Careers at UMC Utrecht
Vacancy number: 2021/0868
Apply to: May 31 2021
Education: University
Employment: Temporary position
Full-time/Part-time: 29 - 36 hours

We are offering a 4-year full-time (0.8 – 1.0 FTE) postdoctoral position in the field of environmental epidemiology. You will focus on characterizing microplastic exposures and assessing their health effects during pregnancy and in early life, and on advancing risk assessment of microplastics. 

This postdoctoral position is embedded within the European Commission funded Horizon 2020 project entitled AURORA: “Actionable eUropean ROadmap for early-life health Risk Assessment of micro- and nanoplastics”.

We are exposed to large quantities of microplastics (small plastic particles <5 mm, including nanosized plastics) via the air we breathe and food we ingest; however, we lack crucial data on exposure levels, uptake, and potential risks to health. The AURORA project will advance exposure assessment capabilities for measuring microplastics and associated chemicals (e.g. additives) in tissues relevant for early-life development. We will combine in-depth characterization methods (microscopy and spectroscopy) and scalable methods (mass-spectrometry) to develop methods for both detailed and large-scale toxicological, exposure assessment, and epidemiological studies. This will be combined with a novel tiered-testing approach and epidemiological investigations to provide the first extensive evaluation of maternal and fetal MNP exposures and health perturbations, including placental function, immune-inflammatory responses, oxidative stress, accelerated aging, endocrine disruption, and child development. We will create a risk assessment framework specific to MNPs and identify the remaining knowledge gaps and priorities needed for comprehensively evaluating the impact of MNPs on early-life health.

Your role will be to contribute to the epidemiological and risk assessment work packages. In addition to conducting academic research, you will play an instrumental role in coordinating this project.

The Netherlands has been at the forefront of supporting microplastics research. Utrecht is fast becoming a top location to research microplastics. This position will benefit from a larger network of researchers studying microplastics at Utrecht University and UMC Utrecht (e.g., H2020 POLYRISK project, ZonMW MOMENTUM consortium, UPlasticS3 network), and also exposome research projects which focus on advancing exposure science and internal exposome approaches (e.g., H2020 EXPANSE, the Dutch Exposome-NL Gravitation program, and Utrecht Exposome Hub).


This postdoctoral position will be hosted at the Julius Center for Health Sciences and Primary Care, which is part of the University Medical Center Utrecht. You will be appointed at the Public Health group. The UMC Utrecht is a leading international academic medical center where knowledge on health, illness and care is generated, evaluated, shared and applied for the benefit of patients and society. The Julius Center is a leading and multidisciplinary research center with four primary research programs: cardiovascular epidemiology, cancer, infectious diseases and methodology of clinical research.

You will also collaborate closely with the Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS) at Utrecht University. Utrecht University is highly ranked and one of the largest universities in the Netherlands, with over 7,000 staff and 31,000 students. IRAS is an interfaculty research institute within the Faculties of Veterinary Medicine and Medicine. Its mission is to provide education and research on the human and environmental health risks of exposure to potentially harmful agents in the environment. Research takes places within the domains Toxicology, Environmental Epidemiology, and Veterinary Public Health.

Both the Julius Center and IRAS are located at the Utrecht Science Park, which the highest concentration of knowledge institutions in the Netherlands.

You will be supervised by Professor R.C.H. (Roel) Vermeulen and Dr. V.C. (Virissa) Lenters.


We are looking for a candidate with:

  • A PhD in epidemiology, (medical) statistics, or a related discipline
  • Advanced skills in epidemiological/statistical methods; preferably experience with analysis of large (-omics) datasets using machine learning approaches
  • Knowledge of environmental epidemiology theory, (metabol)omics, environmental health, risk assessment and/or reproductive and child health would be an asset
  • The ability to work in a multidisciplinary research environment and to guide research efforts of students within the group
  • Experience managing large-scale research projects
  • Proven proficiency in written and spoken English

Your qualities include being motivated, communicative and resourceful, an effective independent worker, and a collaborative team member. You are willing to travel, have an appropriate publication record, and are willing to apply for grant funding.


The initial contract will be for a period of one year, which will be extended to a total of four years upon successful assessment. This is an appointment of 0.8 or 1.0 FTE.

The minimum salary for this position is €3,922.00 gross per month and the maximum salary is €5,383.00 gross per month (scale 11) based on full-time employment (36 hours). Your salary depends on qualifications and previous experience. You will receive appropriate training, personal supervision, and guidance for both your research and teaching activities, which will provide an excellent start to an academic career.


Please provide your curriculum vitae, a motivation letter, and the contact details of two referees via the dedicated online form. 

Please contact Virissa Lenters, Assistant Professor, or Prof. Roel Vermeulen if you have any questions about this vacancy (;

Due to the coronavirus interviews will be conducted by video calling. 

The position will remain open until filled.

The maximum salary for this position (29 - 36 hours) is € 5.383,00 gross per month based on full-time employment.

In addition, we offer an annual benefit of 8.3%, holiday allowance, travel expenses and career opportunities. The terms of employment are in accordance with the Cao University Medical Centers (UMC).

More information

If you have any questions about this vacancy, please contact Virissa Lenters, Assistant Professor, phone number: +31616841392, e‑mail adress:

Acquisition based on this jobopening is not appreciated.


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