Post-doc: Universal (cellular) immunity to influenza virus in animal models


  • Stand­plaats Bilthoven
  • Contractduur 24 maanden met mogelijke verlenging van 12 maanden
  • Uren per week 36
  • Maand­salaris €2.811 - €4.519
  • Salaris­niveau schaal 10
  • Niveau Gepromoveerd
  • Vakgebied Onderzoek / wetenschap
  • Reageren voor 5 juli Nog 9 dagen
  • Vacaturenummer #303
  • Plaatsingsdatum 15 juni 2022
  • Dienst­verband Arbeidsovereenkomst voor bepaalde tijd


Are you excited to understand how the immune system can protect against rapidly adapting pathogens, like influenza virus? Are you ambitious to perform research to come to an ideal immune profile for so-called universal influenza vaccines and as such contribute to better pandemic preparedness? Do you want to apply innovative methodologies and state of the art preclinical models? Then this is a postdoc position for you!

The department
The Dutch National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) protects and promotes public health and consumer safety, and we help to protect the quality of the environment. We’ve done so for more than a hundred years and RIVM has become a knowledge institute that is at the heart of society. RIVM carries out independent research and provides the government with trusted policy advice regarding health and the environment. We deal with issues concerning infectious diseases, vaccinations, population studies, lifestyle, nutrition, drugs, the environment, sustainability and safety. We do this through research, advice, direction or implementation. RIVM annually produces and publishes numerous reports.

The center for Immunology of Infectious Diseases and Vaccines (IIV) at RIVM is the knowledge center of the government in the field of immunology of infectious diseases and vaccines. The core mission of this center is to provide information and advice about effectiveness of vaccines, vaccination strategies and immune responses against infectious diseases to parties within the government and to the general public. In support of this task, research performed at IIV is focused on optimization of the effectiveness and safety of current and future vaccination programs, immunosurveillance, age-related efficacy of the immune responses and correlates of protection. In this work the center collaborates intensively with other RIVM knowledge centers and national and international collaborators specializing in immunology, microbiology, epidemiology and outbreak control of infectious diseases.

The department for Immune mechanisms – Immunological Models (IIM) is one of the four departments within the center for IIV. IMM focuses on a deeper understanding of the immune responses induced by infection or vaccination   and their contribution to protection by using a variety of immunological models ultimately to support the mission of the center for IIV.

Goal of the function
Influenza virus is notorious for changing continuously every season and to cause occasional pandemic outbreaks. Therefore, conserved epitopes within the influenza virus are attractive targets for novel vaccine concepts to protect against escape mutants or new variants. These epitopes may elicit T-cell or antibody responses that reduce disease and transmission. In the recent years, some promising breakthroughs have been made that underline the potency of various vaccine concepts. However, the knowledge on their working mechanism is still limited, especially considering real world conditions, like e.g. infection history and immune imprinting.

This project aims to get a better understanding on what type of immunity is required to protect against multiple influenza subtypes where the focus is on cellular immunity. Important factors that play a role in the immunity are, amongst others:

Cross-reactivity and durability, location (e.g. lung T resident memory cells), history of previous exposures to influenza viruses and immune imprinting at young age. In addition, we work in close collaboration with a project that investigates the influence of the microbiome on the immune response.

To address the aim, you will investigate the immune response after infection and/or vaccination in the ferret model and use challenge models to study the protective capacity of the elicited response. Ferrets are used as they best represent influenza disease in humans. When required, you may use (transgenic) mouse models for a deeper understanding of the immune response. Through external collaborations, vaccine concepts including mRNA and live attenuated influenza vaccines are available for the induction of different immune responses. For translational purposes of preclinical findings you may deploy human clinical material. Although, the ability to measure cellular immunity in the ferret model has advanced recently, further improvement is required and new reagents, assays and techniques need to be developed in parallel.

In this role you will:

  • Co-design, initiate, organize and guide preclinical studies in mainly ferrets, but also mice.
  • Further develop the ferret model for the goal of the project.
  • Work with and instruct a team of technicians and biotechnicians.
  • Perform experiments under BSL-2 and BSL-3 conditions.
  • Perform assays to analyse the immune response (ELISPOT, flow cytometry, cell sort, RNAseq, HI-assay and ELISA’s) but also perform virological assays.
  • Analyse and interpret data and publish in peer-reviewed journals and present the results in the institute and at (inter)national conferences.
  • Work together in a team of scientists that focus on immunity to respiratory infections in preclinical models and collaborate with related projects within the centre of IIV.

Unique to this job
We are an international, dynamic, highly motivated team of scientists that performs research for the benefit of Public Health. We combine expertise in immunology, virology and preclinical research and believe in the strength of collaboration and working together as a team. We have multiple external collaborations through which we have access to various vaccine platforms. The centre for IIV is in the possession of multiple state of the art flow cytometers, a SORT, various next generation sequencing machines and a BSL-3 isolator laboratory. In addition, you will have access to a unique ferret model that we advanced for analysing (local) cellular immune responses.

De zorg voor morgen begint vandaag
Are you interested in the Post-doc position on Universal (cellular) immunity to influenza virus in animal models? Please send your application to Dr. Jørgen de Jonge (department head IIM and project leader). If you have any questions on this vacancy, please contact Dr. Jørgen de Jonge +31(6) 311 423 89.


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!

Also curious about how others experience working at the RIVM? Watch it on RIVM-ers aan het woord | RIVM


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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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