Post-doctoral Computational Biologist

Leuven VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research

27 Jun 2018


VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research

Matthew Holt Lab



About the Lab

The Laboratory of Glia Biology (Holt lab) is part of the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain and Disease Research. Astrocytes are a major cell type in the mammalian brain responsible for blood brain barrier formation and maintenance, synapse formation and the modulation of synaptic transmission. Interestingly, astrocytes show remarkable differences across species. At the simplest level, human astrocytes are larger and anatomically much more complex than invertebrate and rodent astrocytes. However, because astrocytes are traditionally identified by the same set of high level molecular markers, it remains unclear to what degree they show species specific adaptations.

The lab has a strong interest in identifying factors responsible for interspecies differences, with the ultimate goal of understanding the limits to which animal models are predictive for human biology.

Job description

This project aims to investigate the molecular programs driving astrocyte evolution across species (fruit fly, frog, mouse, primate, human). For this purpose, it will use single cell technologies, advanced bioinformatics tools and machine learning algorithms for cell type clustering, functional annotation and inference of evolutionary dynamics.

Key publications:

  • Purification and characterization of progenitor and mature human astrocytes reveals transcriptional and functional differences with mouse. Zhang et al. Neuron. 2016.
  • LPS and IL-1 differentially activate mouse and human astrocytes: role of CD14. Tarassishin et al. Glia. 2014.
  • Single-cell sequencing-based technologies will revolutionize whole-organism science. Shapiro et al. Nat Rev Genet. 2013.



The lab seeks an energetic and self-motivated post-doctoral scientist for the project.

  • Recent Ph.D. in a relevant subject area (Bioinformatics, Neuroscience, Genetics or a similar discipline).
  • Familiarity with Linux, Bash scripting, R/Bioconductor or Python.
  • Fluency in English.

Desirable but not required:

Experience in NGS pipeline analysis and wet bench work are a plus, but not essential, as all essential techniques can be taught.

We offer

  • A creative environment with a diversity of top quality neuroscience research and access to first class core facilities (including single cell sequencing).
  • An initial contract for one year, which can be extended subject to satisfactory performance. However, the successful candidate is encouraged to obtain a personal fellowship (Marie-Curie, EMBO, or National funding organizations).
  • Starting data: As soon as possible.

How to apply?

Please use the VIB HR Application tool

Additional required information:

  • Please enclose a motivation letter with your application.
  • Please mention the contact details of two references in the application form.

For more information please contact Matthew Holt.

More Information: