Postdoctoral Researcher: Growing Cancer Organoids in Synthetic Matrices – Radboud University – Nijmegen

Radboud University

Progress in cancer biology is hampered by the difficulty to grow them in a realistic environment. The best models currently available are 3D tumour organoids. They are typically grown in animal-derived basement membrane extracts, which suffer from lot-to-lot variability and have a heterogeneous and complex composition, which makes it virtually impossible to systematically map parameters that affect tumour growth or treatment efficacy. To increase our collective knowledge on cancer biology and therapies, improved matrices are urgently needed. This project uses a synthetic biomimetic extracellular matrix, based on synthetic polyisocyanides (PICs). It is animal-free, cost-effective and easy to use.

The ultimate goal is to establish a novel organoid platform for in vitro cancer modelling, personalised medicine and biobanking of patient-derived organoids for drug screenings or toxicology assays. As a proof of concept in this KWF-funded project, we aim to establish a PIC-based head and neck squamous cell cancer (HNSCC) ORGAnoid maTRIX platform, called ORGATRIX.

This project is a close collaboration between at Radboud University and Dr Marleen Ansems’ group at the Radboud university medical center. As a postdoctoral researcher working on this project, you will be expected to work in both labs, which are conveniently located across the street from each other.

In the Kouwer Lab, you will prepare and modify PIC gels using protocols optimised for scientists without a strong materials chemistry background. Organoid cultures will be grown in these different PIC gels in the Ansems Lab. The team will hold biweekly meetings to exchange information, monitor progress and prioritise tasks.

A technician will be available to provide support in the cell biology experiments.


  • max. 38 hours per week
  • Nijmegen
  • Radboud University


  • You should hold a PhD degree in Cell Biology, Chemistry, Biomaterials, or Immunology.
  • You have experience with cell culture.
  • You have a proven affinity for biomaterials and chemistry.
  • You have good collaborative skills.
  • You are pro-active.
  • You have a good command of spoken and written English.
  • Conditions of employment

    Fixed-term contract: 18 Months.

  • We will give you a temporary employment contract of 18 months.
  • Your salary within depends on your previous education and number of years of (relevant) work experience. The amounts in the scale are based on a 38-hour working week.
  • You will receive an 8% holiday allowance and an 8,3% end-of-year bonus.
  • You will be able to use our . The Dual Career Programme assists your partner via support, tools, and resources to improve their chances of independently finding employment in the Netherlands. Our Family Support Service helps you and your partner feel welcome and at home by providing customised assistance in navigating local facilities, schools, and amenities. Also take a look at our page to discover all our services for international employees.
  • You will receive extra days off. With full-time employment, you can choose between of annual leave instead of the statutory 20.
  • Work and science require good employment practices. This is reflected in Radboud University’s primary and secondary . You can make arrangements for the best possible work-life balance with flexible working hours, various leave arrangements and working from home. You are also able to compose part of your employment conditions yourself, for example, exchange income for extra leave days and receive a reimbursement for your sports subscription. And of course, we offer a good pension plan. You are given plenty of room and responsibility to develop your talents and realise your ambitions. Therefore, we provide various training and development schemes.


    The Kouwer Lab specialises in the design, preparation and use of soft materials. Our core business is to make hydrogels with biomedical applications. The group consists of chemists who make new materials and new features in existing hydrogels, and cell biologists who use the gels in their experiments. The group is part of the larger , wherein a number of PIs collaborate and share facilities.

    The Ansems Lab is embedded in the Radiotherapy & OncoImmunology (ROI) laboratory at the Department of Radiation Oncology of the Radboud university medical center. The group focuses on understanding molecular and cellular interactions in the tumour microenvironment, aiming to translate our findings into optimal treatment strategies. To achieve this, we utilise a combination of organoid models, preclinical mouse models and human primary tumour tissue.

    You will be encouraged to actively participate in networking opportunities at the Radboud Institute for Molecular Life Sciences and the Radboudumc Research Institute for Medical Innovation.

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