PhD candidate. The role of repetitive (epi)genome in shaping human individuality

PhD candidate. The role of repetitive (epi)genome in shaping human individuality

Published Deadline Location
8 Jul 26 Jul Maastricht

Job description

Enhance human identification and personalized medicine by joining our fully funded PhD position at Maastricht University! Become a key player in (epi)genetics and forensics by exploring the unknown role of human repetitive elements using nanopore sequencing, and shape the future of individual (epi)genomics research through the UNIQUE project.

Job description
We are looking for a highly motivated, enthusiastic and creative PhD student in (epi)genetics, bioinformatics or related fields, to join the individual and forensic (epi)genomics research group led by Dr. Athina Vidaki, embedded within the Department of Clinical Genetics at Maastricht UMC+ and the Department of Genetics & Cell Biology at Maastricht University.

The successful applicant will contribute to our recently funded research by the Dutch Research Council (NWO, Vidi grant) to conduct innovative, technology-driven research in the areas of human individuality, the repetitive (epi)genome and long-read sequencing. Additionally, as part of a multidisciplinary environment with the core goal of innovating healthcare, you will also contribute to other ongoing projects in clinical (epi)genomics. You will be supervised and mentored by an experienced team within MUMC+ and UM, and exposed to a wide network of international collaborators.

In the UNIQUE research project, you will employ cutting-edge computational and experimental tools to produce and analyze whole-genome and targeted nanopore sequencing data. The ultimate goal is to uncover novel biomarkers of DNA uniqueness, applicable also to identical twins. For this purpose, you will develop, optimise and validate your own lab and programming techniques to analyze diverse types of repetitive DNA. You will also employ a wide range of methods in data analysis, statistics and prediction modelling, to study and infer a wide range of natural and disease-related phenotypes.

As a PhD student within the individual and forensic (epi)genomics group, you will also be trained to perform key researcher activities, including keeping up with current literature and analysis tools in the project area, developing and maintaining laboratory notes, easy-to-implement codes and results reporting (including contributing to preparation of official documents to NWO), collaborating with other team members including international colleagues, actively engaging in multidisciplinary meetings and research, contributing towards organizing events, and writing scientific publications.

Importantly, you will also get plenty of chances to develop your professional skills, including by presenting your research at conferences and connecting with societal stakeholders including companies and the general public. Finally, you will also get opportunities to build university educational experience, by supporting under/post-graduate students during their research projects, and contributing to teach activities of the group.

The anticipated start date is autumn 2024 (i.e. October 1st), but reasonable accommodations can be made for the right candidate.

We are looking for a curious, pro-active and ambitious young researcher, with a successfully completed university MSc degree in (epi)genetics, molecular biology, biomedical sciences, bioinformatics, computational biology or related fields.

Key qualifications and skills:
  • A strong quantitative and analytical mindset
  • Excellent theoretical and experimental research skills
  • Background and training in both wet- and dry-lab genetics instruments/methods; experience with epigenetics, nanopore sequencing and genome-wide techniques is a plus
  • Sound knowledge in bioinformatics and biostatistics; basic programming skills in Python and/or R (and other languages) is a must
  • Capacity to quickly acquire new knowledge and master new skills
  • Strong problem-solving skills and ability to develop innovative ideas in a research project; experience in technology development is an asset
  • Detail-oriented and result-driven attitude
  • Ability to work both independently and in a multidisciplinary team
  • Excellent communication, teamwork and organization skills
  • Proficient written and oral English language skills (working language of the group); knowledge of the Dutch language is not required but appreciated

What we offer
As PhD Candidate in the role of repetitive (epi)genome in shaping human individuality at Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences, you will be employed by the most international university in the Netherlands, located in the beautiful city of Maastricht. In addition, we offer you:
  • Good employment conditions. The position is graded in scale P according to UFO profile PhD, with corresponding salary based on experience ranging from €2770,00 and €3539,00 gross per month (based on a full-time employment of 38 hours per week). In addition to the monthly salary, an 8.0% holiday allowance and an 8.3% year-end bonus apply.
  • An employment contract for a period of 12 months with a scope of 1,0 FTE. Upon a positive evaluation, an extension of 3 years will follow.
  • At Maastricht University, the well-being of our employees is of utmost importance, we offer flexible working hours and the possibility to work partly from home if the nature of your position allows it. You will receive a monthly commuting and internet allowance for this. If you work full-time, you will be entitled to 29 vacation days and 4 additional public holidays per year, namely carnival Monday, carnival Tuesday, Good Friday, and Liberation Day. If you choose to accumulate compensation hours, an additional 12 days will be added. Furthermore, you can personalize your employment conditions through a collective labor agreement (CAO) choice model.
  • As Maastricht University, we offer various other excellent secondary employment conditions. These include a good pension scheme with the ABP and the opportunity for UM employees to participate in company fitness and make use of the extensive sports facilities that we also offer to our students.
  • Last but certainly not least, we provide the space and facilities for your personal and professional development. We facilitate this by offering a wide range of training programs and supporting various well-established initiatives such as 'acknowledge and appreciate'.

The terms of employment at Maastricht University are largely set out in the collective labor agreement of Dutch Universities. In addition, local provisions specific to UM apply. For more information, click here.

Maastricht University
Why work at Maastricht University?
At Maastricht University (UM), everything revolves around the future. The future of our students, as we work to equip them with a solid, broad-based foundation for the rest of their lives. And the future of society, as we seek solutions through our research to issues from all around the world. Our six faculties combined provide a comprehensive package of study programmes and research.

In our teaching, we use the Problem-Based Learning (PBL) method. Students work in small groups, looking for solutions to problems themselves. By discussing issues and working together to draw conclusions, formulate answers and present them to their peers, students develop essential skills for their future careers.

With over 22,300 students and more than 5,000 employees from all over the world, UM is home to a vibrant and inspiring international community.

Are you drawn to an international setting focused on education, science and scholarship? Are you keen to contribute however your skills and qualities allow? Our door is open to you! As a young European university, we value your talent and look forward to creating the future together.

Click here for more information about UM.

Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences
At the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences (FHML), everything revolves around healthy living. Our research and education are not solely focused on recovery, but place a strong emphasis on prevention, health preservation, and health promotion. Our aim is to use our knowledge and expertise to genuinely contribute to the well-being of individual people as well as society in total.

In, research, and healthcare, FHML is closely collaborating with the academic hospital in Maastricht, together forming the Maastricht University Medical Center (MUMC+). FHML is strongly connected in education, research, and care with the Maastricht academic hospital, together with which it forms the Maastricht University Medical Centre (MUMC+).

FHML, which is the largest faculty of Maastricht University, is formed by an (inter)national community of employees and students. The faculty offers a wide range of Dutch and English-taught bachelor's and master's programs in innovative educational concepts in which the emphasis is always on building bridges to practice.

The multidisciplinary research of the FHML focuses on a number of carefully chosen topical current themes. In addition to research aimed at gaining new insights, it also concerns research whose results can be directly translated into concrete applications and innovations. The implementation of the various research programs is organized in our six graduate schools and two institutes.

Department of Clinical Genetics at Maastricht University Medical Center (MUMC+)
The approximately 190 employees of the Clinical Genetics department of Maastricht UMC+ strive to provide patients with answers to their healthcare needs. Through our own expertise, international knowledge networks and high-quality laboratory techniques, we strive to detect the exact genetic cause of hereditary diseases and, after making a diagnosis, we advise patients and their relatives.

The department consists of an outpatient clinic, where patients can go with all questions in the field of heredity and clinical genetic diagnosis. Our spearheads are reproductive genetics, cardiogenetics, rare genetic syndromes and intellectual disability, oncogenetics and genodermatology. We also have a clinical genetics laboratory with an integrated laboratory for hereditary metabolic diseases. The MUMC+ is the only center in the Netherlands with a permit for Preimplantation Genetic Testing (PGT), also known as embryo selection.

Since January 2024, a new expertise and research team within the Clinical Genetics department is established, on individual & forensic (epi)genomics, with a focus on innovating DNA analysis methods, studying novel levels of biological uniqueness in health and disease, and working towards implementation in both clinical and forensic practice.

We work closely with the Genetics department of Radboud UMC and the process has been started to jointly form one center: Academic Alliance Genetics (AAG). For more information, please refer to our website and

Are you interested in this exciting position but still have questions? Feel free to contact Athina Vidaki at for more information.

Or are you already convinced and ready to become our new PhD Candidate in the role of repetitive (epi)genome in shaping human individuality? Apply now, no later than July 26, 2024, for this position.

Please upload your CV and motivation letter.

The vacancy is open for internal and external candidates. In case of equal qualifications, internal candidates will be prioritized.

Maastricht University is committed to promoting and nurturing a diverse and inclusive community. We believe that diversity in our staff and student population contributes to the quality of research and education at UM, and strive to enable this through inclusive policies and innovative projects led by teams of staff and students. We encourage you to apply for this position.


Maastricht University (UM)


  • PhD
  • Health
  • max. 38 hours per week
  • €2770—€3539 per month
  • University graduate
  • 1138


Maastricht University (UM)

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P. Debyelaan 25, 6229HX, Maastricht

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Application procedure

Application procedure

Make sure to apply no later than 26 Jul 2024 23:59 (Europe/Amsterdam).