Postdoctoral Researcher in Bioinformatics/Toxicoinformatics, 1.0 fte (4yrs)

Postdoctoral Researcher in Bioinformatics/Toxicoinformatics, 1.0 fte (4yrs) – Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences/School NUTRIM/Department of Bioinformatics – BiGCaT, in collaboration with TNO-Utrecht

Deadline: 19 November 2021

More information and to apply at Academic Transfer: AT2021.402

Safety assessment without laboratory animals requires a computational infrastructure. Maastricht University is looking for a postdoc to contribute to the large Virtual Human Platform project using open standards and FAIR research output (VHP4Safety)

Location: Maastricht, the Netherlands;
Position: Postdoc;
Discipline: Health; Engineering;
Hours: max. 38 hours per week;
Salary: €2836—€4474 per month;
Requirements: Doctorate

Job Description:
Imagine a world in which we perform precision safety testing of chemicals and pharmaceuticals without using laboratory animals. Imagine that the safety of chemicals and pharmaceuticals can be assessed for vulnerable groups such as infants, the elderly or the diseased. Imagine that we know how these substances interact with human biology and physiology and how they can be used safely at home, school or at work during the course of our lives. This is our vision for the future, the vision that underlies the development of the Virtual Human Platform for Safety Assessment (VHP4Safety), the world’s first platform to determine the safety of chemicals and pharmaceuticals for human health based solely on human biology. By integrating innovations in data science, human tissue culture models and transition management, VHP4Safety will spearhead the transition to animal-free safety assessment. The VHP4Safety consortium consists of leading scientific groups from Dutch universities, university medical centres, public health institutes and applied research organisations, with expertise spanning the technological, biological, chemical, medical as well as the social sciences. The co-funders and cooperation partners ensure the active involvement of diverse academic, regulatory, industrial and societal partners to the project throughout the entire safety assessment knowledge chain.

This research project is funded by the Dutch Research Council (NWO) ‘Dutch Research Agenda: Research on Routes by Consortia’ (NWA-ORC 1292.19.272). With a budget of over 10 million Euros, the project starts on June 1, 2021 and will last for the duration of 5 years.

The VHP4Safety project is made up of three interacting research lines (RL), that involve building the platform (RL1), feeding the platform with newly generated data (RL2) and implementing the platform (RL3) to ensure stakeholder acceptance, governance and sustainability.

As part of the project, we have a vacancy for a Postdoctoral Fellow for 4 years that will be working mainly in RL1 but in close collaboration with RL2 and RL3.

The activities will be part of joint activities performed by the Department of Bioinformatics (BiGCaT) at Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands


Research Group Risk Analysis for Products in Development (RAPID), The Netherlands Organisation for Applied Scientific Research TNO, Utrecht, The Netherlands. and

together with other partners in the VHP4Safety project

Short description of the specific position to be filled in by you:

One key activity in the project is the establishment of the VHP4Safety is the development of a data infrastructure in which computational quantitative adverse outcome pathways (qAOPs) can be ultimately used for quantitative chemical risk assessment with relevance for humans.

Your responsibility will be to help develop, in close collaboration with partners, in silico qAOPs informed by PBPK, metabolism, and toxicodynamic modelling, building on data and tools and models from both the in silico and the in vitro parts data of the project (building the models). We will start with problems related to interorgan bioavailability, metabolism and endpoint effects in kidney, gastrointestine, liver, and interactions between these, this informed by in vitro data from RL2. Further, you will be responsible for integrating the developed AOP models by project partners, into a predictive VHP4Safety data platform in a dedicated team, to ensure FAIRification and sustainability of the models developed (FAIRification of the models). You will be responsible for testing the qAOP models within the VHP4Safety project towards ultimate applications in risk assessment. Specifically, you will derive exposure estimates from the models, to enable hazard characterization, which can be used for point of departure for risk assessment (application of the models).

To facilitate these activities, you will, at Maastricht University, directly collaborate with colleague postdoctoral fellows and experts in bioinformatics, working jointly on the VHP4Safety infrastructure (semantic web, API calls, workflows, data and knowledge based models) and molecular AOP development. Within TNO, you will collaborate with experts in PBPK, qAOP modelling and chemical risk assessment towards ultimate application. Within the consortium you will collaborate with partners responsible for the development of qAOP models.

Your formal appointment will be at Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands. However, you will frequently visit (weekly/bi-weekly) or periodically work at TNO, Utrecht, The Netherlands and/or adapt to hybrid working. You will participate in joint interactions/meetings with the VHP4Safety project consortium, prepare scientific presentations, written documentation (e.g. project deliverables), and scientific publications and ensure the establishment of reusable computational models and infrastructure components applicable for chemical risk assessment.

For more information about this vacancy, please contact:

Maastricht University:

Chris Evelo

Egon Willighagen


Rob Stierum

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