Job ID: 80872

PhD-project: Cell type specific function during sensory guided decision-making

Position: Ph.D. Student

Deadline: 31 August 2022

Employment Start Date: 1 September 2022

Contract Length: 4 yrs

City: Amsterdam

Country: The Netherlands

Institution: Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Department: Center for Genomics and Cognitive Research (CNCR), Faculty of Sciences


The Cortical Microcircuits and In Vivo Neurophysiology teams are looking for a talented PhD candidate for a 4-year project that will be carried out at the Integrative Neurophysiology (INF) division at the  Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research (CNCR) at the VU Amsterdam.

The prefrontal cortex controls cognitive behavior and guided by sensory inputs steers decisions on behavioral output. How activity of projection neurons that target other cortical and subcortical areas is orchestrated to generate behavioral output is poorly understood. By genetically targeting projection-specific cell types, we study how cell type-specific activity in rodents performing are involved in a learned task to understand how identified cell types contribute to behavioral inhibition and decision making. Detailed understanding of cell type specific function and underlying brain areas can inspire the development of therapeutic treatments during brain dysfunction (such as autism, ALS or dementia) or after acute brain damage, including stroke.
As a PhD candidate, your research will aim to elucidate the neural circuit mechanisms underlying the emergence of sensory-guided decision-making.

Your duties

  • You will use a repertoire of state-of-the-art approaches in circuit neuroscience such as single unit and population electrophysiology (silicon probes) in anaesthetized and behaving mice, opto- or chemogenetics and histology to address well-defined research questions.
  • You will become an expert in cutting-edge techniques at the frontier of Neuroscience, such as optogenetics in genetically modified mice to study the link between identified cell-types and behavior.
  • You will be part of a skilled team consisting of postdocs, PhD-students and dedicated technicians working on similar questions.
  • You will have the opportunity to supervise Bachelor’s and Master’s students.


  • We are looking for candidates with a master in Neuroscience and a strong motivation to pursue a career in science
  • Prior experience with single unit electrophysiology, imaging or surgical techniques is essential

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. You will be part of a collaborative, enthusiastic team consisting of multiple PhD-students and experienced post-docs in which we collectively work on important research questions. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts € 2,434(PhD) per month during the first year and increases to €3,111(PhD) per month during the fourth year, based on a full-time employment. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 1 FTE.


The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a total duration of 4 years.
Additionally, the VU Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:

  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package


About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavor – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.


Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the website of the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 31st August 2022.

Tentative starting date: 01 Sept 2022, but this is a flexible target date.

Link to apply:

Note: dates on the VU website may slightly differ (please ignore).

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: Dr. Christiaan de Kock or Prof.dr. Huib Mansvelder
E-mail: or