VIB is offering 10 PhD scholarships for international life sciences PhD students.

Apply now to kick-start your scientific career in a center of excellence, backed by first class research facilities and training in our multidisciplinary, international scientific community. VIB scientists work at the frontlines of molecular biology, cell biology, developmental biology, structural biology, plant systems biology, genetics, biochemistry and microbiology.
VIB is a life sciences research center in Flanders, Belgium, in the heart of Europe.

Selected candidates for the VIB International PhD Program will be fully funded with a yearly net salary of €25.000 and are expected to start in October 2017.

Admission requirements and conditions VIB International PhD Program

Before applying for a scholarship in the VIB International PhD Program, make sure you are eligible for the program. The admission requirements are listed below.


The VIB International PhD Program is aimed towards all non-Belgians, currently not living in Belgium.

University degrees

Candidates should hold a university degree, or satisfy equivalent requirements, which is sufficient to start a doctoral program at a Flemish university. This means that applicants must hold a 5-year University degree, or equivalent, in life sciences (e.g. biology, biochemistry, biotechnology), physics, engineering, chemistry, or related fields
. In general, this implies that the applicant has a Masters degree. Applicants, who have not yet received their degree at the time of the application deadline, can also apply, but a final certificate of the degree is needed no later than 2 months after the selection interviews.
Medical students who wish to obtain a PhD degree can also apply after completion of their MD exams.
Passing the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) is a plus (and you should definitely indicate on your application whether you took the GRE), but the test is not required for your application. Please note that VIB does not yet have a GRE Institutional code. If you take the GRE-test specifically to enter our Ph.D. Program, please use the GRE codes of either the University of Antwerp, Brussels, Leuven or Ghent. We will not reply to inquiries regarding the GRE.
AgeApplicants are preferentially not older than 28 years at the application deadline.


English is used in all VIB laboratories for scientific communication. Therefore, candidates must have an excellent command of English. A language test for English, such as the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is not necessary for the application, but should you have TOEFL test results, please add these to your application. Please note that VIB does not yet have a TOEFL Institutional code. If you take the TOEFL-test specifically to enter our PhD Program, please use the TOEFL codes of either Ghent University, the KU Leuven, the University of Antwerp or the Vrije Universiteit Brussel. We will not reply to inquiries regarding the TOEFL.

Research projects Available 

Please find the list of PhD research projects that are selected for the VIB International PhD Program 2016-2017 indicated below. When applying to our Program, don’t forget to mention the correct project numbers on your application form.

Project 1
New ROS therapeutic targets in breast cancer progression
Keywords: protein structure/function, oxidative stress, anti-oxidant systems, cancer models, breast cancer progression
Supervisors: Joris Messens and Massimo Santoro

Project 2
Into the molecular details of a newly discovered anti-inflammatory axis, based on zinc and glucocorticoid receptor
Keywords: food, microbiota, metabolism, inflammation, nuclear receptors
Supervisors: Claude Libert and Jan Tavernier

Project 3
Structural biology of Alzheimer’s disease
Keywords: single particle cryo-EM, Alzheimer’s disease, gamma-secretase, neurodegeneration, drug development
Supervisors: Rouslan Efremov and Joost Schymkowitz/Frederic Rousseau

Project 4
Sulfenic acid identification in crops under oxidative stress
Keywords: oxidative stress, crops, structural-functional biology, C. reinhardtii phenotype-reader, sulfenic acid identification technology
Supervisors: Joris Messens and Frank Van Breusegem

Project 5
Search for biomarkers and therapeutic targets within the biomolecular composition of plasma membranes of metastatic melanoma cells
Keywords: cancer, melanoma, metastasis, plasma membrane omics, superparamagnetic iron oxide nanoparticles
Supervisors: Wim Annaert and Chris Marine

Project 6
Advanced proteomics to combat parasitic plant infestations
Keywords: proteomics, ubiquitination, strigolactones, Arabidopsis, parasitic plant infestation
Supervisors: Kris Gevaert and Sofie Goormachtig

Project 7
Discovery of novel sensor metabolites with regulatory function in higher eukaryotes
Keywords: next-generation sequencing, nuclear metabolomics, signal transduction, thermal proteome profiling, tomato
Supervisors: Alain Goossens and Kris Gevaert

Project 8
Influenza virus biology at the host-pathogen interface: towards new therapeutics
Keywords: influenza, host-virus interactions, in vivo mouse targeting and disease modelling, therapeutic
Supervisors: Xavier Saelens and Geert van Loo

Project 9
Elucidating the Ca2+ code of astrocyte function
Keywords: astrocyte, in vivo imaging, visual cortex, pharmacology, genetics
Supervisors: Matthew Holt and Vincent Bonin

Project 10
Unraveling astrocyte heterogeneity in the mouse brain using single cell transcriptome profiling
Keywords: astrocyte, transcriptomics, transcription factors, development, function
Supervisors: Yvan Saeys and Matthew Holt

Project 11
Abscisic acid: health effects, biosynthesis and signaling in humans
Keywords: synthetic biology, metabolic engineering, inflammation, *omics, nutraceutical
Supervisors: Rudi Beyaert and Alain Goossens

Project 12
Investigation of the molecular mechanisms underlying the role of trehalose or trehalose-6-P in lateral root and trichome development
Keywords: Trehalose metabolism, Trehalose-6-phosphate phosphatase, lateral roots, Arabidopsis thaliana, sugar signaling
Supervisors: Patrick Van Dijck and Tom Beeckman

Project 13
The interplay of endocytosis and signaling. How do plant receptors integrate trafficking and signaling?
Keywords: clathrin, endocytosis, adaptors, receptors, protein-ligand interactions, Arabidopsis
Supervisors: Jenny Russinova and Savvas Savvides

Project 14
Design of functional amyloid peptides that kill drug resistant fungal pathogens
Keywords: amyloid aggregation, Candida sp., antifungal peptides
Supervisors: Patrick Van Dijck and Joost Schymkowitz/Frederic Rousseau

Project 15
Using a highly-evolvable synthetic yeast chromosome to optimize second-generation biofuel production
Keywords: synthetic biology, evolution, green chemistry, biotechnology, biofuel
Supervisors: Kevin J. Verstrepen and Yves Van de Peer

Project 16
Unraveling the molecular mechanisms underlying the mutagenic and carcinogenic effect of alcohol
Keywords: cancer, mutagen, yeast, tumor, DNA damage
Supervisors: Jan Cools & Kevin J. Verstrepen

Project 17
Effect of polyQ expansions on phase transitions of proteins involved in neurodegeneration
Keywords: neurodegeneration, Motor neuron, PolyQ disease, Phase separation, Low complexity domains
Supervisors: Peter Tompa and Ludo Van Den Bosch

Project 18
Culturing the unculturable microbes for the improvement of human and plant health
Keywords: microfluidics, bacterial cultivation, plant and human health, plant and human microbiome
Supervisors: Sofie Goormachtig and Jeroen Raes

Project 19
Using brain implants and single-cell genomics to trace tumour heterogeneity and therapy response during glioblastoma progression
Keywords: single-cell genomics, neurobiology, microfluidics, bioinformatics, glioblastoma
Supervisors: Sebastian Haesler and Stein Aerts

Project 20
Compartmentalized use of “growth-control-regulators” in axonal growth, branching, and synaptogenesis: Non-canonical roles of the Hippo pathway
Keywords: hippo pathway, growth control, axon branching, synaptogenesis, neuronal regeneration
Supervisors: Georg Halder and Dietmar Schmucker

Project 21
Boosting the metabolic fitness of cytotoxic T-cells to fight cancer
Keywords: immunotherapy, metabolism, T-cells, tumor microenvironment, cancer
Supervisors: Sarah-Maria Fendt and Jo Van Ginderachter

Project 22
Proteome-level insight into crop responses to environmental stress through innovative biochemical and computational omics approaches
Keywords: monocot crop, proteome, combined abiotic stress, comparative omics, bioinformatics
Supervisors: Ive De Smet and Lennart Martens

Project 23
The Ubiquitin Pathway as a new frontier in liver cancer therapy
Keywords: ubiquitination, deubiquitinase, liver cancer, proteomics, drug development
Supervisors: Anna Sablina and Sven Eyckerman

Project 24
Degradomic approaches to study intramembrane proteolysis involved in neurodegenerative diseases
Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease, mass spectrometry, intramembrane proteolysis, proteomics, mitochondria
Supervisors: Bart De Strooper and Francis Impens

Project 25
Role of the vacuolar protein sorting gene VPS13C in the pathogenesis of frontotemporal dementia
Keywords: frontotemporal dementia, VPS13C, IPS cells, differentiated neurons, membrane transport regulation
Supervisors: Wim Annaert and Christine Van Broeckhoven

Project 26
Controlling Membrane Permeation in Animal and Plant Programmed Cell Death
Keywords: programmed cell death, necrotic cell death, animals, plants, membrane permeation
Supervisors: Moritz K. Nowack and Peter Vandenabeele

Project 27
The molecular and structural basis of a signaling peptide-receptor pair involved in root development in Arabidopsis thaliana
Keywords: signaling pathway, ligand-receptor interactions, structural studies, lateral root organogenesis, plants
Supervisors: Tom Beeckman and Savvas Savvides

Project 28
High-resolution biochemical and microscopic analysis of the necrosome
Keywords: necroptosis, protein complex, microscopy, proteomics
Supervisors: Peter Vandenabeele and Sven Eyckerman

Project 29
Cellular and network dysfunctions in the early stages of Alzheimer’s Disease
Keywords: Alzheimer’s Disease, hippocampus, memory, cell biology, neurophysiology
Supervisors: Fabian Kloosterman and Bart De Strooper

Project 30
Computational modeling of the epigenomic landscape of glioblastoma
Keywords: glioblastoma, epigenomics, chomatin, gene regulatory networks, drug resistance
Supervisors: Diether Lambrechts and Stein Aerts

How to apply for the VIB International PhD Program

Please follow carefully the different steps during the preparation stage and final submission stage of your application. Use English in all the documents.

Step 1 – Requirements

Step 2 – Select your projects

Select the projects of your interest from the list of research projects.

Step 3 – Download and complete the Application Form

Download the Application Form.
Complete the file according to the Application Guidelines.
Make sure all required paragraphs are completed. Save the document, titled “your-name–VIB-PhD-Program-2016”.

Step 4 – Submit the Application Form and scans of degrees and certificates

Have a copy ready of your:
  • Completed Application Form
  • Bachelor degree
  • Masters degree (if applicable)
  • English language certificate (if applicable)
  • GRE certificate (if applicable)
  • Transcript of marks (academic records)

Submit your application to: [email protected]

Step 5 – Collect recommendations

Download the Evaluation Letter. Contact two scientists/colleagues who can judge your potential as a PhD-student. Ask both of them to:
  • complete the Evaluation Letter
  • write a letter of recommendation for your application
  • send both documents to the VIB International PhD Program Committee at [email protected]
The letters of recommendation are confidential and are an essential part of your application.
Please note that we will not be able to process your application without the letters of recommendation.

Selection procedure

You must submit the Application Form, completed according to the Application Guidelines, to the Program Committee before the application deadline of 15 February 2017. Application forms received after the deadline will not be considered.

After the submission
We will acknowledge the receipt of your completed application forms by email within 1 week and you will receive a registration number. Please do not inquire within 1 week of sending in your application on the progress of your application.
All applications are reviewed by the Program Committee of the International PhD Program.

In March 2017, short-listed candidates will be sent an invitation letter for the selection week from 15-18 May 2017. We will reimburse your travel expenses and provide free accommodation in Ghent during the selection week.

Offers of admission to the VIB International PhD Program will be made to the top 10 applicants during the interview week.

The selected candidates will be fully funded with a yearly net salary of 25.000 Euros.
Selected candidates are expected to start with their PhD at the university of their thesis advisor, or promoter, around the opening of the academic year in October 2017.

> The next step: How to apply?

Contact International PhD Program

VIB International PhD Program
[email protected]
Rijvisschestraat 120
9052 GENT
phone: +32 9 244 66 11
fax: +32 9 244 66 10

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