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  2. Postdoc/Researcher Position in Photoacoustic Imaging of Cancer Cells and Tumors

Postdoc/Researcher Position in Photoacoustic Imaging of Cancer Cells and Tumors

Are you an enthusiastic researcher, aiming to solve real-world problems?

The BMPI group at University of Twente has a fully-funded, 18-month project for a postdoc or researcher, aimed at early detection of cancer on a tissue and cellular level. We aim to develop a photoacoustic microscope to detect cancer cells and tumors.

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    Sonia García Blanco
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    Marcel Karperien
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    Monica Morales Masis
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    Pieter Tuchter
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    Mireille Claessens

Key takeaways

  • Hours
    38 - 40 hr.
  • Salary indication
    Salary gross/monthly
    based on full-time
    € 3,226 - € 5,090
  • Deadline
    20 Mar 2024

Circulating tumor cells (CTCs) are among the earliest signs of metastasis or cancer spread in the body [1]. Thus, their detection can help catch metastasis early and treat it early. However, due to their rarity, and light and sound absorption by the skin, CTCs are difficult to detect in vivo.

Now, could CTCs be detected in the superficial mucus tissue in the mouth? In the shallow depth of the lower lip, both ultrasound and optical imaging can be used to image cells inside venules (small vessels) [2], [3], making the lower lip a perfect candidate for photoacoustic imaging (PAI) of CTCs. We aim to make a simplified in-vitro model of the lower lip and image flowing melanoma CTCs inside it using PAI.

A similar situation exists in the colorectum tissue, on a different scale: from cells to small tumors. We are working with the Netherlands Cancer Institute (NKI) in Amsterdam to detect colorectal tumors. As a response to therapy, many times, a colorectal tumor fragments into pieces [4]. Again, the mucus tissue in the colorectum allows us to monitor these tumor fragments using PAI [5].

Therefore, the core idea of this project is to develop and test a photoacoustic microscope (PAM) for (1) the detection of melanoma CTCs in an in-vitro flow setup, resembling the human’s lower lip, and (2) the detection of tumor and tumor fragments in ex-vivo colorectum tissue.

Key tasks

You will have access to equipment, devices, and samples to assemble the PAM and carry out the measurements. This project is in collaboration with the Netherlands Cancer Institute, and the AMBER group and the AST group at University of Twente. Besides access to medical and cell-research facilities, working with these institutes will expand your collaborative and scientific network.


[1] Dasgupta, Arko, Andrea R. Lim, and Cyrus M. Ghajar. "Circulating and disseminated tumor cells: harbingers or initiators of metastasis?." Molecular oncology 11.1 (2017): 40-61.

[2] Winer, Matan M., et al. "In vivo noninvasive microscopy of human leucocytes." Scientific Reports 7.1 (2017): 13031.

[3] Ghanbarzadeh-Dagheyan, Ashkan, et al. "Time-domain ultrasound as prior information for frequency-domain compressive ultrasound for intravascular cell detection: A 2-cell numerical model." Ultrasonics 125 (2022): 106791.

[4] Ghanbarzadeh-Daghyean, Ashkan, et al. "Application of a Photoacoustic Sensor for Colon Cancer Imaging: A Case Report." 2023 IEEE SENSORS. IEEE, 2023.

[5] Nagtegaal, I. D. & Glynne-Jones, R. How to measure tumour response in rectal cancer? An explanation of discrepancies and suggestions for improvement. Cancer Treat. Rev. 84, 101964 (2020).

Your profile

  • A PhD (or MSc.) in physics, biomedical engineering, biomedical imaging or a related field;
  • Knowledge and experience with photoacoustic and/or ultrasound imaging;
  • A can-do attitude and considering research challenges as opportunities;
  • Experience with coding in MATLAB (or Python);
  • Good communication and teamwork skills, with good command of English;
  • Self-motivation and strong interest in carrying out collaborative and independent research.

Our offer

  • A full-time position for 18 months, and the flexibility to work (partially) from home;
  • Your salary and associated conditions are in accordance with the collective labour agreement for Dutch universities (CAO-NU);
  • You will receive a gross monthly salary ranging from € 3.226,-  to €  5.090,- (salary scale 10) based on education and work experience;   
  • There are excellent benefits including a holiday allowance of 8% of the gross annual salary, an end-of-year bonus of 8.3%, and a solid pension scheme;
  • A minimum of 232 leave hours in case of full-time employment based on a formal workweek of 38 hours. A full-time employment in practice means 40 hours a week, therefore resulting in 96 extra leave hours on an annual basis;
  • Free access to sports facilities on campus;
  • A family-friendly institution that offers parental leave (both paid and unpaid);
  • Excellent career support and courses for your professional and personal development.

Information and application

Are you interested in this position? Please send your application via the 'Apply now' button below before March 20th, 2024, and include:

For questions please send an email to Dr. Ghanbarzadeh-Dagheyan (a.dagheyan@utwente.nl) or contact BMPI's chair Prof. Steenbergen via w.steenbergen@utwente.nl.

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About the department

At BMPI, we investigate the use of light for medical purposes. Our aim is to develop optical and hybrid optical-acoustical technologies for medical research and diagnosis, in particular in the fields of oncology, wound healing and microscopy. Physiological properties of primary interest to us are microcirculatory blood flow, hemoglobin concentrations, blood oxygenation and scattering properties in general.

Our approaches include physical research into light-tissue interaction and its measurement, biomedical engineering to realize suitable instrumentation for ex-/in-vivo use, and clinical evaluation together with several medical partners.

About the organisation

The Faculty of Science & Technology (Technische Natuurwetenschappen, TNW) engages some 700 staff members and 2000 students in education and research on the cutting edge of chemical technology, applied physics and biomedical technology. Our fields of application include sustainable energy, process technology and materials science, nanotechnology and technical medicine. As part of a people-first tech university that aims to shape society, individuals and connections, our faculty works together intensively with industrial partners and researchers in the Netherlands and abroad, and conducts extensive research for external commissioning parties and funders. Our research has a high profile both in the Netherlands and internationally and is strengthened by the many young researchers working on innovative projects with as doctoral candidates and post-docs. It has been accommodated in three multidisciplinary UT research institutes: Mesa+ Institute, TechMed Centre and Digital Society Institute.

Want to know more?

Ghanbarzadeh-Dagheyan, A. (Ashkan)

Ghanbarzadeh-Dagheyan, A. (Ashkan)

Ghanbarzadeh-Dagheyan, A. (Ashkan)

Do you have questions about this vacancy? Then you can contact Ashkan for all substantive questions about this position and the application procedure. For general questions about working for the UT, please refer to the chatbot.

How to apply

Step 1

When you see a vacancy that appeals to you, you can apply online. We ask you to upload a CV and motivation letter and/or list of publications. You will receive a confirmation of receipt by e-mail.

Apply now

Step 2

The selection committee will review your application and you will receive a response within 2 weeks after the vacancy has been closed.

Step 3

1st interview.
The 1st (online or in person) meeting serves as an introduction where we introduce ourselves to you and you to us. You may be asked to give a short presentation. This will be further explained in the invitation.

Step 4

2nd interview.
In the second interview, we will further discuss the job content, your skills and your talents.

Step 5

The offer.
If the conversations are positive, you will be made a suitable offer.

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About the TNW Faculty

Curious about what the Faculty of Science and Technology (TNW) stands for? Check out the Science and Technology website for more information.

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