A 3-year postdoctoral position on Modeling Gene Disruptions in Human Neurons is available within the Language & Genetics Department at the Max Planck Institute, Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The department is led by Simon Fisher, co-discoverer of FOXP2, the first gene to be implicated in a speech and language disorder.
We adopt the latest innovations in molecular methods to discover how your genome helps you speak, identifying genes that are important for development of speech, language, reading and social communication, and using those genes as windows into the key neural pathways, as well as investigating evolutionary foundations. This involves interdisciplinary research at multiple levels, from determining molecular interactions and functional roles in neuronal cell models to assessing effects on brain structure and activity. We work together with leading researchers at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour and the Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, and with extensive networks of expert collaborators around the world.
Through whole genome DNA sequencing, we have identified rare gene disruptions that cause speech and language impairments in human neurodevelopmental disorders. The successful candidate will lead specific projects within an ongoing research programme that investigates the neurobiological consequences of such gene disruptions (in FOXP1/2/4, CHD3, SETBP1 among other genes). This programme adopts the latest human cell-culture techniques (stem-cell derived 2D and 3D neuronal models), CRISPR/Cas-based gene editing, single-cell RNA sequencing, and other state-of-the-art methods. The work is carried out in a custom-built molecular biology laboratory at the Max Planck Institute, which has its own cell-culture facilities, an advanced microfluidics system for high-throughput single-cell analyses, and dedicated histology and microscopy suites, including a confocal microscope with live cell-imaging capabilities. These resources are complemented by bioinformatic experts within the department, excellent in-house infrastructure for data analysis supported by a central technical group, and close collaborative links with the Human Genetics department of Radboudumc, on the same campus.
You are a research scientist who holds, or shortly expects to obtain, a PhD in a field that has given you extensive wet-laboratory experience, including hands-on work with human cell-culture models. Expertise in a range of molecular and cell biological methods is essential. Previous experience with generating and characterizing 2D neuronal cultures or brain spheroids/organoids is highly desirable. Familiarity or experience with gene-editing (e.g. via CRISPR/Cas), single-cell sequencing, assays of neuronal properties (e.g. differentiation and maturation, morphology, activity) and/or calcium imaging will be an advantage. You have a critical and careful approach to laboratory work and record keeping, and you strive for robustness and reproducibility of results. You are adept in communicating project plans and outcomes to others, in both spoken and written form. The successful candidate will be involved in supervising junior scientists, including students and research assistants, and writing up findings for publication, as well as giving presentations about the work at international conferences.
Conditions of employment
The position is available from July 2021, though the start date is negotiable. The term of appointment is full-time (39 hours per week) for three years. The salary is according to the German TVöD (Tarifvertrag für den öffentlichen Dienst) and is classified in salary group E13, between EUR 53,309 and 77,524 gross per year depending on the experience of the applicant (including 8% holiday bonus), based on full-time employment. 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.
The Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics recognizes 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 individuals from minority groups and from groups that are otherwise under-represented.
More information about the research of the Language & Genetics department can be found here:
How to apply
Applications should include:
The closing date for applications is 17th May 2021.
Send enquiries to Martina Bernhard (secretary): martina.bernhard [at] mpi.nl