PhD position: The clinical utility of cancer detection during non-invasive prenatal screening






Non-invasive prenatal screening (NIPS) is routinely offered to all pregnant women to screen for fetal trisomy 21. Analyses cell-free DNA (cfDNA) can incidentally detect tumour-derived cfDNA shed by incipient maternal cancers. Given NIPS’s expanding use, more aberrant results indicative of a malignancy, emerge. As no large-scale prospective evaluations of cancer detection via NIPS exist, the sensitivity and specificity of NIPS for cancer detection are unknown. Furthermore, it has never been investigated whether a cancer diagnosis via NIPS leads to the identification of the malignancy at an earlier stage and whether this would lead to an improved outcome of the patient. The groups of Prof. Frédéric Amant (Gynecological Oncology, ‘cancer-in-pregnancy’ research) and Prof. Joris Vermeesch (Human Genetics, Cytogenetics and Genome Research) have been pioneering this topic. Prof. Frédéric Amant is internationally renowned as leading the agenda on cancer-in-pregnancy research and has established the International Network on Cancer, Infertility and Pregnancy (INCIP) to support this research. Prof. Joris Vermeesch is expert in liquid biopsy and recently developed an AI-based algorithm to improve the performance of NIPS for cancer detection and typing. In this project, this expertise will be leveraged to prospectively evaluate the performance characteristics and the clinical utility of NIPS for cancer detection in pregnancy in a large multicentric study involving several European countries.

  • We are looking for an enthusiastic and motivated candidate to start a joint PhD trajectory in the research groups of Prof. Frédéric Amant (Department of Oncology, Gynecological Oncology unit) and Prof. Joris Vermeesch (Department of Human Genetics, unit of Cytogenetics and Genome Research).

  • You have a master degree in Medicine and preferably you have a background in genetics or obstetrics.

  • You are passionate about scientific research. 

  • You have strong English language skills (additional language skills are an asset), as you will be interacting with partners from the International INCIP network (

  • Being hosted in a enthusiastic and multidisciplinary team, consisting of medical doctors, engineers, biologist and psychologists.

  • Participation to cutting-edge patient-oriented research.

  • Collaboration with European experts in the field.


For more information please contact prof. dr. Frédéric Amant mail:, dr. Liesbeth Lenaerts mail:, or prof. dr. Joris Vermeesch mail:

You can apply for this job no later than March 02, 2023 via the online application tool

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