Onderzoeker in Opleiding Neonatologie WKZ

PhD position in (day)light interventions to improve developmental outcomes in preterm infants in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit

About the position

About the position
Over the past decades, there has been a sharp increase in the number of infants surviving preterm birth and an accompanying rise in the incidence of major (neuro-)developmental and behavioural disabilities in this vulnerable population. Since preterm neonates are typically admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU), it is essential to understand how the NICU environment can be optimized to improve long-term outcomes. A promising, non-invasive and cost-effective strategy is the improvement of (day)light exposure in the NICU.

We offer a 4-year full-time (1.0FTE) PhD position. Your project will focus on investigating the effect of (day)light exposure on the development of preterm infants admitted to the NICU, with the ultimate ambition to improve their clinical outcomes and quality of life. This is an interdisciplinary project at the intersection of neonatology, chronobiology, and data science. In a prospective multicenter observational study, you will work on establishing the impact of light-dark cycles on preterm infants’ development, including their sleep, growth, neurodevelopmental outcomes, and circadian rhythms. In addition, you will investigate the feasibility of a behavioural intervention among nurses to improve daylight access in the NICU. The results of this project will allow us to define optimal light exposure in the NICU, to generate recommendations for new NICU designs, and to develop tailored light intervention strategies to improve daylight exposure in the NICU. 

This PhD position is part of the BabyBright project, which is funded by a grant from the Velux Stiftung. The initial contract will be for one year, which will be extended to a total of four years upon successful assessment. The end goal is a completed PhD thesis and a successful PhD defense. 

The department

The department
This project is part of an interdisciplinary collaboration between Dr. Jeroen Dudink (neonatologist and associate professor, UMC Utrecht) and Dr. Laura Kervezee (assistant professor in circadian medicine, Leiden University Medical Center). You will be working at the Department of Neonatology in the Division of Women and Infants of the Wilhelmina Children’s Hospital and collaborate intensively with clinicians and researchers from both institutes.   


Your profile

Your profile

  • You have obtained your master’s degree in technical medicine, biomedical sciences, neuroscience, or a related discipline
  • Because of the interdisciplinary and collaborative nature of this project, you have excellent communication and team-working skills
  • You can work independently and you like to take initiative
  • You have affinity with or interest in working with large datasets and programming (e.g., R or Python

    What we can offer

    PhD trajectory in a multidisciplinary academic environment with (inter-)national network in neonatal neurology research and circadian rhythm. We have a team of PhD students working on related topics and weekly research meetings. 



    Interviews for this position are planned on 3 October 2023.
    Questions about the project? Contact dr. Jeroen Dudink ([email protected]) and dr. Laura Kervezee ([email protected]). 

Get in contact

Do you have questions about the vacancy? Please contact us!

dr. Jeroen Dudink