Building and promoting Excellence in Life Sciences in Europe
Building and promoting Excellence in Life Sciences in Europe

Postdoc synaptic dysfunction in neurodegeneration


Neurodegenerative diseases like Parkinson’s disease (PD) and Alzheimer’s disease affect millions of people worldwide and cures do not exist. Causative mutations to neurodegeneration in different genes have been identified, allowing us to model these diseases in genetic model organisms. Several of these genes have been linked to synaptic function and we are studying the molecular aspects of neuronal communication in models of neurodegeneration. Our work involves the use of iPS cells that we differentiate into neuronal progenitors and inject into the mouse brain as well as fruit fly mutants, allowing us to combine in vivo physiology in human neurons with in vivo mechanistic cell biology in fruit flies.  Our goal is to elucidate pathological but also normal brain function with the ultimate hope to use this knowledge for therapeutic purposes.

The lab is located in Leuven, Belgium, a mediaeval town 15 min from Brussels, 1 hour from Amsterdam and Paris and 2 hours from London.  We are situated at the KU Leuven and are part of VIB, a multidisciplinary and entrepreneurial research institute. Researchers in the lab have access to numerous core facilities and the lab is set at the Bioimaging core that boasts numerous devices including light microscopy (SPIM, spinning disk, several confocals, PALM, SIM etc) and electron microscopy (TEM, SEM, block face SEM, focused ion beam SEM, an all-in-one light and-electron microscopy device, etc).  The lab also houses electrophysiology, cell culture labs, a flyroom, access to the genomics core, etc.  We are surrounded by a large and multidisciplinary neuroscience community with a strong interest and focus on neurodegeneration. Further information can be found on the lab website and the VIB website

Job description

In your project you will use induced human neurons (injected in mice) and/or fruit flies to study mechanisms of synaptic transmission in Neurodegeneration.  Your work will rely on collections of genetic models that have already been created in flies and human iPS cells. By combining in vivo assays such as electrophysiology and live imaging with cellular and molecular techniques, you will characterize neurodegeneration relevant phenotypes and provide mechanistic insight into the role of genetic modifiers as to assess novel therapeutic targets that modulate the phenotypes.


  • Team-player, able to work together with others in to lab with to goal to take on large-scale research efforts to understand neurodegeneration.
  • Knowledge of molecular biology
  • Proficient in microscopy
  • Skills in cell culture work and/or neuronal differentiation and/or fly genetics are a great plus.
  • Knowledge of synaptic biology or electrophysiology are welcome.

We offer

We offer a 2 year, renewable contract, a competitive salary and excellent benefits.

How to apply?

Motivated candidates should apply online. Please make sure to include the following items:

  • Your CV with publication list and the names of 3 referees
  • A less than 1 pg research proposal
  • A short letter of motivation

More information: ; ; Patrik Verstreken.

Espuny-Camacho et al., (2017) Hallmarks of Alzheimer's Disease in Stem-Cell-Derived Human Neurons Transplanted into Mouse Brain. Neuron 93:1066-1081.

Zhou et al., (2017). Tau association with synaptic vesicles causes presynaptic dysfunction. Nat Commun 8:15295.

Soukup  et al., (2016). A LRRK2-Dependent EndophilinA Phosphoswitch Is Critical for Macroautophagy at Presynaptic Terminals. Neuron. 92:829-844.

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