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Universiteit Twente

PhD position : Optimizing the Diagnostic Pathway for Clinical Management of Lung Cancer using Liquid Biopsies and Medical Imaging


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

Job description

Lung cancer is characterized as one of the most malignant tumors with significant mortality and a large health and economic burden. The prognosis is often very poor, because a majority of cases present with advanced stage disease when treatments can rarely achieve cure. For that reason, CT-based screening programs are proposed in different countries. Yet, screening programs are known for their down-stream effects on hospital resources, because patients are referred for additional diagnostic procedures which allow identification of tumors and possible metastases, both by physical examination as well as via biopsy. Mutation profiling and other high-sensitive technologies for early detection are expected to contribute to targeting treatments to the right people and thus health outcomes.

The survival of patients with lung cancer has also improved with the introduction of targeted treatment. Personalized treatment of non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) depends on the identification of genetic aberrations in the tumor tissue. The efficacy of a targeted treatment depends on the combination of an inhibitor and the driver mutation, and on the occurrence of resistance during treatment. This illustrates the complexity of targeted treatment, i.e. the emergence of resistance and the direct therapeutic consequences of different combinations of mutations. With the availability of more second and third generation inhibitors (and immunotherapy such as Nivolumab) more different resistance mechanisms are expected to occur resulting in an increasingly complex decision scheme for an optimal treatment.

Compared to medical imaging and physical examination, liquid biopsies offer a less costly and userfriendly alternative for the detection of progression of lung cancer, and for monitoring of resistance to drug treatment. The aim of the project is to evaluate the possibilities of modelling the diagnostic variables, including imaging, tissue biopsies and liquid biopsies to develop a tool to guide the choice of optimal therapy during the course of treatment.

The PhD project will be answering the following questions:
1. What is the diagnostic value of liquid biopsies compared to a strategy using imaging, tissue biopsy and physical examination to guide treatment decisions in metastatic NSCLC;
2. What is the appropriate timing and interval of (follow-up) liquid biopsies in clinical management of NSCLC patients receiving targeted treatment;
3. What is the best strategy using liquid and tissue biopsies in selecting an appropriate Tyrokinase Inhibitor (TKI) treatment;
4. How does the dis/concordance between liquid and tissue biopsies influence treatment decisions;
5. What is the optimal use of diagnostic tests to avoid over- and undertreatment, given the constraints in healthcare budgets.

Datasources and collaboration
The project requires access to high-quality clinical data sources. Therefore, a structural collaboration has been established with centers of reference, such as the Dutch Cancer Institute and the University Medical Center Groningen. The primary supervision will be provided by prof. IJzerman, dr. Retèl and dr. Koffijberg (UTwente), dr. D. van den Broek (Netherlands Cancer Institute) and prof. H Groen (University Medical Center Groningen). The PhD project is linked to several other projects working on liquid biopsies in cancer such as the IMI funded Cancer-ID (PI: prof. Terstappen en prof. Pantel).


You are a highly motivated, talented and enthusiastic candidate with a pro-active attitude and excellent communication and collaborative skills. Furthermore, the position is open to highly qualified people with a background in statistics, operations research, industrial engineering, medical informatics or econometrics but with clear interest in biomedical technology and clinical management of complex diseases such as cancer. 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 26 February 2017. For more information on this position please contact professor Maarten IJzerman (m.j.ijzerman@utwente.nl) / +31 53 4893684 or dr. Valesca Retèl (v.retel@utwente.nl).

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

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+).


Closing date: 26.02.2017
Closing date: 26 February 2017 Erschienen auf academics.de am 08.02.2017
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