PhD-student: Single-cell Dynamics in Mammary Gland Organoids

Date posted December 21, 2023
Type PhD positions

You will use advanced AI-driven cell tracking methods to elucidate the remarkable self-organization of cells in mammary gland organoids. The mammary gland is one of the most dynamic tissues in the mammalian body. However, we lack insight in key processes: duct branching (during puberty), alveoli formation (during pregnancy) and differentiation of milk-producing cells (during lactation). An exciting opportunity lies in the use of mammary gland organoids, which grow outside the body, and can hence be imaged with high spatiotemporal resolution.

In this cross-disciplinary (physics & biology) project, you will follow individual cells as they grow, move, and differentiate to form branched duct architectures in mammary gland organoids. Using advanced 3D imaging, genetic engineering, and AI-driven cell tracking, you will reveal the dynamics and lineage relations between cells that are key to understanding development and differentiation. By combining cell tracking with fluorescent reporters, you will elucidate differentiation trajectories of the major mammary epithelial cell types. You will be able to study how these dynamics differ when organoids are exposed to growth stimuli that change branching dynamics or differentiation. This proposal addresses crucial fundamental questions, while the results will also impact our understanding of breast cancer.

You will operate in lively and close-knit research group of about 15 PhD students and postdocs in a highly supportive and social atmosphere within the three groups (see below) that work together on this topic. The research will be performed at the AMOLF institute (Tans and van Zon groups) and the University of Amsterdam (van Amerongen group), which are all located in close proximity at the Science Park in the east of Amsterdam.

About the group

Tans group:

Van Zon group:

Van Amerongen group:


We are looking for outstanding experimental physicists, chemists, or biologists with an interest in organoid biology, genetic engineering, AI and programming, complex data, and who thrives in a diverse, collaborative, and supportive environment. Excellent verbal and written English skills are essential. You will need to meet the requirements for an MSc-degree, to ensure eligibility for a Dutch PhD examination.

Terms of employment

The position is intended as full-time (40 hours / week, 12 months / year) appointment in the service of the Netherlands Foundation of Scientific Research Institutes (NWO-I) for the duration of four years, with a starting salary of gross € 2,720 per month and a range of employment benefits. After successful completion of the PhD research a PhD degree will be granted at the University of Amsterdam. Several courses are offered, specially developed for PhD-students. AMOLF assists any new PhD-student with housing and visa applications and compensates their transport costs and furnishing expenses.

Contact info

Please feel free to send any informal enquiry about our group, this or other projects in our labs, or any other matter related to this ad by contacting:

Prof. dr. ir. Sander Tans:

Dr. Jeroen van Zon:

Dr. Renée van Amerongen:

All applications must be submitted online via the button below:

Please annex your:

–  Full CV;

–  Motivation on why you want to join the group (max. 1 page). 

It is important to us to know why you want to join our team. Hence, we will only consider your application if it entails your motivation letter.

Applications will be evaluated on a rolling basis and as soon as an excellent match is made, the position will be filled.

Online screening may be part of the selection.

AMOLF is highly committed to an inclusive and diverse work environment, and we greatly encourage candidates from any personal background and perspective to apply. AMOLF has won the NNV Diversity Award 2022, which is awarded every two years by the Netherlands Physical Society for demonstrating the most successful implementation of equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).

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