PhD Position in Improved Therapeutic Options Using Targeted CAR-NK Strategies
Catholic University of Leuven

The work to be performed is linked to the research group "NanoHealth and Optical Imaging" at the Faculty of Medicine (KU Leuven, Belgium). This research group is part of the Translational Cell and Tissue Research Unit and is further embedded in the Molecular Small Animal Imaging Center (MoSAIC). The latter houses a wide range of non-invasive imaging modalities, which the applicant will join. Our recently started team has an excellent international reputation in nanomedicine and optical imaging. We also often work together with other research groups at the KULeuven to assist them with imaging techniques. The field of nanomedicine is receiving increasing attention and has enormous potential for a plethora of pathological conditions, including cancer. One of the main advantages of nanomaterials is the ability to combine multiple modalities in one platform, allowing the nanomaterials to be used simultaneously for diagnostic and therapeutic applications and to use multiple therapeutic options simultaneously. The main bottlenecks hindering the full use of nanomaterials for biomedical purposes is the need for a higher level of selectivity in terms of targeted delivery of the nanomaterials to the target cells, along with the development of new, alternative therapeutic options. These topics are central to the research group. To answer these questions, multidisciplinary research is highly regarded, in which we make extensive use of non-invasive imaging (optical imaging and soon magnetic particle imaging) to investigate the biodistribution and functionality of the nanoformulations.


Main responsibilities:
  • Design, development and characterization of chimeric antigen receptor-expressing NK cells.
  • The applicant will work on the generation, characterization and validation of CAR-NK cells for therapeutic applications (mainly cancer therapy). 
  • The applicant will work on the generation of CAR constructs with a key focus on additional activation markers, and genetic manipulation of the cells for localized activation of the cells and/or other therapeutic cargo.
  • The applicant will perform in vitro and in vivo evaluations and validations of their generated constructs.
  • The applicant will propose and design novel targets and/or methods for improving CAR-NK strategies.
  • The applicant will contribute to teaching the techniques to PhD students and follow up on different students.


The applicant has:
  • A PhD (recently completed (in 2020 or 2021)) or yet to be completed (before April 2022) linked to biology, medical sciences, pharmaceutical sciences or the like.
  • Experience with generation of therapeutic cells (CAR-NK or CAR-T cells) and generation of CAR constructs.
  • Experience with performing in vitro and in vivo tests related to toxicity, effect of CAR expression on cellular homeostasis and functionality and therapeutic efficacy
  • Any experience with preclinical imaging for follow-up of NK or T cell distribution is a plus, but not a requirement.
  • Any experience with the following items is a plus, but are not strict requirements: transcriptomics, scRNAseq, multi-omics, multiplexed immunohistochemistry
  • International applicants are a plus, but not a requirement.
  • A certificate for animal handling (Felasa B or higher) is a plus, but not a requirement.
  • Applicants must be enthusiastic, dynamic, reliable and accurate, willing to incorporate previously learned techniques into new approaches.
  • The applicant is a good team player, who likes to be closely supervised and who can also work independently.
  • Must have a great sense of responsibility and good organizational skills.
  • Applicants must be able to communicate well in English. Knowledge of other languages such as Dutch is a plus, but not a requirement.


We ask the candidate to submit an application as a postdoctoral researcher to the FWO (on December 1st 2021). For this we will guide the candidate in submitting the application. For excellent candidates, in the event of a positive evaluation and available financial resources, we can appoint the candidate ourselves on available credits for the first year. If the FWO application is approved, the candidate will be offered a fellowship for 3 years, which can be extended once for a new period of 3 years.
The applicant's knowledge and experience will grow with a multidisciplinary team at KULeuven and there will be ample opportunities to learn from and interact with experienced researchers in various associated research domains.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Stefaan Soenen, tel.: +32 16 33 00 34, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than October 29, 2021 via the
KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at
  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: October 29, 2021
  • Tags: Beeldvorming en Pathologie
  • Download: file

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