PhD Position in Mass Spectrometry Imaging

  • Thèse
  • Maastricht
  • Les candidatures sont actuellement fermées.


About the position

A fully funded PhD studentship in the field of mass spectrometry imaging is available in the research
group of Dr. Sebastiaan Van Nuffel at the Maastricht University. The position is will be based at the
Maastricht MultiModal Molecular Imaging (M4i) Institute, embedded in the Faculty of Health, Medicine
and Life Sciences (FHML) at Maastricht University.

Over the past couple of years, mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) has arisen as a powerful tool
to answer research questions in the biomedical field. MSI is an imaging technique that allows
the visualization of molecules. In biological tissue, it can locate biochemical compounds such
as proteins, lipids and metabolites, which provides mechanistic insight into biological processes
and helps us understand diseases such as cancer. The MSI technique best positioned for tissue
analysis is timeofflight secondary ion mass spectrometry (ToFSIMS) because it has the
highest spatial resolution of all the molecular MSI techniques and can detect many biochemical
species with high sensitivity. Thus far, ToFSIMS has been extensively used in research
involving relatively lowmass molecules such as lipidomics and metabolomics [1].
Unfortunately, it is still difficult to detect large molecules such as intact proteins with a typical
ToFSIMS instrument so labelfree SIMS imaging of proteins in biological materials is not
currently feasible. However, it is possible to conduct MSIbased immunohistochemistry (IHC)
using metallabeled antibodies and then detect the metals instead [2]. Combining labeled
protein imaging with the labelfree detection of lipids and metabolites in the same tissue section
would be extremely powerful as it will finally be possible to link the expression of a protein to
other spatial omics.

This PhD project aims to develop a methodology for MSIbased immunohistochemistry (IHC)
using our stateoftheart ToFSIMS instrument (PHI nanoTOF II) in order to obtain correlative
multiomic image data of biological samples. In particular, you will develop new sample
preparation protocols, experimental procedures and data analysis methods. You will then apply
this methodology to answer biomedical research questions in cooperation with internal and
external collaborators. You are expected to present your work in scientific journals and at
scientific conferences. In addition, you will be able to gain experience teaching and mentoring
bachelor and master students.

The PhD position will be supervised by Dr. Sebastiaan Van Nuffel and Prof. Ron Heeren. The
position is a 4year long (fulltime) paid position.
The terms of employment are set out in the
Collective Labour Agreement of Dutch Universities (caoNU) and supplemented by local Maastricht

University provisions.
The anticipated start date is the fall of 2022, but reasonable
accommodations can be made for
the right candidate.
[1] Van Nuffel, S. et al., Anal.Chem. 2020, 92, 12079.

[2] Bodenmiller, B. Cell Systems 2016, 2, 225.

Skills and qualification

A Master’s degree (GPA > 3.0) in Chemistry, Physics, Biochemistry, Materials Science,
Chemical Engineering or a related subject;

Proficiency in English (C1 or higher);

Lab experience with mass spectrometry and/or immunohistochemistry;

Capacity to quickly acquire new knowledge and master new skills;

Interest in both handson research activities and data analysis;

Ability to work independently and as a member of a research team;

Problem solving skills and creativity.

Preferred (if you have a couple of these, you are more likely to succeed):
Lab experience with (or indepth knowledge of) mass spectrometry imaging;

Lab experience with (or indepth knowledge of) histological techniques;

Lab experience with (or indepth knowledge of) optical microscopy;

Good knowledge of basic statistics and image data processing.

Desired (not vital, but highly appreciated):
Lab experience with (or indepth knowledge of) analytical instrumentation other than
mass spectrometry (e.g. EM, NMR, XPS, FTIR, etc.);

Programming skills.

How to Apply

Interested candidates are invited to submit a cover letter, an uptodate CV, translated copies of their
Bachelor and Master degrees (including transcript of records) and the contact details of at least two
references. Candidates can submit their application via
AcademicTransfer (reference: AT2022.428) or
by contacting Dr. Sebastiaan Van Nuffel (
s.vannuffel [at] directly