Impact of environmental nitrogen deposition on allergic disease burden

KU Leuven

  • Louvain, Brabant Flamand
  • CDI
  • Temps-plein
  • Il y a 1 mois
The current rise in prevalence ofallergies to aeroallergens is incompletely understood and attributed to interactions between environmental changes such as air pollution and climate warming, and lifestyle changes. One of the possible, yet unexplored, additional drivers of increasing aeroallergen and allergy prevalence is nitrogen deposition. Increased nitrogen deposition leads to eutrophication of our flora. It has been demonstrated to impact the composition of pollen and hence their potential allergenicity. In thisproject we hypothesize that increased nitrogen deposition leads to increased allergenicity of pollen (the project will focus on birch and grass pollen) andhence more frequent and severe sensitization to pollen. We will evaluate exvivo the reactivity of patient (and healthy control) sera to pollen extracts grownin different (experimental or natural) environments adjusting for potential confounders. Using our approach we will be able to go beyond association and demonstrate causality (or not) and illustrate the impact of environmental nitrogen deposition on allergic disease burden.

The Belspo BRAIN-be project“NITROPOL-BE” aims to understand how nitrogen deposition affects pollen allergyburden in Belgium, adjusting for potential confounding by air pollution andclimate. NITROPOL-BE engages a multidisciplinary team of scientists (fromSciensano, KU Leuven, UNamur and UCLouvain), biodiversity conservationists,policymakers, and citizens (allergy patients) in Belgium. It aims to providethe scientific basis and evidence to support regional nitrogen depositionreduction and environmental policies as well as national health policies.

Your role:
  • You will (help to) collect field samples grown under different nitrogendeposition conditions (both environmental and experimental setup).
  • You will generate extracts, validate reproducibility and evaluate their allergenicity ex vivo on samples obtained frompatients and healthy controls. The techniques involved include immunoblotting,dot-blotting, biotin-streptavidin-based specific IgE determination and basophilactivation testing. Patient characterization will be performed via questionnaires(with active involvement of the candidate), routine specific IgE determination andskin testing.
  • Depending on the progress of the project, you will be involved inadditional related projects such as evaluating a link between nitrogendeposition and the increased burden and severity of birch-pollen related foodallergy (PR10-related cross-reactivity).
  • You will be the spokesperson for this project within our university as well as contact person with the collabo... For more information see
More Information

  • A PhD scholarship of 48 months (supervision KU Leuven, Prof. Rik Schrijvers)
  • Collaboration within an ambitious multicenter project with important societal consequences
  • A dynamic productive environment with opportunities for further development and training, embedded in a familial context.
  • Supervision of experienced scientists
  • Start date to be determined (possible from June 2021)
Eligibility criteria
  • Master in bio-medical, medicalsciences, bioscience engineering, biology
  • Graduation with distinction (or more)
  • Motivation and commitment for pursuing a PhD in allergy
  • Experience with in vitro work (Westernblotting, flow cytometry, cell culture) is recommended
  • Social skills to enable working in a dynamic environment, to take up a leading role, to be the spokesperson with collaborators and to provide the necessary and discrete contacts with patients and healthy controls.
  • Languages: very good knowledge of English, both orally and written. Good knowledge of Dutch is recommended.
  • Generic competences: proactive,communicative, accurate, able to work independently and in team, setting up and maintaining networks, good organization and coordination skills
Selection process

More information can be obtained via Prof. Dr. Rik Schrijvers (mail: ).

Candidates are invited to apply as soon as possible via the following link:

You can apply for this job no later than 30/06/2021 via the

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