PhD Position in Human Genetics
Catholic University of Leuven Department of Human Genetics

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 University of Tartu (Estonia) 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 at the Department of Human Genetics) 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 (Eearly Stage Researcher) will also be co-hosted by the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology (Prof. Ants Kurg’s research group), an interdisciplinary centre that performs research on molecular and cell biology issues with regard to innovations in biomedical research and healthcare. The staff members of this center publish their work in international peer reviewed journals, participate in national and international research projects, and teach students of all academic levels.


The PhD researcher (Early Stage Researcher=ESR11) 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 single-cell technologies to understand mechanistic origin of a neuploidy and mosaicism during preimplantation embryo development. This project will specifically aim:

  • To improve single-cell haplotyping and genotyping technologies and to enable highly accurate single-cell sequencing for concomitant transcriptome and genome analysis of single cells, using appropriate cell-lines and
  • To unravel the incidence and mechanisms underlying chromosomal rearrangement during early embryo development, by exploiting the developed single-cell technologies in bovine IVF embryos.

This will be done through an existing multi-disciplinary collaboration with the group of prof. Ann Van Soom (Ghent University), which has world-class expertise in bovine reproduction and early embryogenesis. ESR11 will mostly be hosted by the KU Leuven (Belgium) and will be seconded for a shorter period to the University of Tartu (minimum of 6 months in total). The position also includes a training period in European company focusing on reproductive health.


  • Degree in biomedical sciences, bio-engineering, bioinformatics, or a relevant other discipline;
  • Knowledge of and interest in genetics and bioinformatics;
  • An outstanding record of undergraduate and master's degree work;
  • Programming skills are desirable;
  • Highly motivated candidate with strong interest in biomedical 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 eligibility criteria via:  and make your application.


We are offering one full time appointment (100%) as a PhD student for a period of 4years, 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. ESR11 will be awarded a PhD by the KU Leuven and the University of Tartu.  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, bothimportant 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 ESR11:



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. Ants Kurg, mail: (University of Tartu).

For questions regarding MSCA EJD double degree, please contact NathalieLaurent ( at KU Leuven or Reet Marits ( at the University of Tartu.

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

If you apply for this position please say you saw it on Bioloxy


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