PhD Research position: multi-omics liquid biopsy platform to advance precision cancer medicine. (ref. BAP-2024-251)





About the team: The laboratory of Prof. Vermeesch translates and implements novel precision technologies to improve patient care. We use liquid biopsies as a biomarker to monitor and provide early detection of genic and non-genic diseases. Wouter Bossuyt is manager of the genomics core facility and develops NGS technology.

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The position:  

We are looking for an enthusiastic and motivated candidate to start a PhD trajectory in liquid biopsy method development for improved cancer detection. The project has a strong focus on novel design and implementation of different IT tools and coordination of team members.  As such, you integrate different large scale and omic data sources. You have a master degree in Engineering, Bioinformatics, Biomedical sciences and have a keen interest in genetics. You are passionate about scientific research. You have strong English language skills (additional language skills are an asset). 

Project background: 

  • Genomic medicine moves healthcare from being reactive to disease to being predictive to disease onset or from cure to prevention. 

  • Next-generation sequencing technologies have leveraged novel concepts to diagnose, treat and monitor diseases. 

  • Analysis of free-floating cfDNA from blood or other body fluids - called “liquid biopsy” - represents an emerging tool that enables non-invasive monitoring of tissue dynamics in multiple

  • human physiological and pathological conditions, including pregnancy, cancer and other conditions. 

  • In the ONCNGS project we are developing innovative approaches for (epi)genome-wide cfDNA analysis that can lead to novel applications to monitor cancer. 

  • In this project you will help build novel pipelines and perform clinical validation studies demonstrating the value of the new approaches.


You ideally have: 

  • Strong computational, programming and/or data analysis skills with an IT, BioIT or engineering background.

  • Experience with the development and validation of bioinformatic methods.

  • Knowledge of bioinformatic pipelines for the analysis of Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) and other -omics data

  • Knowledge in several of the following programming languages: Python, R, bash, Perl.

  • Knowledge of several NGS and deployment platform-related software packages and technologies

  • Knowledge of programming standards, unit tests, and software development tools such as Visual Studio Code.

  • Experience in workflow managers (e.g. Nextflow).

  • Experience in cloud-based systems is an asset, preferably GCP, and used container technologies (e.g. Docker).

  • You have a basic knowledge of SQL with which you can perform simple analyses in a big data environment.

  • Problem-solving attitude to work and critical analytical thinking.

  • A keen interest and motivation to work on ambitious projects in a dynamic, driven team. 

  • Knowledge of genetics and epigenetics is an asset.

  • The ability to meet timelines and work accurately.


Working with us: 

We have onsite access to state-of-the-art facilities, including single cell analysis platforms, Flow cytometry, High-Throughput Sequencing, Bioinformatics, Imaging, high-capacity computing and others. 

You will be embedded in the KULeuven Genomics Core facility (, the largest sequencing facility in Belgium, which offers a broad portfolio of NGS techniques for academic labs, companies, and hospitals. 

Located in Leuven, a small but vibrant and international town by the river Dijle where centuries of history meet cutting-edge science, we are only a stone’s throw away from the cosmopolitan city of Brussels, the heart of Europe. 

We are part of the University of Leuven, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities of Europe. 

Founded in 1425, it is Belgium’s largest university, currently featuring among the best universities in the world according to the Times Higher Education and recently ranked as Europe’s most innovative for the third year in a row. 


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Joris Vermeesch, mail:

KU Leuven strives for an inclusive, respectful and socially safe environment. We embrace diversity among individuals and groups as an asset. Open dialogue and differences in perspective are essential for an ambitious research and educational environment. In our commitment to equal opportunity, we recognize the consequences of historical inequalities. We do not accept any form of discrimination based on, but not limited to, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, ethnic or national background, skin colour, religious and philosophical diversity, neurodivergence, employment disability, health, or socioeconomic status. For questions about accessibility or support offered, we are happy to assist you at this email address.

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