Doctoral Researcher in Bioinformatics with interest in Environmental Pollution and Human Epigenetics (ref. BAP-2023-220)





The Epigenetic Epidemiology Lab at the Department of Human Genetics - Faculty of Medicine KU Leuven in Belgium - seeks a PhD candidate with strong skills in bioinformatics and high interest in epigenetic effects from environmental pollution. The Epigenetic Epidemiology Lab has an international reputation in the design of epigenetic studies in humans. Major research topics include epigenetic changes because of ageing, obesity-related factors, nutrition, lifestyle, pollution, and other environmental factors. These changes can adversely affect overall health, fertility, childhood growth, pregnancy, as well as health of the next generations. More information about our university:

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This project is part of PARC (Partnership for the Assessment of Risk from Chemicals). PARC is a EU-partnership consisting of 200 partners in 28 countries. Its mission is to safeguard human health and the environment by devising innovative techniques for chemical risk assessment and minimizing the use of harmful materials. PARC will focus on hazard assessment but also on human biomonitoring, environmental monitoring, and exposure modelling. A paradigm shift is needed because traditional toxicity testing methods often rely on animal testing. These are not desirable anymore because of ethical concerns, and economic considerations and because findings are not necessarily applicable to humans.

The current research project involves assessment of bioinformatics and/or AI on large data sets from PARC and our research team. Our major goal includes development of (functionally relevant) epigenetic biomarkers of earlier exposures to environmental chemicals in human. 

Your major tasks:

  • You will use large datasets, from clinic, next-generation sequencing and array-based technologies (including Whole-Genome Bisulfite Sequencing Analyzes, Pyrosequencing, Infinium HumanMethylation450,...).

  • You will perform complex statistical analyzes on the data obtained, in the context of your PhD project and to support the research team.

  • Where needed, you will apply for EC agreements.

  • You report to the principal investigators and participate in team meetings.

  • You present your data at conferences, e.g. in the form of a poster presentation.

  • You draw up a PhD plan.

  • Within the first year you have finished at least one original manuscript (as first author or co-author) for publication in a peer-reviewed journal. Based on these results you write a research grant and apply for additional research funding.

  • You assist the PI in general tasks, guidance of Master thesis students and teaching (preparing slides, handouts, virtual learning platform, support with exam supervision and feedback, organize small workshops for students).

  • A master’s degree in Bioinformatics (additional skills in Machine Learning and Biostatistics are a benefit), needed to solve biological problems.

  • You are able to combine two major scientific disciplines: bioinformatics and biomedical sciences (including biology, genetics, “omics”,…).

  • Enthusiast scientists, preferable awarded by your university or proof of high grades.

  • Besides a focused approach on specific data sets, it is warranted this candidate can see the general context of this project, including its applications for public health and ecology. 

  • You are highly motived to further develop your skills in Human Epigenetic Analytics, Epidemiology and Public Health.

  • Obviously, you have strong skills in statistical programming. Your skills include at least few (Software) tools from this list: R, SAS, SPSS, MATLAB, Python language,… (specify in your CV).

  • Good organizational skills, dynamic, and reliable. 

  • A good command of English, oral and written. 

  • It is important to be self-motivated, an independent worker, but at the same time a team player. 


This is a full-time position. The PhD candidate will become part of a small research team, an international consortium (PARC) and our dynamic department Human Genetics. Training opportunities will be offered to enhance your knowledge and skills. You will join conferences related to the topic. This PhD-project offers you also the opportunity to apply for additional research grants through e.g. FWO or SB scholarship; supported by our team (grant writing is part of this training program). In short, we provide the opportunity to accelerate your skills and join a dynamic and international research team. 

KU Leuven is a research-intensive, internationally oriented university that carries out both fundamental and applied scientific research. It is highly inter- and multidisciplinary focused and strives for international excellence. In this regard, it actively works together with research partners in Belgium and abroad. It provides its students with an academic education that is based on high-quality scientific research. You will work in Leuven, a historic, dynamic and lively city located in the heart of Belgium, within 20 minutes from Brussels, the capital of the European Union, and less than two hours from Paris, London and Amsterdam. 

KU Leuven offers many fringe benefits, such as a hospitalization insurance, paid vacation days, free commute by public transport, company bicycle or allowance, ecocheques, etc.

More information on benefits, career opportunities and salaries/scholarship for PhDs can be found here:


Your online application must include:

Motivation letter. CV and transcript of degrees/classes. Name of your current supervisor and Master thesis topic (explain in 1 page). Three referee letters (including their contact information). For more information you can contact Prof. Adelheid Soubry, head of the research unit via, with the subject: "PhD PARC"

This vacancy is open until a strong candidate has been selected; hence, we recommend applying as soon as possible and not to wait until the deadline.

You can apply for this job no later than July 31, 2023 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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