PhD Position in Biosciences
Catholic University of Leuven Laboratory for Cytogenetics and Genome Research

The PhD researcher will carry out her/his doctoral research and training jointly at two degree-awarding universities and will be awarded a double PhD degree from the University of Leuven/ KU Leuven (Belgium) as the main host, and the Karolinska Institutet (Stockholm, Sweden) as the co-host. The research project will be coordinated by the Laboratory for Cytogenetics and Genome Research (KU Leuven, Prof. Joris Vermeesch research group) that has been pioneering innovative technologies for single-cell, circulating free floating DNA and multicell whole-genome analyses. The staff members of this center publish their work in international peer reviewed journals, participate in national and international research projects, and provide advice to academic and professional organizations. The PhD researcher (Early Stage Researcher) will be co-hosted by the Department of Biosciences and Nutrition at the Karolinska Institute (Prof. Juha Kere’s research group), focussing on the molecular genomics technologies.


The PhD researcher will be hired on a project funded through the EU project MATER, a Marie Curie Training Network. The goal of the project is to develop novel technologies for non-invasive prenatal testing (NIPT) that would allow to identify novel markers, associated with pregnancy complications (for example miscarriages). This project will specifically aim to: 

  • develop and optimize novel next-generation sequencing (NGS)technologies for analysis of genome-wide haplotype copy numbers of fetal cell-free DNA (cfDNA) from maternal plasma; 
  • build a computational pipeline for nucleosome footprint analysis discriminating fetal, placental and maternal cfDNA, and 
  • initiate studies into the genetic architecture of the first trimester pregnancy loss of a neuploidy-free gestations, due to abnormal placentation, by comparing the ratios of fetal-to-placental cfDNA.

The PhD researcher will mostly be hosted by the KU Leuven (Belgium) and will be seconded fora shorter period to the Karolinska Institutet (minimum of 6 months in total).The position also includes a training period in European company focusing on reproductive health.


  • Degree in bioinformatics, informatics of biomedical sciences, bio-engineering, or a relevant other discipline;
  • Good & proven bioinformatic skills;
  • Knowledge of and interest in genetics;
  • An outstanding record of undergraduate and master’s degree work;
  • Highly motivated candidate with strong interest in biomedical/bioinformatic innovations and a demonstrable affinity with the project;
  • Proven proficiency in English, both written and orally;
  • Strong writing and analytical skills;
  • Good communication and organization skills;
  • Ability to meet deadlines and complete a PhD thesis within the defined project time;
  • Capacity to work both as an independent researcher and as part of a team;
  • Ability to work in an interdisciplinary context.
  • Check the eligibility criteria via: and apply.


We are offering one full time appointment (100%) as a PhD student for a period of 4 years, of which the first three years are covered by the Marie Curie ITN project and the fourth year by the hosting research institutes. The starting date can be negotiated. ESR13 will be awarded a PhD by the KU Leuven and the Karolinska Institutet.

The project also offers a unique opportunity to train under several established researchers in the field of reproductive health and thus opportunity to obtain vast network facilitating establishment of fellow’s future career. The multinational research environment will help in advancing adaptation and organization skills,both important traits to become a successful researcher.



As we collect all applications from all different EU countries in 1 application tool, we request to use the MATER application tool for ESR13:


Applicants need to complete an application form including:

  • A detailed CV
  • Cover letter that describes the applicants’ motivation to apply (max. 1 page)
  • Official copy of the diploma and diploma supplement (transcript/mark sheet) of the preceding study levels (both bachelor's and master's documents in the original language and official translations into English if applicable)
  • Copy of the passport page stating the applicant´s personal particulars
  • At least two recommendation letters (academic reference)
  • A language certificate (IELTS min. 6.5 (no section below 5.5), TOEFL internet-based min. 92 (or similar level as proven by other tests, if available)
  • a copy of a recent academic publication or a recent paper or master thesis


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Joris Vermeesch, mail: (KU Leuven) or Prof.Juha Kere, mail: (Karolinska Institutet).

 For questions regarding MSCA EJD double degree, please contact Nathalie Laurent ( at KU Leuven or Lotta Lundqvist ( or Lise-Lotte Vedin ( at KI.

You can apply for this job no later than April 09, 2020 via the
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

  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: April 9, 2020
  • Tags: Menselijke erfelijkheid
  • Download: file

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