PhD Bioinformatics (BRAINSCAPES)

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam
  • PhD Bioinformatics (BRAINSCAPES)
  • University Graduate
Do you like to understand why some people are more likely to become ill than others? Do you like working with big data on the intersection of genetics and neuroscience? Do you want to work in an ambitious team at the Department of Complex Trait Genetics of the Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research (CNCR)?  Please apply at Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam.

FTE: 0.8 - 1

Job description

The Complex Trait Genetics lab ( at the Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research in Amsterdam (see is seeking applicants for a PhD position in Bioinformatics. The successful candidate will be part of the BRAINSCAPES project, which is a 10-year nationwide collaboration funded by the Dutch Government (Gravitation Program), and led from the department of Complex Trait Genetics. The main aim of BRAINSCAPES is to gain mechanistic insight into several brain disorders by leveraging results from recent genetic discoveries, utilizing large-scale bioinformatic resources, and testing genetically informed hypotheses in experimental studies.

The work of the candidate will focus on applying existing tools (e.g. FUMA, MAGMA, TWAS, LDSC) that integrate bioinformatic resources (e.g. scRNAseq, mRNA, chromatin interaction data) with results from genetic discovery studies for brain related disorders. Interpretation of these results in neurobiological context will be a very important part of the work. The candidate will work in an enthusiastic team of PhD students and postdocs, with diverse backgrounds, including statistics, bioinformatics, artificial intelligence, neuroscience, psychology and stem cell biology.
We are seeking a highly motivated, talented individual. You need to have affinity with working with large datasets and be familiar with genome-wide association studies. Knowledge of the UNIX environment, R, some scientific programming experience, and affinity with neuroscience is preferred.

Your duties
  • apply bioinformatic tools for integrating results from genome-wide association studies with biological resources to data on brain-related traits
  • actively take part in the BRAINSCAPES consortium including frequent contact with other, mostly neuroscience oriented, labs
  • authoring and co-authoring manuscripts submitted to high quality journals
  • some support (10% of time) with teaching is expected
  • frequently present work at international community (at conference calls, or conferences)


  • MSc in any of the of the following fields: statistical or behavioral genetics, bioinformatics, computational biology or related computational field
  • a good ability to write and read English
  • experience with Python, the R statistical language and working in a UNIX environment is preferred
  • support ‘open science’: share tools and data with the wider scientific community

What are we offering?

A challenging position in a socially involved organization. The salary will be in accordance with university regulations for academic personnel and amounts to a minimum gross monthly salary of €2,395 (scale PhD 085) and a maximum of €3,061 (scale PhD 085), based on a full-time employment and depending on your education and experience. The job profile: is based on the university job ranking system and is vacant for at least 0.8 FTE.

The appointment will initially be for 1 year. After a satisfactory evaluation of the initial appointment, the contract will be extended for a duration of 3 years. Additionally, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam offers excellent fringe benefits and various schemes and regulations to promote a good work/life balance, such as:
  • a maximum of 41 days of annual leave based on full-time employment
  • 8% holiday allowance and 8.3% end-of-year bonus
  • solid pension scheme (ABP)
  • contribution to commuting expenses
  • optional model for designing a personalized benefits package

About Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

The ambition of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is clear: to contribute to a better world through outstanding education and ground-breaking research. We strive to be a university where personal development and commitment to society play a leading role. A university where people from different disciplines and backgrounds collaborate to achieve innovations and to generate new knowledge. Our teaching and research encompass the entire spectrum of academic endeavour – from the humanities, the social sciences and the natural sciences through to the life sciences and the medical sciences.

Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam is home to more than 26,000 students. We employ over 4,600 individuals. The VU campus is easily accessible and located in the heart of Amsterdam’s Zuidas district, a truly inspiring environment for teaching and research.

We are an inclusive university community. Diversity is one of our most important values. We believe that engaging in international activities and welcoming students and staff from a wide variety of backgrounds enhances the quality of our education and research. We are always looking for people who can enrich our world with their own unique perspectives and experiences.

The Faculty of Science
The Faculty of Science inspires researchers and students to find sustainable solutions for complex societal issues. From forest fires to big data, from obesity to medicines and from molecules to the moon: our teaching and research programmes cover the full spectrum of the natural sciences. We share knowledge and experience with leading research institutes and industries, both here in the Netherlands and abroad.

Working at the Faculty of Science means working with students, PhD candidates and researchers, all with a clear focus on their field and a broad view of the world. We employ more than 1,250 staff members, and we are home to around 6,000 students.

About the department Complex Trait Genetics
Research at the department of Complex Trait Genetics focuses on identifying the genetic mechanisms of brain-related traits. We develop novel statistical and bioinformatics tools to optimally analyze large genome-wide data sets for complex traits, combine them with biological data and generate hypotheses that can be tested in functional studies to obtain mechanistic insight.


You are requested to write a letter in which you describe your abilities and motivation, accompanied by your curriculum vitae, a list of grades of your MSc and the names and contact details of two scientific referees. Please compile all this together in one document and convert it to pdf.

Are you interested in this position? Please apply via the application button and upload your curriculum vitae and cover letter until 9th July 2020.

Applications received by e-mail will not be processed.

Vacancy questions
If you have any questions regarding this vacancy, you may contact:

Name: prof.dr. Danielle Posthuma
Position: head of department Complex Trait Genetics
Telephone: +31 20 5982823

No agencies Meer informatie en solliciteren