offers plenty of opportunities to do so. The fringe benefits include various study facilities, company fitness, full reimbursement of your public transport commuting expenses and partially paid parental leave.


Job interviews will be held virtually on Thursday July 1st and on Friday July 2nd, possibly followed by a face-to-face meeting on Thursday July 8th at the RIVM.

Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.

Meer over jouw toekomstige afdeling

The Centre for Health Protection (Gezondheidsbescherming, GZB) is one of the 12 research centres at RIVM and focuses on human adverse health effects of chemical substances, biological agents and particles, with a special focus on pharmaceuticals, medical devices, tobacco, consumer products and the interaction with life style factors. Within these topics, novel developments are monitored, and both laboratory and desk research is performed to better understand and explain adverse health effects. GZB has a broad laboratory infrastructure, including chemical analysis, cell biology and imaging laboratories. Research results are translated into advice for policymakers, risk assessors and scientists within (inter)national bodies. In addition, within GZB, we offer a social environment with multidisciplinary teams and an informal structure. For PhD candidates, RIVM offers the promovendi network RIVM (Proneri) to connect with other PhD candidates at the institute.

The Department for Innovative Testing Strategies (Vernieuwing Test Strategieën, VTS) gives advice to policymakers from different Ministries (VWS, I&W, LNV) on the risks of exposure to chemical substances, nanomaterials and medical devices and on alternatives to animal testing. The department generates novel scientific knowledge and insights on these topics and translates this knowledges into advice for (inter)national governments and regulatory institutes. The main aim of the research performed at VTS is to use scientific knowledge on molecular and cellular mechanisms of toxicity to improve the risk assessment of substances in an innovative way. Within VTS there is special focus on carcinogenesis, reproductive toxicology, genetic toxicology, neurotoxicology, immunotoxicology, inhalation toxicology, and endocrine disruption.


RIVM: professional, reliable, and independent
As the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), we are a professional, reliable and independent advisor to the government, professionals and private citizens. Our goal is a healthy population in a sustainable, safe and healthy living environment. We monitor health, diseases, the quality of nature and the living environment. To this end, we conduct research and gather knowledge for accessible information and usable advice. RIVM provides good birth screening, combats infectious diseases and plays a central role in the National Immunisation Programme and population screening. We investigate what is needed for good care, a healthy lifestyle, safe products and a safe and healthy living environment. We also contribute to preventing, combating and managing incidents and crises.

All our advice, reports, fact sheets and publications are produced by our 2100 or so staff from our head office in Bilthoven and - as from 2023 - from a beautiful new building at the Utrecht Science Park. Our work is guided by the issues of today and tomorrow – from our position at the heart of society. We are proud of our organisation, which offers a warm welcome to everyone. As a governmental knowledge institute we want to be a reflection of society. In addition to talent, experience and motivation, aspects of identity such as age, orientation, cultural background or disability also make our organisation richer, more innovative and more fun. With such diverse backgrounds, perspectives and insights, we are all working to achieve even better results!

RIVM – committed to health and sustainability


Voor meer informatie over deze vacature:

Mirjam Luijten, senior scientist, Department for Innovative Testing Strategies


Voor meer informatie over de sollicitatieprocedure:

Frank Alders



Digitaal solliciteren

RIVM nodigt je uit op hun site te solliciteren. Via onderstaande knop verlaat je deze site ga je direct naar het sollicitatieformulier. Het Rijk hecht waarde aan een diverse en inclusieve organisatie. Werken in divers samengestelde teams maakt ons effectiever, innovatiever en het werk leuker. Eenieder wordt daarom uitgenodigd te solliciteren.

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