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Molecular Cell Biology

The research group of Professor Spaink studies recognition of microbes by animal cells. Zebrafish is used as the major test organism as a model for the human system. We focus on the function of microbial signal molecules that play a role in innate immunity. Our major objectives are to study the way in which cells can recognize the difference between signal molecules produced by pathogens and commensal microbes.In particular, we currently focus on the function of signal recognition in the innate immune system.
Research projects:

  1. Analysis of the role of Toll-like receptors and downstream signalling pathways in the recognition of microbial signal molecules that regulate innate immunity.
  2. The function of Toll-like receptors signaling in the regulation of host metabolism.
  • Number of places available: variable but limited per project and per semester.
  • Duration of participation in the project: minimum of 6 months.


  • A profound knowledge of biochemistry and molecular biology is necessary.        

Faculty Department

Faculty of ScienceInstitute of Biology (IBL).

The Institute of Biology (IBL) brings together biologists working in many different subdisciplines (from ecology to evolutionary biology to molecular biology and metabolomics).

Research focuses on different levels, from molecule to cell, to organism to population. Studies deal with microorganisms, plants, fungi and animals (mainly insects and fish). Details can be found at the website of the IBL.

Research presentation by Adrian (Case Western Reserve University)

Learn more about Adrian's research project: Investigating the Biological function of proteins found in Mycobacteria in response to sterol exposure

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Through this experience, I was able to refine what I wanted to focus on in my future career and gain clarity on these decisions. AdrianCase Western Reserve University Read more

Alexandra (Rutgers - The State University of New Jersey)

“Every employer that I have interviewed with has asked about my time in the Netherlands and I am beyond grateful to have the chance to talk about this experience.”

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