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Internship position: Setting up and testing microfluidics systems with intestinal cell lines and stem cell derived intestinal organoids (location Utrecht) - Netherlands  

Pivot Park (company)

Posted on : 22 December 2017

Project Description

Setting up and testing microfluidics systems with intestinal cell lines and stem cell derived intestinal organoids
Period: 6-9 months (30-45 ECTS)
Location: Innovative Testing in Life Sciences & Chemistry, University of Applied Sciences Utrecht (UAS), Heidelberglaan 7, Utrecht
Supervisors: Stefan Vaessen (UAS), Annemarie Stam (UAS) and Michael Ponomarenko (PimBio BV)


Innovative Testing in Life Sciences & Chemistry (INT) is the research department of the Institute for Life Sciences and Chemistry of the University of Applied Sciences Utrecht. Our research group aims to develop, optimize and validate methods to assess safety and efficacy of (natural) compounds. Our in vitro methods are alternatives to animal testing, contributing to the refinement, reduction and replacement of animal experiments in life sciences (3Rs). We focus our research on: 1) Interactions of food and health; 2) Bacterial resistance to antibiotics; 3) Safety & efficacy of (natural) compounds and mixtures.


Within research project ‘2-Real-Guts’ (RAAK-Pro, ZonMw) INT works within a consortium of industrial and academic partners on the development of intestinal models. One of these models are stem cell derived intestinal organoids. Working with murine and porcine intestinal organoids, we developed a method to culture these originally three-dimensional organoids into a two-dimensional intestinal layer.

One of the next goals within the project is to incorporate these cultures into microfluidic devices. Microfluidic cell culture has significant advantages over macroscopic and static culture including the ability to more closely mimic a cell's natural microenvironment and to study low numbers of cells in high temporal and/or spatial resolution via automation, parallelization, on-chip analysis or direct coupling to downstream analytical chemistry platforms. At the same time, microfluidic cell culture offers reduced consumption of reagents, reduced contamination risk and the possibility of efficient high throughput experimentation. Within the consortium two manufacturers of micorofluidic devices are included and we will be using their systems. The first device is from PimBio BV and is a membraneless, gravity-driven or pump-driven, microfluidic perfusion system. The second device is from Micronit and is a Load ‘n Seal device in which a glass chip can be loaded in which the upper and lower compartment are separated by a PET membrane with 0,45 μm pores.


Setting up standardized protocols for setting up the two systems. This includes assembly and operating the systems as well as seeding and culturing cells (initially intestinal epithelial cell lines followed by intestinal organoids) in these systems. Once this phase has been completed, other (scientific) topics that can be addressed are some of the following: Determining the effect of flow on intestinal organoids (comparison with static culture) in terms of morphology, gene expression and compound absorption. What are the possibilities for co-culturing intestinal organoids with other cell types (immune cells or possibly even bacteria)? What are functional read-out parameters and how can we measure them?

Candidate requirements

• Experience with cell culture, preferably with stem cell derived organoids
• Interest in or experience with biomaterials/bioengineering
• Hands-on and goal-driven personality:
Setting up new systems without a lot of local knowledge (for us this is also a new field) requires an attitude that is focused on finding solutions, a trial-and-error mentality and practical skills
• Self-activating and independent personality

More information

Dr. Stefan Vaessen
Lectoraat Innovative Testing | Institute for Life Sciences & Chemistry | Hogeschool Utrecht |
Heidelberglaan 7| 3584 CS Utrecht Nederland |
Tel.: +31 (0)6 38150572 | E-mail: |