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PhD Position in Neuroscience at Wageningen University

PhD Position in Neuroscience at Wageningen University


PhD Position in Neuroscience at Wageningen University
PhD Position in Neuroscience at Wageningen University

In collaboration with Wageningen University, the RIVM is looking for a motivated and enthusiastic PhD candidate for a research project in flavor and sensory science to advise tobacco control.

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This PhD project aims to determine the effect of flavorings and flavors on the preference of tobacco and related products (TRPs) in different target groups.


Scholarship Sponsor National Institute for Public Health and the Environment & Wageningen University 
Scholarships level PhD Position
Award Amount Salary
Fellowship Period Four years
Study area Neuroscience, Sensory Science
Opening date March 03, 2021
Closing date March 21, 2021

Project Description

The attractiveness of TRPs is an essential determinant of their use and thus of future addiction to these products.

The scope of the research project

Many different types of flavourings, often also used in food products, are added to tobacco products. At high amounts, they result in a characterizing flavour other than tobacco, such as candy, fruit or menthol. In e-cigarettes, flavourings result in a wide variety of available flavours.

Characterizing flavours are prohibited in cigarettes and rolling tobacco, and only tobacco flavours will be allowed in e-liquids in the future. However, in other products, such as hookah products, heated tobacco products, cigarillos (small cigars that resemble cigarettes and have intense flavours) and nicotine pouches, flavours and flavourings are not yet regulated.

As with cigarettes and e-cigarettes, this raises questions on whether flavours make the product more attractive to use, especially for young people, and whether the preference of specific flavours differs per target group.

Also, given new future developments, we want to generalize our findings to all types of TRPs, as far as possible. This project is part of a research line dedicated to the attractiveness, addictiveness and toxicity of TRPs.

Your responsibility

The project is multidisciplinary, using different methods such as chemical analysis, neuroimaging, database analysis, surveys and sensory research. You will start by writing a systematic review.

Next, brain responses to various flavours present in the TRP context will be investigated in an fMRI study. Further studies will aim at the composition, reasons to use and liking of different TRPs.

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Based on the findings, advice will be given to the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport on the regulation of flavours in TRPs.

This multidisciplinary approach requires several types of expertise. Associate Prof Sanne Boesveldt (WUR) will be your promotor and Dr Reinskje Talhout (RIVM) your co-promotor.

You will be positioned at the RIVM, and you will closely collaborate with WUR. Part of your work will be conducted in their laboratories in Wageningen, so you must be flexible to work at two different locations.

Application Deadline

The deadline for applications is March 31, 2021 

Eligibility Criteria

We are seeking a candidate with excellent communication skills, a curious mind and a proven ability to connect and collaborate easily with others. The ideal person has excellent organization skills, is an independent worker, flexible and operates well in a multidisciplinary environment.

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Furthermore, you have;

  • A Master’s degree in sensory science, neuroscience, chemistry or comparable education in a related field and affinity with data analysis
  • Experience with human sensory and behavioural research, neuroimaging techniques. Survey and analytical chemical research experience on top would be a big plus point.
  • Ability to combine expertise from different fields and apply this in a pragmatic way to the project. Preference for a multidisciplinary approach to issues.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills in English at a level appropriate for scientific research
  • Published scientific publications is a pro. Verbal communication in Dutch is appreciated.

Award Information

The salary (36 hours working week) is determined based on Annex B of the Civil Servants’ Pay Decree 1984 and increases in 4 steps from scale 8, salary number 0 (€ 2623,34 gross per month) to scale 8, salary number 8, (€ 3279,32 gross per month) in the fourth year.

Other employment conditions

In addition to the salary, you will receive an Individual Choice Budget (IKB). The IKB consists of money (16.37% of your gross annual salary) and time. You can use the IKB to make the choices that suit you and compile some of your terms and employment conditions yourself.

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For example, you can choose to have part of your monthly income paid out whenever you wish.You can also convert this budget into leave and vice versa, or spend it on tax-friendly purposes.

The central government is keen to promote personal growth and career development and offers plenty of opportunities. The fringe benefits include various study facilities, company fitness, full reimbursement of your public transport commuting expenses and partially paid parental leave.

Application Process

If your resume is selected, please note that we scheduled the first selection interview on April 08 2021, and the next selection stage is scheduled on April 22 2021. Because of the COVID -19 precautions, we will interview via conference call. We would like to receive your letter and resume in a Word- or PDF-file via the digital link.

Apply Now

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