PhD-Project: Celdood en zenuwceldegeneratie bij de amyotrofe laterale sclerose

Katholieke Universiteit Leuven


September 3, 2022


PhD-Project: Celdood en zenuwceldegeneratie bij de amyotrofe laterale


(ref. BAP-2022-583)

Last modification : Wednesday, August 3, 2022

The Laboratory of Neuropathology, focusing on the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative disorders, is an established laboratory in the Department of Imaging and Pathology at KU Leuven. The laboratory of Neuropathology is a group of nine researchers which is embedded in the Translational Cell & Tissue Research unit. This research group has a close collaboration with the Neurology and Pathology Departments of the University Hospitals Leuven and the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research(CBD). For studying amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) we are starting a new project together with the Laboratory of Neurobiology of the VIB Center for Brain & Disease Research. There are 13 research groups within the VIB CBD with a total employment of 230 researchers. KU Leuven funding is available for the next 4 years for a project focusing on the mechanisms of neurodegeneration in ALS throughout the evolution of the disease and among the different types of the disease. Two mechanisms are studied in detail: 1) programmed forms of cell death contributing to ALS and 2) axonal dysfunction. For this, human brain samples will be analyzed biochemically and neuropathologically. The biological involvement of the cell death pathways upregulated in ALS brain/spinal cord tissue will be tested in mouse experiments. With these observations, we want to improve the knowledge about the neurodegenerative processes in ALS and to identify novel targets for disease treatment.

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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a rare neurodegenerative disorderthat leads over time to a more and more severe loss of motor function. Thereason for this loss of motor function is that the motor neurons in the spinalcord as well as the primary motor neurons in the precentral gyrus degenerate. Inthis project we want to learn how these motor neurons degenerate. For thispurpose, we will histopathologically determine which cell death pathways areactivated in motor neurons in deceased ALS patient tissue samples. Additionally,in mouse models we will clarify the functional impact of the identified celldeath pathways by inhibiting them.

Project tasks:

· Pathologicalanalyses of human brain tissue, including quantitative analyses.

· Biochemicalanalysis of human brain tissue (Western blotting, immunoprecipitation, ELISA,etc.)

· Pathologicaland biochemical analysis of mouse brain tissue including quantitative analyses.

· Treatment ofmice with cell death inhibitors


• You will do animal experiments with transgenic mice.

• You will do immunohistochemical and immunofluorescence stainings andanalysis of human and mouse brain samples, as well as biochemical analysis ofhuman brain samples.

• You will supervise lab rotation students and master students.

• You will report your data to your supervisors, other researchers, aswell at (international) conferences.


The candidate should be experienced in the following techniques:

• Immunohistochemistry, immunofluorescence

• Microscopy

• Sample preparation for biochemical analysis


• Western blot analysis

• PCR analysis

• Working with lab animals

• The candidate should fluently speak and writeEnglish and should be able to work in a team with a high degree ofautonomy

What we are looking for:

• You have a Master degree according to EU standards

• You meet the English language criteria of KU Leuven

• You have a FELASA B certificate for carrying out animal experiments(if not, we expect that you follow the FELASA B course within the first 3months)

• You are willing to work with patient tissue and to conduct animalexperiments

• Highly motivated, enthusiastic, critical, and creative

• You have the ability to work in a team and to present yourresults at national or international conferences


· We offer afull time 4-year contract for a PhD student position (financed by KU Leuven).However, the candidate will be encouraged to apply for personal funding.

· You will beworking on a hot topic in ALS research, in a leading research team with a widespreadnetwork of international and local collaborators, and in an excellentinternational research environment at KU Leuven and VIB.

· Promotion ofyour PhD thesis to be written within the four years

· Participationin an individually shaped PhD Program with different opportunities to presentand share data on weekly seminars, lectures and international conferences.

· Access todifferent state-of-the-art core facilities of KU Leuven and the VIB Center forBrain & Disease Research.

Startdate: October 1st, 2022


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Dietmar Thal, tel.: +32 16 34 40 47, mail: or Mrs. Alicja Ronisz, tel.: +32 16 37 67 82, mail:

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