PhD Position: Decoding Cellular Heterogeneity KU Leuven Laboratory for Functional Epigenetics Belgium



We are a young and dynamic lab that is part of Belgium’s highest-ranked university, KU Leuven. It is a leading European research university, which ranks first in Europe in terms of innovation. This PhD position will be well embedded in local expertise on single cell analyses, as we are part of the SymBioSys network aiming to advance computational methods in single cell analyses, and of the Leuven Cell Center, which joins research capabilities of several labs having a major focus on applications of single cell omics technologies. We share campus with Belgium’s biggest hospital, and have ongoing collaborations with clinicians for patient sample procurement to maximize potential clinical impact. We perform state-of-the-art research in epigenetics, and aim for a functional rather than correlative understanding of the role of epigenetics in biology and disease.



The Laboratory for Functional Epigenetics is looking for a PhD candidate to join our team to investigate the role of the epigenome in generating transcriptional heterogeneity. Cellular heterogeneity is key to multiple aspects of normal development, physiology and to diseases such as cancer. However, the biological control of cellular variability and heterogeneity has remained vastly underexplored, in part because heterogeneity is often obscured in bulk cell omics analyses. The advent of single cell omics technologies however opens up exciting new opportunities to study heterogeneity at the cellular level, a fundamental unit of biology. To help us in our quest to understand the role of the epigenome in heterogeneity control, we are looking for a PhD candidate eager to develop novel computational methods to quantify heterogeneity in a single cell omics datasets. Single cell datasets will include transciptomic, epigenomic and open chromatin analyses of tumours, and multi-omic combinations thereof. Successful candidates will have the option of being cross-trained in both computational and experimental work. 



  • Applicants should hold a Master degree in bioinformatics, mathematics, physics, engineering or a biological or biomedical degree with additional training in bioinformatics. 
  • We are explicitly looking for innovative, creative personalities with ambition and a hands-on, can-do attitude.
  • Programming/data analysis experience is required (preferably R).
  • Knowledge of statistics, epigenetics and/or NGS data analysis is a strong plus.
  • A proven track record of interest in (epi)genetics or biomedicine is a plus
  • Motivated students of all nationalities with a strong commitment to basic and/or clinical research are invited to apply. 



  • Excellent training conditions for bioinformatics within a team of specialists, with expertise in epigenetics, genetics and oncology.
  • Access to state-of-the-art infrastructure and possibility to invest in new infrastructure as needed
  • A stimulating and diverse research program in a world-class academic environment.
  • Start date: as soon as possible - the position is immediately available. We foresee a 4-year affiliation in total, contingent on successful evaluation by the doctoral school after 1 year.



For more information please contact Prof. dr. Bernard Thienpont, tel.: +32 16 37 32 08, mail:


You can apply for this job no later than February 17, 2019 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

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