Novel microfluidic technologies for forensic sample investigation





The Laboratory for Forensic Genetics and the Biosensors group are looking for a PhD researcher to work on novel microfluidic technologies for forensic sample investigation. The Laboratory for Forensic Genetics, led by Prof. Bekaert, is part of the Department of Forensic Medicine at UZ Leuven and is an established laboratory in the Department of Imaging and Pathology at KU Leuven. The Laboratory for Forensic Genetics has recently started a collaboration with the MeBioS-Biosensors group within the Biosystems Department at KU Leuven. The Biosensors group, headed by Prof. Jeroen Lammertyn, develops novel bio-molecular detection concepts and miniaturized analysis systems, focusing on bio-assay development, optical sensors, and microfluidics.

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The low efficiency of current DNA extraction procedures and the deconvolution of complex DNA profiles required after bulk sequencing, remain major challenges for forensic DNA laboratories and has significant impact on the ability to include or exclude a suspect as a donor. We have recently demonstrated that fluorescence-activated cell sorting has significant potential to increase the sensitivity of forensic DNA analysis. 

In this project, we aim to build further on these advancements by (1) designing and developing a cell preselection microfluidic device for application in one of the most common samples in forensic investigations (i.e. trace contact samples) and (2) validation and accreditation of this new analytical protocol in an ISO17025 accredited laboratory. This project is part of an ongoing collaboration between the Laboratory for Forensic Genetics and the MeBioS-Biosensors group allowing the candidate to develop a large array of transdisciplinary skills while contributing towards the development of an innovative solution for the analysis of male-female mixture samples in complex forensic casework.

Your work will focus on: 

  • Design, fabrication and validation of microfluidic chips for cell sorting (autoCAD, soft lithography, microfluidic pumps, widefield microscopy) 

  • Forensic DNA profiling analysis (PCR, CE and NGS – MiSeq/Nanopore)

  • Statistical analysis (including analysis of NGS data)


  • You will develop microfluidic devices using soft lithography techniques 

  • You will perform cell sorting experiments using microfluidic techniques followed by forensic DNA profiling.

  • You will perform statistical analysis including large datasets.

  • You will supervise lab rotation students and master students.

  • You will report your data to your supervisors, other researchers, as well as at (international) conferences.


A PhD candidate should fulfil the following requirements:

  • You have a Master's degree cum laude in Bioscience Engineering, Biomedical Engineering, (Bio)Medical Sciences, Biophysics or equivalent

  • You are highly motivated to do research in dynamic environment and as part of this unique interdisciplinary project

  • You are communicative, creative, eager to learn and able to work independently as well as part of the team 

  • You are familiar with general laboratory practices and have attention to details

  • You have knowledge of microfluidic systems, preferentially polymer-based microfluidic devices, and basic knowledge of standard molecular biology techniques, DNA sample preparation and statistical analysis

  • You are familiar with software for microfluidic chips design (e.g. autoCAD) and statistical analysis (e.g. SPSS, R studio)

  • You are eager to use engineering skills in the interdisciplinary field of microfluidics and forensic research with a strong hands-on attitude

  • You have a strong and proven knowledge of the English language, both talking and writing, according to the KU Leuven English language criteria 

  • You are proficient in Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Teams


We offer a doctoral position in a stimulating, interdisciplinary environment and scientific development opportunities in international and dynamic teams

  • You will be working on an interdisciplinary PhD at the interface between forensics and microfluidic technologies, supported by leading research teams with a widespread network of international and local collaborators, and in an excellent international research environment at KU Leuven.

  • You will have access to state-of-the-art research facilities and will be registered in a specific program of the doctoral school at the KU Leuven. A joint PhD between Biomedical Sciences and Bioscience Engineering at KU Leuven is possible. 

  • You will be supervised by well-trained scientists and receive thorough training in conducting research, presentations and writing.

  • Participation in an individually shaped PhD program with different opportunities to present and share data on weekly seminars, lectures and international conferences.

  • A full time 4-year (1+3) contract for a PhD position. The candidate will be encouraged to apply for personal funding.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Bram Bekaert, mail: or Prof. dr. ir. Jeroen Lammertyn, tel.: +32 16 32 14 59, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than April 17, 2023 via the online application tool

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