Postdoctoral Research Scientist in Human Genomics

Post Doc
Language and Genetics

The Max Planck Institute in Nijmegen is offering postdoctoral positions (3-year duration) to work on projects that use state-of-the-art genomics to investigate the neurobiology and/or evolution of key aspects of human cognition, with a special focus on speech, language and reading. The work is embedded within the Language & Genetics Department of the Institute.

Job Description

Successful applicants will use in silico methods to decipher the genetics of distinct human cognitive traits, bringing together data from next-generation DNA sequencing, genome-wide association screens, neuroimaging genetics and comparative genomics. Our research takes advantage of unique cohorts that we have collected ourselves, as well as data from large-scale collaborative meta-analyses (including the ENIGMA consortium), and publically available resources (such as UK Biobank). Some example projects include (i) genetic architecture underlying brain structures that support unique human traits; (ii) evolutionary histories of genes associated with speech and language skills; (iii) genetic variations implicated in synaesthesia, an unusual human condition involving mixing of the senses. Choice of project is flexible and specifics will be discussed further at interview. Successful applicants are expected to take a leading role in performing analyses and writing up findings for publication, as well as giving presentations about the work at international conferences.


  • Successful applicants will hold, or shortly expect to obtain, a PhD qualification in the molecular basis of human traits, human population/evolutionary genetics, or a related field.
  • Experience in bioinformatic analyses of human genome/exome sequences, large-scale genotyping datasets and/or other ‘omics’ resources is essential, as is proficiency in coding/scripting, and in implementing existing data analysis pipelines.
  • Successful applicants will have a critical, careful and responsible approach to science, with strong organization skills, and will be adept in communicating project plans and outcomes to others, including clear writing up of reports and manuscripts.
  • Abilities to engage across fields in an interdisciplinary setting are also important, since the Max Planck Institute encourages synergies across diverse fields of research.

Conditions of Employment

  • Positions are available from September 2019, though the start date is negotiable.
  • Full-time position (39 hours per week) with a term of appointment of three years.
  • The salary is according to the German TVöD (starting salary €47,960 - €56,223 p.a.)
  • All research staff have access to cutting-edge research and training facilities and technical infrastructure, as well as a generous conference and travel budget.  


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 and neurobiology of these fundamental human abilities. 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. Situated on the campus of the Radboud University in Nijmegen, we are the only Max Planck Institute to be located in the Netherlands. Scientists in the Netherlands report among the highest job satisfaction ratings of any in the world. Our Institute places a strong emphasis on supporting career development and achieving a manageable work-life balance for all employees. We are committed to ensuring a collegial and cooperative working environment, which we believe is essential for the achievement of excellence in research. The Max Planck Society is an equal opportunities employer. Applications from women, people with disabilities and under-represented groups are particularly encouraged.

Research Environment

The Institute’s Language and Genetics Department is led by Simon Fisher, co-discoverer of FOXP2, the first gene to be implicated in a speech and language disorder. The Department adopts the latest innovations in molecular methods to discover how your genome helps you speak. We identify genes that are important for development of speech, language, reading and social communication, and use those genes as windows into the key neural pathways, as well as investigating their evolutionary foundations. This involves interdisciplinary research at multiple levels, from determining molecular interactions and functional roles in neuronal cell models to effects on brain structure and activity. We have close collaborative links with leading researchers at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour of Radboud University and the Human Genetics Department of Radboud University Medical Centre, as well as extensive networks of expert collaborators around the world. More information about our research can be found here:

How to apply
Applications should include:
(i)       A 2-page statement of interest, including motivation behind applying and specific
           explanation of how the applicant’s skills fit the requirements of the position;
(ii)      a CV;
(iii)     a list of publications;
(iv)     the names, email addresses and contact numbers of at least two referees who
           would be willing to provide letters of recommendation;

Applications and general enquiries should be sent to Martina Bernhard (Secretary, Language & Genetics Department); E-mail:

The deadline for applications is July 12th 2019.


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