PhD position in Computational Neurobiology

Antwerp VIB-UAntwerp Center for Molecular Neurology

14 May 2024

Antwerp

VIB-UAntwerp Center for Molecular Neurology

Valeriya Malysheva Lab

PhD

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The VIB-UAntwerp Center for Molecular Neurology has 6 PIs and hosts internationally recognized leaders in the field of Neurogenetics and Neuroinflammation.  Current research groups address a broad set of questions related to neurodegenerative diseases of the central and peripheral nervous system, with an emphasis on understanding the genetic etiology and developing diagnostics and treatment methods for these diseases. Approaches range from human genetics and genomics to protein biochemistry and neuronal and glial cell biology, while models include yeast, fly, mouse, and pluripotent human cell systems. Research groups have access to state-of-the-art research and top-notch support core facilities and attract talented international scientists from across the world. 

The VIB-UAntwerp Center is part of  VIB, a Life Sciences institute with colleague-researchers in cancer, biotechnology, structural biology, immunology amongst others and an extensive set of core facilities and opportunities for technology transfer. We are also embedded within the University of Antwerp.

The Computational Neurobiology Lab at the VIB Center for Molecular Neurology of the Faculty of Pharmaceutical, Biomedical and Veterinary Sciences is looking for a full-time (100%) doctoral scholarship holder in the field of computational neurobiology.

Position

  • You will join our young vibrant team to work on a challenging and exciting project at the intersection of Computational Biology, AI, Biomedical science. Despite extensive research efforts, the quest for early diagnostic approaches and efficient treatments for Alzheimer's disease and related dementias remains elusive. The fundamental issue lies in the limited understanding of the patient-specific triggering factors and their interaction with confounding factors. We hypothesise that patient-specific triggers of disease development can be identified through artificial “reversal” of patients’ genetic and structural profiles and reconstruction of pre-AD counterfactually augmented trajectories. Leveraging deep learning, generative models and cross-modal autoencoders and working with both structured and unstructured data, the goal of this project is to develop a statistical framework and a computational tool for the reconstruction of past causal longitudinal trajectories. Such trajectories will then be used for patient-specific treatment design and biomarker discovery.
  • You will write several scientific articles on this research project and present your work at national and international conferences.
  • You will contribute to other research directions in the lab.
  • You will carry out several teaching and research support tasks at the University of Antwerp.

Profile

  • You hold (or will have obtained by the start date) a master’s degree in applied mathematics, computer science, statistics, machine learning or related areas.
  • You are highly enthusiastic and motivated to develop statistical and computational frameworks and apply them in the field of neurodegenerative diseases.
  • You can demonstrate excellent academic performance, especially in relevant subjects, such as mathematics, statistics, machine learning and bioinformatics.
  • You have strong programming skills in Python (R is a plus)
  • You have experience in developing and/or extensive troubleshooting of statistical frameworks and computational models.
  • You have excellent proficiency in both written and spoken English.
  • You can efficiently explain your research to computational and experimental biologists.
  • While not strictly required, ideally you can demonstrate experience in:
    • developing and/or applying generative AI models
    • package development
    • automatic data collection from public databases
    • structural brain image and/or genetic/epigenetic data analysis.

What we offer

  • A doctoral scholarship for a period of 2 years (2024-2026). Following a positive evaluation, the scholarship can be renewed for another 2 years (2026-2028).
  • The planned start date is 1st of September 2024 or as soon as possible after that date.
  • Your monthly scholarship amount is calculated according to the scholarship amounts for doctoral scholarship holders on the pay scales for Contract Research Staff (Dutch: Bijzonder Academisch Personeel, BAP).
  • You will become part of our vibrant enthusiastic international lab and supportive community at the VIB CMN, University of Antwerp, as well as the VIB Center for AI and Computational Biology, with which our lab is affiliated.
  • You will get access to numerous training courses at the VIB and will have an opportunity to organise and participate in computational events, including bioinformatics seminars and international hackathons.
  • You will receive eco-cheques, an internet-connectivity allowance, and a bicycle allowance or a full reimbursement of public transport costs for commuting.
  • You will do most of your work at the Campus Drie Eiken in a dynamic and stimulating working environment.
  • Find out more about working at the University of Antwerp here.

Want to apply?

  • You can apply for this vacancy through the VIB online job application platform up to and including June 17th 2024 (by midnight Brussels time, i.e. 10pm GMT). Click on the 'Apply' button, complete the online application form and be sure to include the following attachments:
    • a motivation letter (1 page maximum), specifying exactly how your education and experience make you the best candidate for this position.
    • your academic CV (2 pages maximum), clearly specifying:
      • mastered computational skills
      • publications (if any)
      • the grades for the most relevant subjects during your Master’s
      • academic performance during your Undergraduate.
    • contact information of two referees.
  • The selection committee reviews all applications as soon as possible after the application deadline. We aim to notify the shortlisted candidates by the end of June.
  • If you have any questions about the position itself, please contact Prof. Valeriya Malysheva at [email protected].


VIB values diversity - in backgrounds and in experiences. The institute needs people from all backgrounds and ways of life to help build a thriving scientific environment. VIB is therefore looking for candidates who are not only strong in their own aptitudes but care deeply about supporting each other's growth. VIB's collaborators are people with different strengths, experiences and backgrounds, who share a passion for science that generates impact in science and in society. Diversity not only includes race and gender identity, but also nationality, age, disability status, sexual orientation, religion and many other parts of one’s identity. All of VIB’s employees’ points of view are key to its success, and inclusion is everyone's responsibility.