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University of Twente

PhD position A Systems Approach to Optimize the Use of Whole Genome Sequencing in Personalized Oncology


Function types
Scientific fields
Job number
About employer
PhD positions
Natural Sciences, Engineering
38.0 hours per week
€ 2191
University Graduate
University of Twente (UT)

Job description

Personalized medicine driven treatments in major diseases like advanced melanoma and non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) offer important health benefits to genetic subgroups, but can be expensive and may induce severe side effects. Whole Genome Sequencing (WGS) simultaneously tests for all relevant genetic aberrations in tumor tissue from individual cancer patients thereby allowing immediate selection of optimal therapy. This approach is likely to improve patient survival, avoid adverse effects, and to assist in controlling health care costs by offering treatment to only those identified to benefit.

The recently funded Technology Assessment of Next Generation Sequencing in Personalized Oncology (TANGO) project aims to expand molecular profiling of tumors to improve immune- and targeted treatment by estimating the cost-effectiveness, budget impact, and system level consequences. This ground-breaking project will be performed by a large nation-wide consortium linked to the Center for Personalized Cancer Treatment (CPCT), including geneticists, pathologists, oncologists, health economists and ethical/legal experts. The project will develop models to support decision making using WGS and genetic testing for optimizing the outcome of targeted treatment in oncology. The project consists of 6 Work Packages, including studies on the diagnostic value of WGS and clinical utility of WGS for treatment decisions and long-term health benefits. The University of Twente leads WP 5, developing and implementing a dynamic system-level simulation model to predict the consequences of implementation of WGS in terms of access and organization of sequencing services.

The aim of the PhD project in WP 5 is to provide insight in the consequences of implementation of WGS in the Netherlands from a systems perspective to improve access to these services and thus health care delivery. This requires information about the availability of WGS services, the number of facilities offering clinical oncology services and prescription of advanced molecular drug treatment and the adoption of clinical guidelines such as the use of panels of biomarkers. Due to the complexity of healthcare delivery systems, dynamic simulation models are needed to then evaluate the intended and unintended consequences of implementing WGS on system level, to estimate the resources required, and freed, at different levels, including the strategic (policy decisions on implementation) and tactical level (patient management decisions).

The PhD project has multiple objectives:
1. Identify the requirements for developing the simulation model from different stakeholder perspectives, and identify the most appropriate modeling approach, for example agent-based modeling;
2. Obtain detailed data on current process of care as well as the dynamic interactions and decisions of physicians in managing oncology patients from stakeholder interviews and real-world data. Obtain data on facilities offering WGS services and the hospitals caring for related oncology patients, and on the availability and requested diagnostic procedures and reimbursement schemes for cancer drug treatment;
3. Develop a novel, dynamic system-level simulation model based on the approach identified in step 1 and the data collected in step 2, and validate this model;
4. Use the novel model to explore the implementation of WGS services in terms of access to services and treatment, and health economic consequences;
5. Advise on how to optimize health services planning regarding WGS in the Netherlands.

Datasources and collaboration
All required data will be collected within the TANGO project, from available data registries, from stakeholder interviews, or from literature. Patient characteristics, short and long-term outcomes, treatment sequences will be obtained from WP3. Data on clinical costs will be obtained from WP4. Finally, the actual data on over- and undertreatment comparing WGS to current diagnostics will be obtained from the literature and WP1&2.

The PhD candidate is expected to work with the different centers involved in the CPCT and TANGO project, including academic hospitals. This network also consists of 7 HTA-expert centers (Maastricht, Utrecht, VU, UMCG, EMC, NKI-AVL, and UTwente). The primary supervision will be provided by prof. IJzerman, dr. Koffijberg (UTwente), and dr Retèl (UTwente & NKI-AVL).

More information about the department Health Technology & Services Research is available from the website: https://www.utwente.nl/bms/htsr/


The position is open to highly qualified people with a background in statistics, operations research, industrial engineering, health sciences/epidemiology or econometrics. As the project requires complex analytical skills, the ideal candidate should have sufficient skills to analyze big data sets and apply advanced statistical and modeling methods.

Application and more information
To apply for this position, please use the link below and include your cover letter, resume and list of publications before 1 March 2017. For more information on this position please contact Professor Maarten IJzerman (m.j.ijzerman@utwente.nl) / +31 53 4893684 or dr. Erik Koffijberg (h.koffijberg@utwente.nl / +31 53 489 5384.

Conditions of employment

We offer a very challenging fulltime position for four years in an inspiring multidisciplinary and international environment. In accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities (CAO NU) the gross monthly salary ranges from € 2.191,- in the first year to € 2.801,- in the fourth year. Additionally, the University of Twente provides excellent facilities for professional and personal development, a holiday allowance and an end-of-year bonus, and a number of additional benefits. Your main responsibility will be to carry out research, but you will be given the opportunity to acquire some teaching experience as well.


The University of Twente. We stand for science and technology, high tech, human touch, education and research that matter. New technology which drives change, innovation and progress in society. The University of Twente is the only campus university in the Netherlands; divided over five faculties we provide more than fifty educational programs. The University of Twente has a strong focus on personal development and talented researchers are given scope for carrying out pioneering research. The Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences strives to hold a leading position in their fields in relation to the science and technology research programs of the University of Twente. In all these fields, the faculty provides bachelor, master and professional development programs.

Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences
The Faculty of Behavioural, Management and Social sciences (BMS) strives to play a pivotal role in understanding, co-engineering and evaluating innovation in society. Innovation is driven by advances in technology. Through 'social engineering' these technological advances are embedded in society befitting human needs and behaviour, within proper public and private management and business structures. For this the faculty of BMS upholds high quality disciplinary knowledge in psychology, business administration, public administration, communication science, philosophy, educational science and health sciences. All with a focus on the challenges in society. Research is strongly connected to our Institutes on Governance (IGS), ICT (CTIT), Health (MIRA) and Nanotechnology (MESA+).


Erschienen auf academics.de am 10.02.2017
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