We are looking for a postdoc “Computational modelling of type 2 diabetes: interactions between biology and the social environment”
Applications are invited for a computational modelling position to work within an exciting project linked to the Health Systems Complexity team at the Institute of Advanced Study in the University of Amsterdam. The team is an interdisciplinary group of researchers, based in the Amsterdam Medical Center (AMC) and the Computational Science Lab (CSL), devoted to the use of mathematical and computational methods to understand biomedical and social processes and their interplay.
There is a growing consensus among public health researchers that the complexities underlying population health and its distribution cannot be unravelled by traditional methods; a shift in research paradigm to systems thinking is imperative to move this field forward. Multi-scale computational modelling approaches will be essential for improving population health and reducing health inequalities. The expertise in this field is still limited, however. To build this expertise we take up the challenge of applying systems thinking to type 2 diabetes (T2D). T2D is inherently a result of multiple processes acting at multiple scales, all the way from cell-biological (nutrition, stress, immune response) to population level (socio-economic status and public health policy). The link between these factors and T2D is complex, involving multifaceted, dynamic causal pathways. A systems approach that encompasses the complexity of these pathways, can support public health policy and practice in effectively tackling health inequalities.
Particularly novel to this project is that we will link human biology at the cellular level (metabolism, stress, immune response) to social environment processes in order to better understand and exploit their interplay and establish how social processes “get under the skin”. In the spirit of complex system modeling, the question is how the onset of obesity and T2D are an emergent phenomenon of bio-physical processes coupled with population-level processes.
This computational modelling PostDoc will collaborate closely with two existing Ph.D. students on public health and system dynamics modeling. The aim of the newly developed bio-physical model is to integrate it into a broader, existing system dynamics model which will link the bio-physical outcomes to the other relevant processes at different scales. It is also a wish to understand exactly if and how the complex behaviors of the immune response model interacts with (has synergy with) the higher-level processes which influence T2D, motivating the necessity of inclusion of the bio-physical level in the same model as the population level, which has not been done previously.
The candidate for this position:
This project is a collaboration between the Computational Science Laboratory and the AMC department of Public Health, both University of Amsterdam.
The mission of the Computational Science Laboratory of the University of Amsterdam is to perform curiosity driven and use-inspired fundamental research in Computer Science. The research in the institute involves complex information systems at large, with a focus on Collaborative, Data Driven, Computational and Intelligent Systems, all with a strong interactive component .
The mission of the Department of Public Health of the AMC is to perform high quality research in the field of public health, health promotion and health services research. This research aims to contribute to the scientific evidence that is needed to support policies aimed at fostering and improving the health of populations at local, national and international levels. Particular attention is given to the health situation and health care needs of socio-economically deprived groups.
The data available within the project includes the Helius dataset (a multi-ethnic, population-based cross-sectional cohort study of around 25,000 participants) (www.heliusstudy.nl). Another asset of the project is data available from a validated agent-based model for immune response, named Mission-T2D, through a collaboration with the National Research Council of Italy (CNR).
Additionally, expertise is present within AMC on the relevant potential pathways between social factors and bio-physical factors, such as the stress-gut pathway. Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of the candidate to collect the relevant biological knowledge describing biological mechanisms linking stress and metabolic disorders impinging upon inflammation. These mechanisms could eventually be integrated into the Mission-T2D architecture through the collaboration with the CNR. This new model will be coupled with the currently developed individual-social-level model.
Also, expertise is present within CSL on complex system analysis and emergent phenomena, in order to analyse the relative role of the bio-physical processes.
Finally, we offer an ambitious environment, with excellent supervision, and critical, open-minded and inspiring interactions with scientists from a broad range of disciplines. Excellent computer facilities are offered for the PhD computational modelling.
Appointment and salary
We offer a fulltime contract (36 hours) on a temporary basis for 2.5-3 years. Based on a full-time appointment (36 hours per week) the gross monthly salary will range from EUR 3.312,00 to EUR 4.361, depending on experience. Holiday allowances of 8% and end year payment 8.3% of the gross yearly salary.
For an overview of all our other terms of employment, see www.werkenbijamc.nl/arbeidsvoorwaarden-amr
If you would like to apply directly, please use the ‘apply’ button on this page.
Informal enquiries can be addressed to Dr. Rick Quax (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Prof. Peter Sloot (email@example.com).
We look forward to meeting you!
A screening and/or medical examination may be part of the selection procedure. This requires access to DigiD.