PhD opportunities in Single-Cell Bioinformatics and Neural Circuit Network in Sleep Homeostasis

Leuven VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research

07 Dec 2017


VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research

Sha Liu Lab




The Center for Brain & Disease Research (CBD) is one of the research centers of the VIB Institute embedded within the Department of Neuroscience at KU Leuven (University of Leuven).

The Laboratory of Sleep and Synaptic Plasticity (PI: Sha Liu) in the CBD is seeking PhD students with a computational or engineering background and a strong interest in neuroscience to join our research group. In the lab, we employ multi-disciplinary approaches, including Drosophila genetics, quantitative animal behavior analysis, electrophysiology, two-photon functional imaging, and neural circuit mapping and manipulation, to understand what sleep is, how it is generated, and what its function in the brain is.

Current interests of the lab include the identification and analysis of the circuit network of sleep homeostasis in the fruit fly brain.

Key publication:

Liu, S.*, Liu, Q.*, Tabuchi, M., and Wu, M.N. (2016). Sleep Drive is Encoded by Neural Plastic Changes in a Dedicated Circuit. Cell 165, 1347-1360.  (Previewed in Cell) (Recommended by Faculty of 1000).

The projects for the PhD students include: development of novel apparatus for quantitative fly behavior analysis (both recoding and close-loop manipulation), use of bio-informatics approach to identify novel components in the circuit network of sleep homeostasis from large single-cell profiling datasets, analysis of the sleep-drive dependent molecular and cellular changes in specific neuronal and glial circuits of sleep homeostasis, etc.


We seek highly motivated PhD students with an interest in computational biology and/or engineering to investigate fascinating neuroscientific questions.

  • Master’s degree in Bioinformatics, Computer Science, Bio-Engineering, Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Mathematical Engineering, Applied Physics or similar disciplines.
  • Good programming skills are required.
  • Good English communication and presentation skills are required.
  • A background in one or more of the following techniques is a plus: high-throughput sequencing data analysis; machine learning and data mining; image and video data processing; 3D printing; Non-linear dynamic modeling.
  • Previous research lab experience is a plus but not required.

We offer

  • Excellent training in both technical and academic career skills.
  • Good collaborations with Bioinformatics, Single-cell and Biophysics labs within the center and at other international institutes.  
  • Access to state-of-the-art facilities in the institute (including microfluidics, super-resolution microscopy and block-face scanning EM, etc.)

How to apply?

Interested candidates, please email prof. Sha Liu or use the online application tool. Please make sure your application file includes the following elements:

  • A cover letter describing previous experience and career goals
  • The contact information of 2 references
  • Your detailed CV

More Information: