Postdoctoral Position in Inherited and De Novo Genetic Variation in the Etiopathogenesis of Parkinson’s Disease

Catholic University of Leuven

A new 3-year postdoctoral position is available in the team of Prof. Bernard Thienpont at the Laboratory for Functional Epigenetics (KU Leuven, Belgium). Our multidisciplinary team develops and applies cutting-edge epigenetic analyses to investigate cell biology in a range of conditions. In this position you will play a key role in an international project to understand inherited and de novo genetic variation in the etiopathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease.


Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a degenerative disorder of the central nervous system that mainly affects the motor system. It not only affects the function of our brain, but also of our gut, which are both complex tissues composed of functionally diverse types of cells that need to cooperate for organ function. At least 90 regions in our genome predispose people for PD. Furthermore, as we develop and age, new genomic alterations may also arise in some of our cells. How such inherited and new DNA variants function in increasing PD risk remains largely unknown. The aim of this project is to investigate how, in which cells and in which physiological context, PD risk loci affect chromatin accessibility, DNA methylation and gene expression, to induce or accelerate PD onset and progression. To achieve this, you will exploit single cell nucleosome, methylome and transcriptome profiling, and analyse the resultant multi-omic datasets. Your work will thus define how the genome influences PD, and generate important new knowledge in the areas of PD pathogenesis and progression. You mayalso contribute generalisable approaches to study the common diseasegenetics.This work is part of an international multidisciplinary consortium funded by ASAP, composed of the teams of Profs. Thierry Voet, Stein Aerts, Guy Boeckxstaens and Christos Proukakis.


As an ideal candidate, you have a strong interest and background in -omics method development and analysis, particularly in the area of epigenetics. Previous experience in the study of neurodegenerative disorders is desirable but not a prerequisite. Your role is situated at the interface between the wet and dry lab work, and solid experience with both will therefore be considered a strong plus. Previous experience in analyzing high-throughput data is a must. Your responsibilities include coordination with other team members on brain and colon sample selection and processing, single cell methylome, nucleosome accessibility and transcriptome sequencing libraries, NGS data analysis and integration. You are able to communicate results in professional manner in spoken and written English (papers,presentations and discussions with other consortium members). You are interested and motivated to work on ambitious projects in an open, dynamic,competitive and driven team. You have a strong ability to meet timelines and work accurately. You have a good publication record, including at least one paper as a first author, in peer-reviewed international journals (we value quality over quantity). Applicants must hold a PhD or have their thesis submitted when commencing the post. The start date of the position is March 2021, but we are happy to cater this for the ideal candidate.


The Thienpont lab is a dynamic team of driven, enthusiastic and inclusive scientists who aim to characterize the epigenetic mechanisms that underpin the biology of the cell and its implications for understanding and monitoring disease. We rely on combining (single cell) omics analyses of patient samples with functional invitro assays to study how epigenetic changes contribute to disease (Thienpont, Nature 2016; Lambrechts, Nature Medicine 2018; D’Anna Genome Biology 2020). We have onsite access to state-of-the-art facilities, including single cell analysis platforms, Flow cytometry, High-Throughput Sequencing, Bioinformatics, Imaging, high-capacity computing and others. We are committed to inclusivity and diversity in the workplace, and value a positive, empowering and engaging attitude in every team member. Located in Leuven, a small but vibrant and international town by the river Dijle where centuries of history meet cutting-edge science, we are only a stone’s throw away from the cosmopolitan city of Brussels, the heart of Europe. We are part of the University of Leuven, one of the oldest and most prestigious universities of Europe. Founded in 1425, it is Belgium’s largest university, currently featuring among the best universities in the world according to the Times Higher Education and recently ranked as Europe’s most innovative for the third year in a row.


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Bernard Thienpont, mail:

You can apply for this job no later than January 31, 2021 via the
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  • Employment percentage: Voltijds
  • Location: Leuven
  • Apply before: January 31, 2021
  • Tags: Bio-ingenieurswetenschappen