Given the epidemiological forecast and the failure of clinical treatments, there is a clear need to detect Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in the preclinical phase to prevent or delay its further development. Nowadays, AD diagnosis relies on a combination of biomarkers obtained from imaging and on the levels of tau and Aβ peptides in cerebrospinal fluid. Blood biomarkers as first screening tools are of high interest as these are cost- and time-effective, obtained in a minimally invasive manner and allow for repeated sampling (e.g., to monitor disease evolution).
Though there have been several untargeted proteome studies aimed at identifying protein biomarkers in the blood of AD patients, no such protein signature was found which, with sufficient sensitivity and reproducibility, could distinguish between AD, mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and controls. Selective enrichment of plasma Aβ peptides strongly indicates that Aβ burden might be a good biomarker to distinguish AD patients from controls. We hypothesize that if plasma Aβ burden reflects brain pathology, detecting other brain proteins in blood samples is a matter of applying a sufficiently sensitive method.
We have developed a novel proteomic technology that enriches for proteins that get deposited into the fluids surrounding diseased tissues, this upon cytolysis of parts of such tissues. In this project, in collaboration with clinical centres, we will collect and analyse blood samples from AD-dementia patients, MCI individuals and cognitively normal controls with the aim to identify novel AD biomarkers.
Candidates should hold a doctoral degree in life sciences and are junior postdoctoral researchers with a proven track record in applying mass spectrometric techniques, preferentially in biomedical/clinical settings. Candidates must have been involved in all aspects of contemporary proteomics, including sample preparation, analysis by means of mass spectrometry and bioinformatics to identify and quantify proteins. Excellent knowledge of the English language is a prerequisite.
Desirable but not required
Eligible candidates with excellent grades/an excellent CV will be strongly encouraged to apply for their own fellowships once they started to work in the Gevaert lab.
Candidates with a track record in using proteomics for the identification of disease biomarkers and/or the study of neurodegenerative diseases are strongly encouraged to apply.
Experience with data-independent analyses is an asset, as is your motivation to get involved in teaching master-level students.
Key personal characteristics
We will hire an enthusiastic, warm and motivated young postdoctoral scientist who considers science as her/his playground! You must be able to communicate with clinicians as well as with proteome scientists, bioinformaticians and statisticians.
A very warm working environment in a brand new science building (Q1 2020) that brings together about 700 life science scientists in the biotechnology hub in Flanders, the medieval city of Ghent.
The position will start in 2020 and will last for at least two years.
How to apply?
Motivated candidates are asked to apply online.