PhD student in Rehabilitation Sciences - Exercise physiology in metabolic diseases: role of extracellular vesicles

University of Hasselt


July 11, 2021


The Rehabilitation Sciences of Hasselt University seeks a (m/f/x) PhD student in Rehabilitation Sciences - Exercise physiology in metabolic

diseases: role of extracellular vesicles

Background Within the context of the expansion of the research of the REVAL Rehabilitation Research group of Hasselt University the faculty of Rehabilitation sciences wishes to inform about a vacant PhD position (100%) in rehabilitation of internal diseases concerning the role of extracellular vesicles in metabolic diseases (obesity and/or type 2 diabetes). You will be part of the Faculty of Rehabilitation Sciences at UHasselt. This faculty organizes an educational program consisting of a 3-year academic bachelor and a 2-year academic master program within Rehabilitation Sciences and Kinesitherapy. This program has approximately 850 students. The faculty also provides education in the inter-university Master's in Occupational Therapy Sciences. Within the faculty, REVAL ACADEMY organizes interdisciplinary continuing education courses aimed at professionals in healthcare and rehabilitation. The proposed research will be conducted within the rehabilitation research group REVAL. REVAL is an interdisciplinary and translational research group which performs research in the domains of pediatric, neurologic and musculoskeletal rehabilitation, biomechanics, health psychology, mental health care and rehabilitation of internal diseases. Within the perspective of a "civic university" the RELAB platform facilitates the provision of evidence based advice to individuals with a functioning problem and professionals within the healthcare sector as well as to companies. This PhD is done in collaboration with (inter)national rehabilitation centers.

Job content In the field of exercise physiology in individuals with obesity, evidence is accumulating that fat mass loss as a result of exercise training is small, contributing to ineffective maintenance of long-term body weight goals. Besides various clinical reasons, (patho)physiological abnormalities, whether or not occurring during an acute exercise bout, may significantly limit fat mass loss in weight loss trajectories. The mechanisms contributing to these disappointing health benefits are incompletely understood. Gaining new insights in the complex exercise-induced responses at the level of the adipose tissue, as well as its contribution in inter-organ crosstalk will be important to further unravel the pathophysiological exercise responses often observed in individuals with metabolic diseases. In physiologic research, extracellular vesicles (EVs) recently gained a lot of attention. EVs are tiny particles produced by both healthy and unhealthy cells, serving as a messenger between different cells or organs. These vesicles (by their DNA/RNA, proteins, lipids) may alter their target cells' metabolism. Despite the field is still in its infancy, fat tissue derived EVs are known to be elevated in the circulation in individuals with obesity. However, there is limited evidence available about the fat cell derived EVs and their changes upon acute exercise or following long-term exercise training or other weight loss interventions in individuals with obesity. Such studies will be important for confirming the influence of weight loss interventions, with a great focus on exercise interventions, on EVs parameters and to study their biological content with established adaptations following exercise training in metabolically comprised individuals like individuals with obesity. In this project, we will further broaden the knowledge about fat tissue derived EVs in individuals with obesity by using a translational approach, including both fundamental and clinical research. You will follow the rules and guidelines of the ‘doctoral school' of Hasselt University.


  • You have a Master in Rehabilitation Sciences, biomedical sciences, human movement sciences (or equivalent) Final-year students are (likewise) encouraged to apply.

  • You obtained good academic results.

  • You have a strong affinity with internal disease pathology and/or research related to rehabilitation in internal diseases.
  • Experience with the target population (metabolic pathologies) or intended research methodology is a plus.
  • You have knowledge on the design, execution and analysis of experimental research.
  • You have strong problem-solving skills, flexibility, organisational capacity and stress resistance.
  • You have excellent communication skills in English (and Dutch), both oral and written. If you do not know Dutch, you show the willingness to study and speak Dutch within the PhD position.
  • You actively contribute to a positive working atmosphere, and make connections between different (interdisciplinary) domains and people (teaching assistants, PhD students, post-doctoral fellows, professors).
  • Offer You will be appointed and paid as PhD student. Position for 2 years. After positive evaluation one time extendable with 2 years. Positon at Hasselt University.

    Selection procedure You can only apply online up to and including 23 June 2021. The selection procedure consists of a preselection based on application file and an interview. A presentation or assignment is a possibility. The interviews are scheduled for the first half of July 2021. Further information dr. Kenneth VERBOVEN, +32-11-269315, Prof. dr. Dominique HANSEN, +32-11-292126,

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