The NWO VICI project ‘Understanding Overweight and Obesity' is a 5-year
research program, in which researchers from different fields (i.e.,
psychology, biology, and data science) collaborate. Overweight is the largest
and most prevalent modifiable risk factor for health problems, and
significantly contributes to healthcare costs. Researchers generally agree
that overweight is multifactorially determined, including biomedical,
behavioral, environmental, and psychological mechanisms. There is empirical
support for each of these mechanisms, but often evidence is not consistent
across studies, effect sizes are modest at best, and variability on outcome-
measures across participants in a study is often large. This suggests that
contributing factors to overweight likely differ across people. Similarly,
treatments for overweight are, on average, only modestly effective and
individual variability in weight-loss-response to treatment is large. This
project therefore adopts an urgently needed comprehensive individualized
approach. We characterize each participant in a large sample of individuals
varying in bodyweight by their own baseline comprehensive profile, including
person characteristics, biological, psychological, environmental, and
behavioral variables. Next, we investigate how baseline comprehensive
individual profiles cluster in a meaningful way, and relate to bodyweight at
baseline, post-treatment, and follow-up. Moreover, we investigate how these
individual profiles translate to behavior in daily life. To do so, we collect
time-series data on (un)healthy eating and physical (in)activity, and
predictors of these behaviors (e.g., emotions, stress) in daily life.
Challenges and tasks
The challenges and tasks of this NWO VICI project are diverse and include:
Adopt a multidisciplinary approach to understanding and treating overweight and obesity.
Collaborate with a research assistant for the recruitment and testing of a large number of participants, including biological, psychological, behavioral and environmental variables.
Collaborate with data scientists to perform state-of-the art statistical techniques for analyzing and clustering the individual comprehensive profiles.
Collaborate with healthcare professionals who deliver the intensive lifestyle intervention in this project.
Science communication, including writing of high-quality scientific papers, conference presentations, and societal outreach activities.
This project is hosted by Maastricht University. You will be based at the
Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience, and will join the research group
Eating Disorders & Obesity, which includes approximately 25 members and
provides a lively and supportive research environment. You will be supervised
by a team of experienced researchers, who jointly have all relevant expertise
(psychology, biology and data science). Your research will build on, and
benefit from, previous successful collaborations between these researchers.
A (Research) Master's degree in psychology, health science, biomedical
science, or a related field.
Strong communication and interpersonal skills.
Can work well in a multidisciplinary team as well as independently.
Stress resilient and perseverant.
Strong statistical / analytical skills.
Programming skills, preferably R.
Excellent writing and presentation skills.
Conditions of employment
Fixed-term contract : A PhD candidate appointment lasts four years
(first year + three years after receiving a positive evaluation).
The intended starting date is February/March 2023, but can be determined in
consultation. We offer a salary according to the PhD salary scale of the
Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) of € 2.443 gross
per month in the first year to € 3.122 in the fourth and final year. On top of
this, there is a yearly holiday allowance (8% of annual income) and an
annual end-of-year bonus (8.3% of annual income).
The position comes with a number of additional benefits, including:
Partially paid parental leave.
A pension scheme.
The option to participate in collective healthcare insurance.
Assistance with practical matters such as housing for candidates
unfamiliar with the Netherlands, through Maastricht University's Knowledge
Centre for International Staff.
The terms of employment of Maastricht University are set out in the Collective
Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (CAO). Furthermore, local UM
provisions also apply. For more information look at the website
www. maastrichtuniversity.nl > About UM > Working at UM.
Maastricht University is renowned for its unique, innovative, problem-based
learning system, which is characterized by a small-scale and student-oriented
approach. Research at UM is characterized by a multidisciplinary and thematic
approach, and is concentrated in research institutes and schools. Maastricht
University has around 22,000 students and about 5,000 employees. Reflecting
the university's strong international profile, a fair amount of both students
and staff are from abroad. The university hosts 6 faculties: Faculty of
Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, Faculty of Law, School of Business and
Economics, Faculty of Science and Engineering, Faculty of Arts and Social
Sciences, Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience. For more information, visit
The Faculty of Psychology and Neuroscience Founded in 1995, we are an
international group of psychologists and neuroscientists undertaking
internationally respected research in the areas of health, cognitive, social,
organizational, clinical, and neurpsychology, and neuroscience. We maintain a
large network of international collaborators and provide education on bachelor
and master level.
https: // www. maastrichtuniversity.nl/about-um/faculties/faculty-psychology-and-
Our new colleague will be joining the international research group Eating
Disorders & Obesity, consisting of approximately 25 people, including
principle investigators, postdocs and PhD students.
https: // eetonderzoek.nl/?lang=en
Living and working in Maastricht The Faculty of Psychology and
Neuroscience is housed in Maastricht, the Netherlands. Situated in the heart
of Europe and within 30 kilometers from the German and Belgian borders,
Maastricht and its 120,000 inhabitants have a strong international character.
It is a safe and family-friendly city with a history spanning more than 2,000
years. The city's rich past is reflected everywhere in the streets: the ratio
of monuments-to-inhabitants is roughly 1:73.
For more information, you can contact:
Prof. Dr. Anne Roefs, email: A.Roefs@maastrichtuniversity.nl
The preferred starting date of this PhD project is February/March 2023, and
will be determined in consultation with the successful candidate.
To apply at this vacancy, press the button ‘apply now' to see the application