PhD student position available in group Attanasio, University of Leuven (BE)


(ref. BAP-2019-559)


The lab of Dr. Attanasio is a new research group at the Department of Human Genetics, KU Leuven (=Leuven University), the highest-ranked university in Belgium and the most innovative university in Europe. The lab performs state-of-the-art research in functional genomics to study the regulatory role of non-coding DNA in complex biological processes and supports other groups with expertise in gene regulation and genomics approaches. The goal is to understand how regulatory sequences control spatio-temporal gene expression programs and how their alteration – through nucleotide or genome structural variation –contributes to human phenotypes or diseases.

Copy-Number Variations (CNVs), which define sequence deletions or insertions of ≥50bp, have been shown to play important roles in population diversity and human diseases. Topologically Associated Domains (TADs) are fundamental regulatory units of the genome as they ensure proper gene expression regulation. Several studies have reported that genomic rearrangements such as deletion or duplication of DNA segments (i.e. CNVs) could disrupt, duplicate or shift TADs boundaries and affect human biology. In this project, we aim at identifying the effects of rare inherited CNVs in families with developmental disorders.

For this project, we are seeking a highly motivated PhD student interested in studying the intersection between structural variants, 3D chromatin architecture and human diseases using high-throughput technologies, genetics, genomics and bioinformatics.

  • Applicants should hold a Master degree in Biomedical Sciences, BioEngineering or Bioinformatics.
  • Strong interest in the field of non-coding gene regulation and human diseases.
  • Previous research experience in the fields of molecular biology, genomics or chromatin dynamics is preferred. However, we will also consider candidates with a background in computational biology interested in expanding their skill set to wet lab techniques.
  • Bioinformatics training (R, Python) and knowledge of statistics.
  • We are looking for independent, innovative and creative personalities with a hands-on, can-do attitude.
  • We offer employment as a full-time doctoral researcher in a stimulating environment, but the student will be asked to apply for individual funding (f.e. FWO) at least once.
  • This project is part of a larger research effort involving seven laboratories of the Human Genetics Department of KU Leuven. The candidate will thus have the opportunity to interact with experts in human genetics, bioinformatics and human population genetics.
  • The possibility to participate in international conferences and collaborations.
  • Access to state-of-the-art techniques and infrastructure.
  • A stimulating and diverse international research environment in a world-class academic context, located in the heart of Europe.

Start date: the position will be available from 1st of November, but the starting date is negotiable.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Catia Attanasio, mail:

Additional required information:

  • Please enclose a motivation letter to your application with a brief research statement that demonstrates your interest in this type of research and a CV.
  • Please provide contact information of 2 mentors who agreed to provide a short letter of recommendation.
You can apply for this job no later than September 22, 2019 via the online application tool
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