PhD, Max Planck (Nijmegen (NL))

The Max Planck Institute (MPI) for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen (NL), is offering a research assistant or 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 social behaviour and its links with personality traits and other phenotypes by studying large genome-wide and omics data from international cohorts and consortia. Statistical analyses will involve, for example, Mendelian Randomisation-based approaches and structural equation modelling techniques applied to genetic, epigenetic and/or expression data, in addition to standard genome-wide association studies. There will also be opportunities to engage in R package development.

The appointment is for four years, with a salary according to the German TVöD (Tarifvertrag für den öffentlichen Dienst). Depending on the interests and qualifications of the candidate, the contract will either be offered as a research assistant position (classified in salary group E09a or E09b between EUR 36,697 and EUR 54,943 p.a., based on full-time employment) or a PhD position (starting salary: EUR 32,813 p.a.). The PhD student 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 Statistics, 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 in Nijmegen is an internationally leading research institute studying how our minds and brains process language, including their underlying genetic architectures. The institute has a multidisciplinary stimulating research environment, excellent facilities and computing resources. We are situated on the campus of the Radboud University and have close collaborative links with the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and the Human Genetics Department of Radboud University Medical Centre. 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. Applications from women, people with disabilities and under-represented groups are particularly encouraged.

Application procedure

Please send the following documents in a single pdf file by e-mail to Martina Bernhard (Secretary, Language & Genetics Department:

  1.     Statement of interest in the position
  2.    CV including coursework
  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 ( For general enquiries, please contact Martina Bernhard. Please indicate whether we can keep your application details and personal information for a duration of up to 2 years so that we can contact you if future positions at the MPI arise. The job interview will be held in English.


Applications will be reviewed from 1 December 2019 onwards until the position has been filled. The proposed starting date is negotiable.