CAREER OPPORTUNITY: PhD candidate position in close collaboration with industry (Baekeland mandate)


PhD candidate position in close collaboration with industry (Baekeland mandate) on the development of blood-based biomarkers for the evaluation of intestinal health in broiler chickens.

Intestinal health of poultry has broad implications for the systemic health of birds, animal welfare, animal performances, food safety, and environmental impact. The gastrointestinal tract has digestive, absorptive, metabolic, immunological and endocrinological functions. In poultry production, major problems are of intestinal origin, including gut inflammation, dysbiosis and intestinal pathogens, including Salmonella and Clostridium perfringens. Besides, also mycotoxins and heat stress have been shown to have severe negative impact on intestinal health. The last decade, a variety of products have been developed as feed additives to stimulate intestinal health. However, in order to diagnose gut health problems and to demonstrate efficacy of these feed additives under experimental and field conditions, efficient biomarkers are necessary. Therefore, the aim of this PhD project is to develop blood-based biomarkers for the evaluation of gut health in broiler chickens, and subsequently validate these markers using different challenges in combination with different feed additives.

The candidate will prepare together with the academic and industrial promoters an application for a Baekeland mandate (submission March 2020, A Baekeland mandate is a project that is assigned to a ‘consortium’ involving at least a PhD-candidate, a Flemish company (Impextraco) and a Flemish university (Ghent University). This type of PhD funding gives the opportunity to carry out research in close collaboration with industry. On the one hand, a Flemish company is involved; this determines the strategic orientation of the project and ensures co-funding. On the other hand, Ghent University is responsible for supporting and awarding a PhD in accordance with the usual quality standards.

Impextraco is a producer and supplier specialised in micro-ingredients and additives for the animal feed industry. This international player from Heist-op-den-Berg develops and commercializes functional ingredients that support feed safety, animal health and which optimize the nutritional quality of animal feed (

The researcher is expected to develop his/her own research plan, within the scope of the described project aims, under the guidance of the promoters. This will involve both in vitro experiments and in vivo trials with broiler chickens.

What do we offer?

  • Working in a pleasant environment with a young and dynamic team at Ghent University
  • Working in close collaboration with the industrial partner Impextraco
  • The opportunity to obtain a PhD and take the next step in your research career
  • Employment during project preparation phase guaranteed by industrial partner


Profile of the candidate

  • Master degree in Bioscience Engineering, Biotechnology, Veterinary Medicine or equivalent
  • Excellent communication skills and proficient in English
  • Highly motivated and team-oriented
  • You are driven to explore research questions independently and in depth
  • You have a specific interest in research valorisation and feed additive industry


How to apply

Send your motivation letter, scientific resume, relevant publications (when applicable), and two reference contacts to Prof. dr. Gunther Antonissen with dr. Astrid Koppenol by e-mail before August 31, 2019. After a first screening, suitable candidates will be invited for an interview.