Fully funded PhD Position in European Research Council (ERC) – funded project in the field of Ageing, Health and Society

  • Contract
  • Belgium
  • Posted 2 months ago

Vrije Universiteit Brussel


22 Sep 2023
Job Information

Vrije Universiteit Brussel
End-of-Life Care Research Group
Research Field
Medical sciences » Health sciences
Medical sciences » Epidemiology
Psychological sciences » Psychology
Sociology » Other
Researcher Profile
First Stage Researcher (R1)
Application Deadline
23 Oct 2023 – 23:59 (Europe/Brussels)
Type of Contract
Job Status
Is the job funded through the EU Research Framework Programme?
Reference Number
Is the Job related to staff position within a Research Infrastructure?

Offer Description

Interested in conducting scientific research at the intersection of ageing, health and society and in obtaining a PhD degree?

The End-of-Life Care Research Group of Vrije Universiteit Brussel and Ghent University, one of the most renowned research groups worldwide in the field of ageing and the end of life, is looking to fill one PhD position (full-time appointment with PhD scholarship of 4 years) for the TRAJECT research project, funded by the European Research Council (ERC) and supervised by Prof dr Lara Pivodic.

The workplace is VUB Health Campus in Jette, Brussels.
The start date is between December 2023 and January 2024

As part of a multidisciplinary team of researchers, you will conduct a research project and write a dissertation on trajectories of physical and psychosocial well-being of towards older people’s end of life. Your work will be part of a large-scale mixed-methods and inter-disciplinary investigation of older people’s end-of-life trajectories, using approaches from epidemiology, sociology, medicine, anthropology and psychology. The TRAJECT project responds to the long-standing scientific challenge of identifying commonalities in end-of-life trajectories across groups of people, without masking important inter-individual differences. Its central aim is to gain understanding of what is generalisable and what is individually specific in older people’s end-of-life trajectories and in the circumstances that shape them.

As part of your work, you will:

  • Set up, prepare and conduct a large quantitative longitudinal study, together with a second PhD student and under the supervision of the project coordinator and a postdoctoral researcher. You will contribute to the ethics application of the project, prepare study materials, recruit participants, collect data through structured questionnaires, process and analyse quantitative research data and write scientific articles on the findings
  • Establish and maintain contacts with clinicians at the participant recruitment sites
  • Complete a doctoral dissertation within the topic of this project (PhD by publication)
  • Collaborate with an interdisciplinary team on the mixed-methods integration of the quantitative data of this study with the findings of a qualitative (narrative) study, running in parallel as part of the TRAJECT project
  • Ensure the project’s visibility by (co-)authoring scientific publications, presenting findings at national and international scientific meetings, communicating study findings to general audiences, helping organise scientific events, and by updating the project’s website and social media accounts
  • Contribute to logistic and administrative support of the project, together with all team members
  • Maintain contacts with the scientific advisory board of the TRAJECT project
  • Contribute to the activities of the End-of-Life Care Research Group


Research Field
Medical sciences » Health sciences
Education Level
Master Degree or equivalent

Research Field
Medical sciences » Epidemiology
Education Level
Master Degree or equivalent

Research Field
Psychological sciences » Psychology
Education Level
Master Degree or equivalent

Research Field
Sociology » Other
Education Level
Master Degree or equivalent


We encourage you to apply if you are a driven and passionate researcher with a

  • Master’s degree with honours/magna cum laude or an equivalent or higher study result in epidemiology, sociology, psychology, gerontology, health sciences, or a similar field by December 2023
  • Deep interest in and enthusiasm for research and strong motivation to embark on an early-career researcher position and complete a doctoral degree within the foreseen time frame
  • Demonstrable scientific skills and knowledge of research methods (e.g. through the quality of your master thesis and your academic background)
  • Very good skills in quantitative data analysis and high motivation to develop these skills further; very good skills in commonly used data analysis software (e.g. SPSS, STATA, R, etc.). Proficiency in advanced statistical analysis methods is an advantage.
  • Background (e.g. through your studies, internships, specialization courses, master thesis, previous employment etc.) in at least one of the topics of the project: population ageing, serious/chronic illness, end of life, health/illness trajectories; or otherwise demonstrated affinity with these topics
  • High level of written and oral communication skills in Dutch and English, especially academic English; mastery of additional languages commonly spoken in Belgium is a strong asset
  • Experience in work or research with vulnerable populations is highly appreciated
  • Collaborative, team-minded and pro-active attitude
  • Excellent self-management and planning skills and ability to work independently
  • …and if you have not yet held a position of doctoral bursary (doctoraatsbursaal) in Belgium for more than 6 months



Additional Information

Working in our multidisciplinary research environment has several advantages:

  • The opportunity to obtain a PhD within a large research project, funded by the European Union, which is expected to deliver groundbreaking scientific findings
  • A competitive full-time doctoral scholarship for the duration of 4 years, subject to favorable annual evaluation.
  • An engaging and varied job as a researcher on a subject of high societal relevance
  • effective guidance and supervision provided by experienced researchers
  • A pleasant workplace in a large research group with many other early-stage researchers and with many opportunities for professional development


Working at VUB has these additional benefits:

  • Full reimbursement for your home-work commute with public transport according to VUB-policy, or compensation if you come by bike;
  • Hospitalisation insurance;
  • Excellent facilities for sport and exercise;
  • Ecocheques;
  • Meals at affordable prices in our campus restaurants;
  • An open, family-friendly work environment where attention is paid to work-life balance, and exceptional holiday arrangements with 35 days of leave (based on a full-time contract). 

Selection process

Interested in joining our team?

Send to [email protected] and at the latest on October 23rd 2023

  • Your CV, with a list of your publications, if applicable
  • The highest degree you have attained and a list of your final grades
  • Letter of motivation, in which you outline your motivation to obtain a doctoral degree and where you explain your perspective on research on older people’s end of life.
  • A copy of your master thesis. If it is not completed yet, an abstract, the introduction and at least one full chapter
  • If applicable: another relevant writing sample
  • The name, institution and e-mail addresses of at least two referees from your academic and/or professional background who may be contacted for a reference
  • The selection procedure comprises the following:

  • First screening of applications and shortlist; notification of candidates outside of shortlist
  • For shortlisted candidates: A brief test of knowledge quantitative research concepts and understanding of statistics; followed by notification of candidates who did not pass test.
  • For candidates who passed test: interview on motivation, goals and perspectives regarding work on the TRAJECT project
  • Final selection and notification of candidates
  • If no suitable candidates are found after any of these steps the vacancy will be reopened after the closing date.

    Additional comments

    More information needed?

    If you have questions related to this vacancy, you can contact Prof dr Lara Pivodic ([email protected] ).

    Website for additional job details

    Work Location(s)

    Number of offers available
    Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Department of Family Medicine & Chronic Care, End-of-Life Care Research Group
    Postal Code
    Laarbeeklaan 103

    Where to apply

    [email protected]


    Laarbeeklaan 103
    [email protected]


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