PhD position on safety of innovative biomaterials

Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM)

  • Stand­plaats Bilthoven
  • Contractduur 48 maanden
  • Uren per week 32 - 36
  • Niveau Master/doctoraal
  • Vakgebied Onderzoek / wetenschap
  • Reageren voor 9 december Nog 4 dagen
  • Vacaturenummer V&Z-GZB-092
  • Plaatsingsdatum 18 november 2021
  • Dienst­verband Arbeidsovereenkomst voor bepaalde tijd


We are looking for a motivated and enthusiastic PhD candidate for the recently funded project DARTBAC: Dutch Antimicrobial Resistance Technology development and Biofilm Assessment Consortium.

Antimicrobial resistance is a growing problem worldwide. Preventive use of antibiotics contributes to this problem: when medical implants such as hip implants and pacemakers are placed, the patients receive antibiotics before and after the surgery to prevent bacterial infections. DARTBAC aims to reduce the use of antibiotics by developing innovative biomaterials that are antimicrobial via mechanical properties or via their surface, without using the traditional antibiotics.
The consortium consists of 9 Dutch universities, 9 companies (including 3 from abroad), knowledge institutes and the orthopedic association. DARTBAC is coordinated by dr. Chris Arts from Maastricht University Medical Centre.

Most partners focus on the development of innovative materials (bio-active glass, biomaterials with antimicrobial peptides, biomateials with different surface topografies). You will contribute to the safety testing of the materials. Current toxicity assays mainly rely on animals and are focused on testing the effects of leachables (the substances that can leak out of an implant). These assays do not take potential physical and mechanical properties of implants into account. In addition, we aim to predict toxicity without using animals. Your research will focus on the development of in vitro assays to assess implant safety.

This PhD project will include:

Identifying the mechanisms related to implant toxicity:

  • By using the Adverse Outcome Pathway (AOP) structure
  • Including identification of Key Events (KE) that could be measured in vitro

Development of predictive in vitro assays using case study materials from DARTBAC partners:

  • Related to local tissue response
  • Use of several models, including co-cultures
  • Using novel culture techniques to assess effects of direct biomaterial-cell interactions

Evaluation and refinement of developed in vitro assays:

  • Comparison to available in vivo data
  • Compatibility with complex novel biomaterials

Proposal for a toxicity testing strategy for biomaterials

You will work in an interdisciplinary team with various types of expertise, e.g., material scientists, chemists, toxicologists, immunologists. As a PhD student, you will be based at the Centre for Health Protection within the Department of Innovative Testing Strategies of the RIVM. The department consists of a group of 25 enthusiastic scientific researchers, technicians and PhD students. As PhD candidate, you will also regularly interact with other partners of the consortium.

Meer over jouw toekomstige afdeling

( is one of the 12 research centers 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.

Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM)

The National Institute for Public Health and the Environment has been promoting public health and safeguarding a healthy environment for more than 100 years. RIVM has a central role in infectious disease control and national prevention and population screening programs. We conduct independent (scientific) research in the field of Public Health, Health Services, Environmental Safety and Security. In our role as trusted advisor, we support citizens, professionals and governments in the challenge of keeping the environment and ourselves healthy.


Voor meer informatie over deze vacature:

Hedwig Braakhuis, senior scientist

Nick Beijer, senior scientist

Voor meer informatie over de sollicitatieprocedure:



Digitaal solliciteren

Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (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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