The KU Leuven Laboratory of Food Chemistry and Biochemistry (LFCB) is recruiting a highly motivated researcher to conduct innovative scientific research in the field of animal feed science. The research project concerns the study of the prebiotic potential of fibers in both in vitro fermentation and in vivo broiler trials. This research project fits in the framework of a VLAIO O&O project that will be executed by the KU Leuven research group Laboratory of Food Chemistry and Biochemistry (LFCB; Prof. Christophe Courtin).

The LFCB is a leading laboratory in cereal science and technology. Its research mission is (i) to generate basic insights in the structure and properties of food and feed constituents, with a focus on cereals and (ii) to apply such insights with the aim to understand and improve processes, improve the organoleptic quality of the final product and/or health-related functionality in biotechnological processes where cereals are used.


The use of antibiotics in broiler feeds continues to be reduced globally. Hence, scientists are searching for new strategies to address the challenges this brings. Stimulating the intestinal microbiota by increasing its fermentation capacity toward the dietary fiber fraction is an emerging strategy to improve animal health and performance further. Fermentable oligosaccharides derived from fiber are known to be valuable microbial modulators. Upon fermentation, they can provide the host with desirable metabolic end-products, such as butyrate, thereby enhancing the broiler’s health status and ultimately performance.

However, a clear link between the structure of fermentable oligosaccharides and fibers in general and their prebiotic potential is not well established in the research field. Hence, the general aim of this research project is to establish a link between the structure of fibers and their prebiotic functionality as a feed supplement. A stepwise approach to explore this link in broiler feed is targeted. First, in vitro tests will be performed to assess the prebiotic potential of various self-produced structurally different fibers obtained from waste streams .

In a second phase, a selection of these will be validated as a prebiotic feed supplement on the basis of two large broiler trials. In addition to performance parameters, the microbiota and general welfare of the chickens will be examined. A better understanding of this structure-function relationship of fibers can ultimately open up new perspectives for the valorization of alternative and often less expensive fiber sources in the animal feeding industry.


  • Master’s degree in Bioscience engineering (animal production), Veterinary sciences or equivalent with distinction
  • Strong motivation for scientific research and all associated aspects (reporting, interaction with other researchers, taking part in education of MSc students,…) is a must
  • Adequate knowledge of English for scientific discussions and writing
  • Willingness to work at interdisciplinary boundaries, in close collaboration with the other project members and the industrial partner
  • Strong interest in animal feed science and animal production is a must
  • Experience with or an affinity for animal physiology and animal production systems is a must
  • Relevant training and expertise in conducting experimental research (in vitro and in vivo trials) is a plus


  • A full-time, fully funded PhD position for one year and renewable until four years, subject to meeting the requirements and deadlines set out by the supervisors and the Arenberg Doctoral School
  • A challenging job in an intellectually challenging and stimulating young and dynamic environment with state-of-the art infrastructure
  • Excellent guidance by our young, dynamic and multidisciplinary team of fellow PhD students, postdocs and promotors


For more information please contact Mrs. An Bautil, tel.: +32 16 37 48 71, mail: or Prof. dr. ir. Christophe Courtin, tel.: +32 16 32 19 17, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than June 15, 2022 via the online application tool

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