Job opportunity: PhD Position in Epidemiology Microplastics & Health at UMC Utrecht

The University Medical Center Utrecht is offering a 4-year full-time PhD 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. 


Employment Period: The initial contract will be for a period of one year, which will be extended to a total of four years upon successful assessment.

Salary: €2,495.00 gross per month - €3.196.00 gross per month based on full-time employment (36 hours). In addition, UMC Utrecht offers an annual benefit of 8.3%, holiday allowance, travel expenses and career opportunities.


About the Position:

This PhD 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. The research process 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. The team 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. You will write a PhD thesis (based on scientific publications) and follow courses at the Graduate School of Life Sciences.

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



  • An MSc in epidemiology, biomedical sciences, (medical) statistics, or a related discipline
  • An interest in environmental epidemiology theory, metabolomics, environmental health, risk assessment and reproductive and child health; experience with epidemiological analyses and analysis of -omics datasets is an advantage
  • The ability to work in a multidisciplinary team but also able to work independently, and someone who is highly self-motivated with strong problem-solving skills
  • Proficiency in written and spoken English


Application Process:

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

The starting date is somewhat flexible.

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.


UMC Utrecht believes in the power of a diverse team in which there is room for different skills, expertise, and social and cultural backgrounds. 

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.

For more information about the position, please click here.

To apply for the position, please click here.


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