4-year PhD position in Statistical Genomics/Genetic Epidemiology

Language and Genetics Population Genetics of Human Communication

The Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen, the Netherlands, is offering a PhD position in Statistical Genomics/Genetic Epidemiology within the population genetics of human communication group, led by Dr Beate St Pourcain and embedded within the Language & Genetics Department at the MPI.

Job description

The project will focus on identifying and modelling the genomic influences underlying early language performance and social behaviour, including links with brain-related phenotypes, rhythmicity and outcomes in later childhood and adolescence. The project will also study family-related and societal factors that influence language and social development through the environment shaped by parents and neighbourhoods.  Analyses will include information from population-based cohorts (e.g. the EAGLE consortium) and cohorts of individuals with neurodevelopmental conditions (e.g. samples from the Simons Foundation). Statistical analyses will include, for example, Mendelian Randomization-based approaches to better understand possible causal chains as well as structural equation modelling techniques applied to genetic and/or epigenetic data.


The successful applicant will hold, or shortly expects to obtain, an MSc or MA qualification in Statistical Genomics, Genetic Epidemiology, Medical Statistics, Computing or a related quantitative discipline. Applicants should have a strong computational background with knowledge of shell, R, Python, Perl or another programming language. Knowledge of one or more of the following data-analytical approaches is an advantage:

  • Genomics' methods to analyse the genetic architecture of human phenotypes
  • Integration of biological information from a wide range of (publicly available) data resources

Familiarity with the genetic architecture of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a further advantage.

What we offer you

  • Full-time position (39 hours per week) with a term of appointment of 4 years. The proposed starting date is 1 October 2024, though the start date is negotiable.
  • The salary is determined according to the German TVöD (Tarifvertrag für den öffentlichen Dienst) and is classified in salary group/level E13, 65% of level 1). The current gross monthly salary is EUR 3,008.69, plus a holiday bonus of 8% of the gross salary (EUR 38,992.00 gross per year, including holiday bonus).
  • Access to state-of-the-art research and training facilities and a generous conference and travel budget
  • 30 days annual leave (based on full-time employment) as well as German and Dutch public holidays.
  • A nice team

How to apply

To apply, please submit via this link in our recruitment portal.

  1. a 2-page statement of interest
  2. a CV
  3. a list of publications
  4. names, email addresses and contact numbers of three referees

Applications will be reviewed from 15 May 2024 until the position is filled. 

For informal scientific enquiries, please get in touch with Beate St Pourcain (beate.stpourcain [at] mpi.nl (beate[dot]stpourcain[at]mpi[dot]nl)).

For general enquiries, please contact the secretariat at the Language & Genetics Department (secretariat.genetics [at] mpi.nl).

The employer

About our institute

The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics is a world-leading research institute devoted to interdisciplinary studies of the science of language and communication, including departments on genetics, psychology, development, neurobiology and multimodality of these fundamental human abilities.
We investigate how children and adults acquire their language(s), how speaking and listening happen in real-time, how the brain processes language, how the human genome contributes to building a language-ready brain, how multiple modalities (as in speech, gesture and sign) shape language and its use in diverse languages and how language is related to cognition and culture, and shaped by evolution.
We are part of the Max Planck Society, an independent non-governmental association of German-funded research institutes dedicated to fundamental research in the natural sciences, life sciences, social sciences, and the humanities.

The Max Planck Society is an equal opportunities employer. We recognise the positive value of diversity and inclusion, promote equity and challenge discrimination. We aim to provide a working environment with room for differences, where everyone feels a sense of belonging. Therefore, we welcome applications from all suitably qualified candidates.

Our institute is situated on the campus of Radboud University and has close collaborative links with the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour and the Centre for Language Studies at Radboud University. We also work closely with other child development researchers as part of the Baby & Child Research Center.
Staff and students at the MPI have access to state-of-the-art research and training facilities.

About the group

The population genetics of human communication group is led by Dr Beate St Pourcain and embedded within the Language & Genetics Department at the MPI. Research within the group focuses on (i) studying the genetic basis of social communication, language and interaction in population-based and clinical cohorts and (ii) developing statistical modelling approaches.

 Link to recruitment portal


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