ERC funded Postdoc position: Computational methods in neurodegeneration research

Leuven VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research

29 Nov 2022

Leuven

VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research

Patrik Verstreken Lab

Post-doctoral

1

About the lab

The Verstreken Lab at the VIB-KU Leuven Center for Brain & Disease Research, Belgium, unravels the mechanisms of dementia and neurodegeneration. The lab has been supported by the ERC for the past 15 years, and they are seeking a motivated and enthusiastic colleague with strong computational skills to join their team. 

About the project

Dementia is closely associated with synaptic degeneration and this also correlates with the pathology of the protein Tau. Interestingly, historic observations in hamsters and squirrels show that when they enter into hibernation, they also display Tau pathology and synaptic loss. However, there is an important difference: synaptic loss is progressive in dementia, but reversible in hibernating animals. It is not known (1) if cellular and synaptic changes are uniform across the hibernating brain, (2) if the mechanisms involved are similar in different types of neurons, and (3) if other cells, beyond neurons, are involved.  

The goal of this project is to define and study the molecular drivers of synaptic remodeling during cycles of hibernation. The goal is to combine new single-cell and spatial omics technologies in hamster brains with bioinformatics and machine learning and then compare the changes in hibernation to alterations in dementia in human brains. The ultimate gain is that you will uncover mechanisms of a remarkable process of synaptic resilience (in hibernating animals) and define if these are directly relevant to mechanisms of dementia and neurodegeneration.

Selected references:

   Zhou et al., 2017 Nat Comms

   McInnes et al., 2018 Neuron

   Davie et al., 2018 Cell

   Valadas et al., 2018 Neuron

   Largo-Barrientos et al., 2021 Neuron

   Praschberger et al., 2022 bioRxiv

Your job

You will work with a team of scientists interested in (1) mechanisms of neurodegeneration, (2) cellular determinants of disease, and (3) the development of translational strategies. The goal is to implement single cell and spatial omics technologies and set up analysis pipelines to describe and predict relevant changes.  

You will have access to excellent support facilities, including the VIB single-cell core and expertise unit, bioinformatics unit, the Flemish supercomputer facility, and many more. This entails the development of tools to deal with large amounts of biological data and to interpret these data. Depending on your interest, this can also entail core wet-lab work running spatial (multi-) omics experiments, using custom protocols and innovative automated instrumentation (advanced robotics, fluidics, microscopy).

Profile

We are seeking a highly motivated, enthusiastic, critical, and creative individual to join our team. The candidate should have a strong interest in computational biology and neurodegenerative disease.

Essential

  • You obtained a Ph.D. in Bioinformatics, Computer Science, Physics, Engineering, Bio-engineering, or equivalent.
  • A solid publication record with research publication(s) in peer-reviewed international journals
  • Excellent track record in computational biology (ideally single-cell omics tools)
  • Programming experience (Python, R).
  • Team player and a great collaborator
  • Strong interest in the field of dementia/neurodegeneration

Useful but not required

  • Prior experience with neurobiology (ideally neurodegenerative diseases)
  • Prior experience with spatial transcriptomics or other single-cell biology approaches
  • Experience with machine learning (e.g., Tensorflow/Keras/PyTorch).
  • Molecular biology and experimental lab work
  • Experience with software containers and/or NextFlow

We offer

  • A versatile and challenging job in a vibrant, world-class research environment operating at an international level
  • State-of-the-art research facilities
  • State-of-the-art computing facilities
  • A dedicated training program to broaden your expertise and enhance your skill set
  • A competitive compensation package based on expertise and experience
  • Financial support for at least 2 years. The successful candidate is encouraged to obtain a personal fellowship (Marie-Curie, HFSP, EMBO, or national funding organizations)
  • Starting Date: as soon as possible

How to apply?

For more information contact patrik.verstreken@kuleuven.be. Please complete the online application procedure and include a motivation letter, a detailed CV, including a list of publications, and the contact information of three referees.

VIB values diversity - in backgrounds and in experiences. The institute needs people from all backgrounds and ways of life to help build a thriving scientific environment. VIB is therefore looking for candidates who are not only strong in their own aptitudes but care deeply about supporting each other's growth. VIB's collaborators are people with different strengths, experiences and backgrounds, who share a passion for science that generates impact in science and in society. Diversity not only includes race and gender identity, but also nationality, age, disability status, sexual orientation, religion and many other parts of one’s identity. All of VIB’s employees’ points of view are key to its success, and inclusion is everyone's responsibility.