Background and Working Environment 

Gait and balance deficits caused by vestibular disorders reduce the quality of life of millions of individuals. These disorders are poorly understood, difficult to diagnose and manage, and receive little attention despite their enormous personal and economic costs. To address the global burden imposed by vestibular disorders, the PROVIDE doctoral network will train 10 PhD students (doctoral candidates). These PhD students will conduct individual research projects to address key research challenges and develop new knowledge, tools, and approaches to advance care for individuals with vestibular disorders. PhD students will work collaboratively within an interdisciplinary and international consortium of experts in vestibular research, patient care, and medical device development. PhD students will gain diverse specialist, cross-sectoral, and transferable skills, empowering them to innovate solutions for these and other healthcare challenges. 

Are you interested? 

Recruitment is open! The application deadline is 28 March 2024. Positions may begin as early as June 2024. Each PhD student will be appointed in accordance with the conditions specified by the respective host organisation.

PhD (Doctoral Candidate) Qualifications 

To apply, you should have 

  • A(n) (almost) completed master’s degree in biomedical-related sciences (Medicine, Biomedical Sciences, Neuroscience, Biology, Pharmacy, Rehabilitation Sciences, or other related disciplines). 
  • Commitment to advance the understanding and treatment of vestibular disorders through . innovative research in biology, neuroscience, neurology, otolaryngology (ear, nose, and throat), and engineering. 
  • Excellent English presentation and writing skills. 
  • Good organizational and communication skills. 
  • Ability to work both independently and collaboratively as well as within an interdisciplinary and international environment. 
  • Additional qualifications/skills specific to a particular position are outlined at in the descriptions of the corresponding position. 

EU Mobility Criteria 

Successful candidates must fulfil the mobility criteria defined by the European Commission. Specifically: 

  • At the time of recruitment by the host organisation, researchers must not have resided or carried out their main activity (work, studies, etc.) in the country of their host organisation for more than 12 months in the 3 years immediately prior to the reference date. 
  • Applicants should not already be in possession of a PhD title 

Additional Information 

For more information about a specific position please contact the person indicated for that position. For general  information about the PROVIDE doctoral network, please contact 

Applying for a Position 

We welcome your application if you are interested in and qualified for one or more of the PhD positions. To apply, please use the digital application form available in the online portal. Only submissions through this portal will be considered. In your motivation letter, please indicate the PhD position(s) for which you are applying. The application deadline is 28 March 2024. Upon submitting the digital application form, you will promptly receive an email confirmation containing additional details. 

Project Descriptions

Challenge 1: Advance Understanding of the Individual Aetiology Underlying Vestibular Loss 

Vestibular dysfunction arises from damage to sensorineural structures in the inner ear. Traditional methods fall short in linking this damage to specific symptoms associated with vestibular disorders. PROVIDE leverages innovative techniques to examine biopsies, animal models, and inner ear organoids, to identify the causes of dysfunction and pioneer new treatments for vestibular disorders. 

Host organisation: Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Germany 
Contact: Prof. Andreas Zwergal,  

The doctoral candidate will employ advanced imaging methods to investigate brain adaptation in response to vestibular loss, utilizing both animal models and individuals affected by vestibular loss. This research aims to uncover structural and functional brain changes associated with vestibular loss and establish connections between vestibular loss and complex cognitive symptoms.

Additional qualifications: preferably an academic background in biology or veterinary medicine. Basic skills in animal research, neuroscientific methods, imaging methods, and optional IT or basic coding skills (e.g. Python) are highly valued.

Estimated Gross salary (per month) €3942.20*

Host organisation: University of Barcelona, Spain
Contact: Prof. Jordi Llorens  

The doctoral candidate will use cutting edge techniques—including vestibular reflex tests, videography, RNAscope technology, transcriptomics, immunofluorescence, confocal microscopy, and quantitative imaging—to correlate functional deficits with inner ear pathology assessed using both animal models and biopsy samples from individuals with vestibular loss. 

Additional qualifications: Experience with animal models, as well as skills in immunofluorescence staining and confocal microscopy, are highly valued.

Estimated Gross salary (per month) €3704.20*

Host organisation: University Pompeu Fabra, Spain 
Contact: Prof. Berta Alsina  

The doctoral candidate will utilize human inner ear organoids and state-of-the-art CRISPR gene editing techniques to identify the intrinsic (genetic) and external (hormonal) factors that modify susceptibility to damage and potential for repair as part of vestibular disorders. 

Estimated Gross salary (per month) €3704.20*

Challenge 2: Improve Characterization of the Symptoms Associated with Vestibular Loss 

Vestibular disorders involve a range of complex and individualized symptoms that can vary depending on the context. Existing tools, such as questionnaires and clinical tests, often fall short in accurately capturing these symptoms. PROVIDE utilizes advanced home-based digital techniques, clinical markers, and telemedicine algorithms to improve the capture and interpretation of relevant symptoms and enhance the diagnosis and management of vestibular disorders. 

Host organisation: University Medical Center Maastricht, the Netherlands 
Contact: Prof. Raymond van de Berg  

The doctoral candidate will evaluate the usability and impact of real-time symptom reporting via a mobile app for individuals with vestibular loss, integrating these data into a machine-learning platform to guide more effective management strategies for vestibular disorders. 

Estimated Gross salary (per month): 4326.40*

Host organisation: University of Antwerp, Belgium 
Contact: Prof. Vincent van Rompaey  

The doctoral candidate will develop a battery of objective clinical tests that comprehensively assesses vestibular loss—including measures of vestibular (peripheral) function—and integrate these data into a machine-learning platform to guide more effective management strategies for vestibular disorders. 

Estimated Gross salary (per month): 4000.00*

Host organisation: The French National Centre for Scientific Research, CNRS, France 
Contact: Dr. Christian Chabbert  

The doctoral candidate will analyze hormonal profiles in both animal models and patients with vestibular disorders to investigate how hormones affect vestibular function. This research aims to uncover new biological markers and risk factors associated with vestibular loss.

Additional qualifications: Experience in handling animals, along with relevant certifications, is highly valued.  

Estimated Gross salary (per month): 4557.60*

Host organisation: University Medical Centre Groningen, the Netherlands 
Contact: Dr. Sonja Pyott  

 The doctoral candidate will utilize clinical and population-based biobanks assembled by PROVIDE to assess the prevalence of vestibular loss and identify the environmental and genetic risk factors associated with vestibular loss, providing insight into the mechanisms underlying vestibular disorders and indicating strategies to better manage vestibular disorders.

Additional qualifications: Experience in data management and processing and proficiency in programming and/or bioinformatic tools and software are highly valued. 

 Estimated Gross salary (per month): 4326.40*

Challenge 3: Expand Treatment to Restore Vestibular Function Based on Need 

Clinically available treatments cannot restore vestibular function and instead aim to promote compensation by other mechanisms, minimize symptom severity, and/or reduce anxiety and depression. PROVIDE advances existing haptic biofeedback technology, neuromodulation, and vestibular implant stimulation to bring these technologies to the real-world (home) setting to restore vestibular function. 

Host organisation: BalanceBelt, the Netherlands 
Contact: Erland Fuglsbjerg,

The doctoral candidate will utilize international patient cohorts assembled by PROVIDE to conduct a multi-center safety and efficacy testing of the BalanceBelt, a wearable device providing haptic feedback for individuals with vestibular loss. For this position, the DC will also be supervised by the UMCG, which is also the PhD-awarding entity. 

 Estimated Gross salary (per month): 4326.40

Host organisation: Ludwig Maximilians University Munich, Germany 
Contact: Prof. Andreas Zwergal, 

The doctoral candidate will enhance an existing neurostimulator to provide safe and effective use in daily life and evaluate its efficacy in various populations using various measures. Parallel work will examine the neuroprotective role of neurostimulation in animal models of vestibular loss. 

Additional qualifications: preferably an academic background in (neuro-)engineering, neurophysiology or data science. Basic skills in data science (e.g. deep learning), statistics, coding (e.g. matlab, Python), and optional previous experience in clinical neuroscience, gait and balance assessment.

Estimated Gross salary (per month): 3942.20*

Host organisation: MEDEL, Austria 
Contact: Dr. Patrick Hübner  

The doctoral candidate will develop and evaluate hardware and software concepts that enhance the usability of vestibular implant processors and vestibular clinical fitting tools. The candidate will investigate design changes that improve the ergonomics of a vestibular implant in the daily life of patients. Further, the candidate will develop and test intuitive fitting strategies that can optimize and streamline the clinical fitting of vestibular implants. The developed strategies will be evaluated in collaboration with clinical partners within the network.

Additional qualifications: A background in mechatronics, electronics, bioengineering, or a related field, coupled with proficiency in at least one of these programming languages: C, C++, C#, or Python, is highly valued. 

Estimated Gross salary (per month): 4214.20*

* The estimated gross salary is calculated based on European Union requirements and adjusted according to specific country factors. Final salary adjustments are subject to the policies of the local institution.