Vacancy PhD molecular diagnostics / ethical TA

The University of Twente is a research university, located in Enschede, the Netherlands. Prominent research areas are nanotechnology, ICT, biomedical technology, policy studies, behavioural sciences, mechanics and process technology. More than 7, 000 students and 2,700 employees live, work, and participate in recreation at the University of Twente, the only campus university of the Netherlands. The Department of Philosophy, part of the Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, is responsible for the Master of Philosophy of Science, Technology and Society (PSTS).

We invite applications for:

PhD-vacancy: Molecular diagnostics: towards a realistic form of ethical Technology Assessment

The research will be conducted within the 3TU.Centre for Ethics and Technology (3TU.Ethics), in which the Department of Philosophy participates. 3TU.Ethics is one of six Centres of Excellence of the three universities of technology in the Netherlands (Delft, Eindhoven and Twente). The mission of 3TU.Ethics is to carry out high-quality research into ethics and technology. For further information please see and

Project description

Molecular diagnostics promises to make diseases visible long before they manifest themselves with clear symptoms level. Furthermore, this new technology promises to deliver its results anywhere, whenever wanted, fast and cheap. If these promises come true, a rapid proliferation of self-tests is to be expected.

This project aims to investigate the ethical implications and aspects of molecular diagnostics. However, technical and scientific promises have often proven to be over-optimistic. For this reason, this ethical research will start from the ‘realistic’ assumption that molecular self-tests too will in practice generate false, uncertain, ambiguous or impractical results. The overarching research question is: how to integrate this kind of sober realism into ethical Technology Assessment in general, and into the assessment of molecular diagnostics in particular? Sub-questions will be: why do many scientists and technologists over-promise? To what extent are they forced to do so by their institutional environment? How to be more responsible in promising (or warning against) future technologies? How to improve the process of technology development with respect to raising future expectations?


You will conduct your research in four years and write a dissertation on the basis of some scientific articles.


You have graduated in philosophy and have a demonstrable interest in technology and affinity with empirical research methods. Or you have a background in Science and Technology Studies, with a demonstrable affinity in (moral) philosophy. You are able to collaborate with technologists and possess a general knowledge of biomedical technology and/or nanotechnology. You possess excellent communicative capacities and English language skills.


We offer a contract for four years. The salary is Euro 1956.00 (before taxes) a month in the first year, increasing to Euro 2,502.00 (before taxes) a month in the fourth year.

Information and application

For more information you can contact dr. T.E.Swierstra (tel: ++31 53 489 3314, e-mail: or dr. M. Boenink (tel.: 053-4893309, e-mail: An extended project-description is available. Your letter of application, including a curriculum vitae, should be sent before October the 22nd to University of Twente,, director of the Faculty of Behavioural Sciences, P.O.Box 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands. Please state the vacancy number clearly: 07/159.

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