PhD position in Statistical Genomics/Genetic Epidemiology

Language and Genetics

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 ( The host research group, led by Dr Beate St Pourcain, investigates the genetic basis of social communication, language and interaction in large population-based cohorts. 

Job description

The successful applicant will engage in genome-wide analyses of early language and social behaviour studying links with brain-related phenotypes and/or rhythmicity using omics data from international cohorts and consortia. A specific focus of the position will lie on the implementation of pathway-based enrichment analyses to characterise underlying genetic factors. Statistical analyses will involve, for example, Mendelian Randomisation-based approaches and structural equation modelling techniques applied to genetic, epigenetic and/or expression data. 

The appointment is for four years, with a salary according to the German TVöD (Tarifvertrag für den öffentlichen Dienst; starting salary: €34,651 p.a.). The candidate will also participate in the International Max Planck Research School for Language Sciences (, which involves both core and individually chosen coursework to complement the PhD research, and training in soft skills such as writing and presentation.


The successful applicant will hold, or shortly expect to obtain an MSc or MA qualification in Statistical Genomics, Genetic Epidemiology, Medical Biology, Medical Statistics or Computing or a related quantitative discipline. Applicants should have a strong computational background with knowledge of shell, R, and Python, Perl or another programming language. Familiarity with approaches for integrating biological information from a wide range of (publicly available) data resources is desirable.


The MPI for Psycholinguistics conducts interdisciplinary research into the psychological, social and biological foundations of language. Scientists at the Institute study a variety of topics including how children and adults acquire language, the role of genetic factors, how speaking and listening happen in real time, how the brain processes language for communication, and how language connects to cognition and culture. The Institute's approach to the science of language and communication is unique, addressing these fundamental issues at multiple levels, from molecules and cells to circuits and brains, all the way through to the behaviour of individuals and populations.

We are situated on the campus of the Radboud University in Nijmegen, and have close collaborative links with the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour and the Centre for Language Studies at Radboud University. Staff and students at the MPI have access to state-of-the art research and training facilities (including audio-visual equipment, EEG, fMRI, eye tracking, virtual reality labs, molecular biology labs and a child-friendly child development lab).

The Institute is 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 MPI for Psycholinguistics recognises the positive value of diversity, promotes equality and challenges discrimination. We are committed to redressing systemic problems with diversity in science, and therefore welcome applications from all suitably qualified candidates, irrespective of gender, disability, marital or parental status, racial, ethnic or social origin, colour, religion, belief, or sexual orientation.

Application procedure

Please submit your application directly via this link to our recruitment portal.

  1.     Statement of interest in the position
  2.     CV
  3.     List of publications
  4.     Names, email addresses and contact numbers of three referees who would be willing
             to provide letters of recommendation 


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

For general enquiries, please contact Martina Bernhard (Martina.Bernhard [at]


The proposed start date of the position is 1 September 2022. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis until the position has been filled. 


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