Postdoc: Pattern-driven self-organization of multi-cellular systems

Date posted December 22, 2023
Type Postdoc positions

Multi-cellular systems possess the remarkable ability to self-organize into architectures of specific shape and function. This project focusses on organoids – small mini-organs that are grown outside of the body, and are currently driving an enormous interest in understanding and influencing this autonomous self-renewal. Self-organization in organoids is driven by biochemical signals as well as by spatial effects including cell movement. However, the limited experimental control of biochemical signals in the spatial context constrains further progress. Resolving this issue would open up a range of possibilities. Indeed, the ability to generate tissue-like materials from living building blocks whose mechanical and chemical interactions can be designed is a highly desirable goal of many fields, with many potential applications in engineering and medicine.

In this project, you will study the spatial control of biochemical signaling in intestinal organoids and other 2D cell cultures (‘synthetic tissues’), using advanced 3D fluorescence time-lapse imaging and fabrication techniques to create microscopic 3D surfaces with bespoke chemical patterns. These patterned surfaces will be used to steer the multicellular self-organization, and to generate tissues whose structures and patterning can be designed at will. In this project at the interface of physics and biology, you will use these tools to generate a next level understanding of the role of shape, mechanics, spatial chemical signaling, and the dynamics of cellular proliferation, movement, and differentiation in the organization of multi-cellular systems.

About the group

You will operate in lively and close-knit research group of about 15 PhD students and postdocs in a highly supportive and social atmosphere. The research will be performed at the AMOLF institute which is based in a modern building in the Science Park in the east of Amsterdam.

The position will be joint between the ‘Physics of Cellular Interactions’ and ‘Quantitative Developmental Biology’ research groups. The ‘Physics of Cellular Interactions’ group studies immune cell signaling by live-cell imaging and reconstituting signaling processes in model-membrane systems (“artificial cells”), combining this “synthetic immunology” approach with tools from single-molecule biophysics and microfabrication. The ‘Quantitative Developmental Biology’ group uses a quantitative, physics-inspired approach to study problems in developmental biology, focusing both on the small nematode C. elegans and intestinal organoids. The aim of the research is to elucidate how living organisms reliably build their bodies, maintain their tissues or respond to their environment despite the considerable underlying variability on the molecular level.

 Van Zon group:

Ganzinger group:


We seek candidates with a background in biology, (bio)physics or engineering, with an interest in quantitative science. Prior experience with one or more of the following techniques is considered a pre: microfabrication; micropatterning by PDMS stamping, photolithography and/or 3D nanoprinting (Nanoscribe); fabrication of chemically functionalized surfaces; cell and/or organoid culture; synthetic biology; microscopy; image recognition. You need to meet the requirements for a doctors-degree and must have research experience in a non-Dutch academic environment.

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 2 years, with a salary in scale 10 (CAO-OI) which starts at 3170 Euro’s gross per month, and a range of employment benefits. AMOLF assists any new foreign Postdoc with housing and visa applications and compensates their transport costs and furnishing expenses.

Contact info

Dr. Kristina Ganzinger

Group leader Physics of Cellular Interactions


 Dr. Jeroen van Zon

Group leader Quantitative Developmental Biology


 Phone: +31 (0)20-754 7100

You can respond to this vacancy online via the button below.

Please send your:

–  Resume;

–  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. This means that 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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