PhD Opening: An artificial virus replicating in a cellular host

Viruses are among the simplest biological systems and are highly effective vehicles to deliver genetic material into susceptible host cells. Artificial viruses can be used as model systems for providing insights into natural viruses and can be considered a testing ground for developing artificial life. Moreover, they are used in biomedical and biotechnological applications, such as delivery of nucleic acids for gene therapy and as scaffolds in material science. Recently, for the first time, we have been able to develop an artificial viral coat protein that coats individual nucleic acids in a similar way as natural viral coat proteins do. The artificial virus particles produced using these proteins protect their nucleic acid cargo and feature significant transfection efficiency. In the present project we want to build on this exciting result and achieve a further highly ambitious milestone: the replication of an artificial virus particle in E. coli, from an artificial viral genome.

This project will become available as of September 1st, 2014 and is in principle available for four years, subject to University regulations. Properly qualified candidates (see below) are kindly invited to apply.


We are looking for a candidate with an MSc degree in Chemistry, Chemical Engineering, Biology, Biotechnology or equivalent, with demonstrated experience in recombinant expression of proteins. We also expect a demonstrated broad interest in the general area of Nanobiotechnology, and a willingness to learn aspects of other disciplines (specifically soft matter science). We expect good communication and collaboration skills, as well as a drive to excel in a competitive international environment. A good command of the English language is required, and a willingness to spend a number of months at Duke University in the USA.

We offer

We strive to be an internationally competitive research environment, in which students get exposure to a rich spectrum of professional development opportunities. We offer you a temporary position for a period of 1.5 years with extension of 2.5 years after successful evaluation. Gross salary per month is € 2042 in the first year, rising up to € 2612 per month in the fourth year. In addition, we also provide a good (study) leave and a pension of the ABP Pension Fund.

Additional information

For more information about this position, please contact Renko de Vries, telephone number +31-317-484561, For more information about the contractual aspects, please contact Nicole de Vries,  telephone number +31 317485677


You can apply online at until the end of Januari 2014

We are

The Physical Chemistry and Colloid Science group investigates the behavior of complex systems based on particles, polymers, surfactants or combinations of these, an interdisciplinary field where chemistry, physics and biology meet and that is nowadays often referred to as ‘soft matter’. Some typical experimental techniques are scattering (light, X-rays, neutrons), rheology, microscopy, electrochemical methods, microscopy and nanoscopic methods like AFM and optical traps. A dynamic team of 7 faculty members, 3 technicians and about 25 PhD students carries out ground-breaking research in a variety of directions, many of which address questions in the domain of Life Sciences. This specific project is a collaboration with prof. John van der Oost of the Laboratory of Microbiology at Wageningen Uiversity, with Dr. Enrico Mastrobattista, Pharmaceutics, Utrecht University, and with prof. Artush Chilkoti, Biomedical Engineering, Duke University.

The Agrotechnology & Food Sciences Group is part of Wageningen UR where fundamental and applied sciences complement each other. As an important European player, we carry out top-level research and work alongside authoritative partners within the international business world as well as the government on “Healthy food in a biobased society”. We have a crucial role in innovations within the market. Entrepreneurship and professionalism are what define us. In short, we are an interesting, international employer of stature.

Wageningen University and Research centre
Delivering a substantial contribution to the quality of life. That's our focus – each and every day. Within our domain, healthy food and living environment, we search for answers to issues affecting society – such as sustainable food production, climate change and alternative energy. Of course, we don’t do this alone. Every day, 6,500 people work on ‘the quality of life’, turning ideas into reality, on a global scale.

Could you be one of these people? We give you the space you need.

For further information about working at Wageningen UR, take a look at

Acquisition regarding this vacancy is not appreciated.