ESR 1: Initiate a pilot prevention trial in individuals at high risk for developing rheumatoid arthritis

PhD research


Dr Ronald van Vollenhoven

PI | Professor and Chair | MD PhD

Amsterdam Rheumatology and immunology Center (ARC)

Rheumatology & Clinical Immunology

Location AMC | D3-220 | Meibergdreef 9 1105 AZ Amsterdam

T: +31205668998  |  E: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Duration: 48 months


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic immune-mediated inflammatory disease of unknown etiology. In the majority of affected individuals the disease is chronic with a life-long need for treatment. Individuals at high risk (>80%) of developing RA in the following 2 years can now be identified using a combination of clinical and laboratory-based variables. Therefore, it is of great interest to determine if an immunomodulatory treatment can prevent the disease. To demonstrate this, a randomized clinical trial is needed.


High-risk individuals are encountered in rheumatology practice and may also be actively recruited through existing patients (family history being a risk factor). The ESR will work on the design of a clinical trial for such individuals, including developing the structure of the trial, seeking input from all stakeholders (such as at-risk individuals and patients), formatting according to standard protocols, obtaining the necessary approvals, and developing a recruitment plan. The ESR will actively recruit participants to the trial, obtain informed consent, and liaise with the clinical team to ensure that the study procedures are followed. Participants will also be asked to consent to collecting biomaterials, including synovial and lymph node tissues when applicable.  

Our research team

Working together within the Amsterdam Rheumatology and immunology Center (ARC) and being embedded in the Amsterdam Infection & Immunity Institute (AI&II) gives us excellent opportunities to work closely together with both rheumatologists as well as immunologists on clinical and translational research projects. Collaboration with the large group of rheumatologists within the ARC as well as with the funding and patient advocacy organization ReumaNederland provides access to at-risk individuals. For our research program lymph node biopsy procedures are performed in close collaboration with the department of Radiology while synovial tissue biopsies are routinely collected within our department. We are involved in several national and international research projects, allowing excellent possibilities for collaborations with other research groups in academia as well as industry. 

Your profile

We are looking for a highly motivated and enthusiastic researcher with:

  • - A master degree in Biomedical Sciences or similar
  • - Demonstrated interest in or affinity for autoimmune diseases research
  • - You have a flexible, pro-active team spirit but you can also work independently
  • - You like to show initiative and you have talent for focus and organization
  • - You have excellent communications skills in English, both written and verbal.

Our offer

All ARCAID ESRs receive a full employment contract for 4 years, according to the Collective Employment Agreement (CAO) of the Dutch University Medical Centres. The monthly salary based on a 36-hour work starts from €2.422,- with yearly increments to a maximum of € 3.103,-. This 4-year PhD position is funded by the  Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions of the European Union's Horizon 2020 COFUND program under grant agreement No 847551. There is no separate budget available for mobility as it is already included in the ESR salary. ESRs may attend external courses, conferences or workshops. If applicable or required, additional expenses for training and conference participation and the travel to a Partner Organisation will be covered by the project. The ESR salary meets the requirements of the Dutch Immigration Department to allow family members to move to the Netherlands. It is at the convenience of the ESR to decide on this family movement since the Amsterdam UMC will not cover additional expenses regarding mobility of spouse nor for the required accompanying residence permits. In addition to their individual scientific projects, all fellows will have the opportunity to attend international progress meetings, scientific conferences and summer schools. Additionally, they benefit from further continuing education, which includes internships and secondments, a variety of training modules as well as transferable skills courses. See recruitment procedure.

Your application

See recruitment procedure. You can apply using the online application form. For more information about the project you can contact Dr. Ronald van Vollenhoven.