PhD position | Department of Physiology

Deciphering CILP: Investigating the Function of Cartilage Intermediate Layer Protein (CILP) in Myocardial Structural Remodelling. Will you become the PhD-student on this exciting and innovative collaboration between Novo Nordisk and Maastricht University, which aims to find a novel therapy for heart failure?


Job Description
Cartilage intermediate layer protein (CILP) is an extracellular matrix protein strongly upregulated in the heart during cardiac disease. CILP is predominantly expressed in cardiac fibroblasts and has recently gained interest as a marker and pathogenic factor in cardiac fibrosis. Although the association of CILP with cardiac fibrosis is strong and undisputed, the biological role and regulatory factors are uncertain and there is controversy whether CILP has beneficial or detrimental effects on myocardial remodelling. The PhD student will study CILP regulation, interaction, function and mode of action using an innovative 3D cell culture model containing human stem cell-derived cardiomyocytes and cardiac fibroblasts (engineered heart tissue, EHT). By using our novel EHT culture model combined with Novo Nordisk protein-protein interaction expertise we will further our understanding of the function and mode of action of CILP in cardiac remodelling. We envision that the present proposal will clarify whether CILP is a valid target for designing treatment of adverse myocardial remodelling in human cardiac disease.

Responsibilities/tasks of the PhD student:

  • Human stem cell culture
  • Differentiation of stem cells to cardiomyocytes and fibroblasts
  • Preparing 3D engineered heart tissues
  • Analysing mechanical behaviour (stiffness, contractile function)
  • Analysing CILP gene regulation (RNA isolation, qPCR)
  • Analysing CILP function (cell signalling, differentiation, extracellular matrix production, tissue and cell structure, by histology and immunohistochemistry, …)
  • Analysing CILP mode of action (identifying binding partners, signalling pathways, by Western blotting, Immunoasays, …)


Job Requirements
A prospective candidate for a PhD position should possess a strong academic background, typically holding a master's degree in biomedical sciences, medical biology, biochemistry or a comparable relevant field. Strong communication skills in English, both written and verbal, are crucial for presenting research findings and collaborating with peers. Additionally, the candidate should demonstrate a high level of self-motivation, critical thinking, and the capacity to work independently, as well as within a collaborative research environment.


What we offer
As PhD-candidate at Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, you will be employed by the most international university in the Netherlands, located in the beautiful city of Maastricht. In addition, we offer you:

  • Good employment conditions. The position is graded in scale P according to UFO profile PhD-candidate, with corresponding salary based on experience ranging from €2770,00 and €3539,00 gross per month (based on a full-time employment of 38 hours per week). In addition to the monthly salary, an 8.0% holiday allowance and an 8.3% year-end bonus apply.
  • An employment contract for a period of 12 months with a scope of 1,0 FTE. Upon a positive evaluation, an extension of 3 years will follow. 
  • At Maastricht University, the well-being of our employees is of utmost importance, we offer flexible working hours and the possibility to work partly from home if the nature of your position allows it. You will receive a monthly commuting and internet allowance for this. If you work full-time, you will be entitled to 29 vacation days and 4 additional public holidays per year, namely carnival Monday, carnival Tuesday, Good Friday, and Liberation Day. If you choose to accumulate compensation hours, an additional 12 days will be added. Furthermore, you can personalize your employment conditions through a collective labor agreement (CAO) choice model. 
  • As Maastricht University, we offer various other excellent secondary employment conditions. These include a good pension scheme with the ABP and the opportunity for UM employees to participate in company fitness and make use of the extensive sports facilities that we also offer to our students. 
  • Last but certainly not least, we provide the space and facilities for your personal and professional development. We facilitate this by offering a wide range of training programs and supporting various well-established initiatives such as 'acknowledge and appreciate'. 


The terms of employment at Maastricht University are largely set out in the collective labor agreement of Dutch Universities. In addition, local provisions specific to UM apply. For more information, click here.

Maastricht University
Why work at Maastricht University?
At Maastricht University (UM), everything revolves around the future. The future of our students, as we work to equip them with a solid, broad-based foundation for the rest of their lives. And the future of society, as we seek solutions through our research to issues from all around the world. Our six faculties combined provide a comprehensive package of study programmes and research.

In our teaching, we use the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) method. Students work in small groups, looking for solutions to problems themselves. By discussing issues and working together to draw conclusions, formulate answers and present them to their peers, students develop essential skills for their future careers.

With over 22,300 students and more than 5,000 employees from all over the world, UM is home to a vibrant and inspiring international community.

Are you drawn to an international setting focused on education, science and scholarship? Are you keen to contribute however your skills and qualities allow? Our door is open to you! As a young European university, we value your talent and look forward to creating the future together.

Click here for more information about UM. 

Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences
At the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML), everything revolves around healthy living. Our research and education are not solely focused on recovery, but place a strong emphasis on prevention, health preservation, and health promotion. Our aim is to use our knowledge and expertise to genuinely contribute to the well-being of individual people as well as society in total. 

In, research, and healthcare, FHML is closely collaborating with the academic hospital in Maastricht, together forming the Maastricht University Medical Center (MUMC+).  FHML is strongly connected in education, research, and care with the Maastricht academic hospital, together with which it forms the Maastricht University Medical Centre (MUMC+). 

FHML, which is the largest faculty of Maastricht University, is formed by an (inter)national community of employees and students. The faculty offers a wide range of Dutch and English-taught bachelor's and master's programs in innovative educational concepts in which the emphasis is always on building bridges to practice.


The multidisciplinary research of the FHML focuses on a number of carefully chosen topical current themes. In addition to research aimed at gaining new insights, it also concerns research whose results can be directly translated into concrete applications and innovations. The implementation of the various research programs is organized in our six graduate schools and two institutes.

Are you interested in this exciting position but still have questions? Feel free to contact Dr. Frans A. van Nieuwenhoven at for more information.

Are you already convinced and ready to become our new PhD student working on the “Deciphering CILP” project of Maastricht University/Novo Nordisk? Apply now, no later than May 1st 2024 for this position. The first interviews will take place by mutual agreement. The second interviews will take place if applicable.

The vacancy is open for internal and external candidates. In case of equal qualifications, internal candidates will be prioritized. 


Maastricht University is committed to promoting and nurturing a diverse and inclusive community. We believe that diversity in our staff and student population contributes to the quality of research and education at UM, and strive to enable this through inclusive policies and innovative projects led by teams of staff and students. We encourage you to apply for this position.

Job Type:  Academic
Faculty/Service Center:  Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences
Closing date:  1-05-2024
FTE min:  1,0
FTE max:  1,0
Salary min:  €2770,00
Salary max:  €3539,00
ID job:  789
Job Type:  Academic
Faculty/Service Center:  Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences
Closing date:  1-05-2024
FTE min:  1,0
FTE max:  1,0
Salary min:  €2770,00
Salary max:  €3539,00
ID job:  789