29 June 2021

Get in touch!


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

Applicants must hold a Master’s degree when commencing the post. The earliest start date of the position is October 1st, 2021, but we are very happy to cater this for the ideal candidate.
You can apply for this job no later than July 28, 2021 via the online application tool

KU Leuven seeks to foster an environment where all talents can flourish, regardless of gender, age, cultural background, nationality or impairments. If you have any questions relating to accessibility or support, please contact us at

(ref. BAP-2021-536)

Apply before 28 July 2021

A new 4-year PhD training position is available in the team of Prof. Bernard Thienpont (Laboratory for Functional Epigenetics, KU Leuven, Belgium)

The Thienpont lab is a dynamic team of driven, enthusiastic and inclusive scientists. We aim to characterize the epigenetic mechanisms that underpin cell biology and its implications for disease by relying on (single cell) omics analyses of patient samples and functional in vitro assays. In this position, you will play a key role in the MICADO research consortium that strives to maximize the diagnostic and prognostic potential of cell-free DNA (cfDNA) analyses by combining multiple omics layers, with the aim to deliver superior methods for patient stratification and thus improve patient care.


Genomic medicine moves healthcare from being reactive to disease to being predictive to disease onset or from cure to prevention. Next-generation sequencing technologies have leveraged novel concepts to diagnose, treat and monitor diseases. Analysis of free-floating cfDNA from blood or other body fluids - called “liquid biopsy” - represents an emerging tool that enables non-invasive monitoring of tissue dynamics in multiple human physiological and pathological conditions, including pregnancy, cancer and other conditions. The MICADO partners are developing innovative approaches for (epi)genome-wide cfDNA analysis that can lead to novel applications to monitor health and disease. In this project we will increase the cfDNA knowledge base, develop novel analysis tools for mining and integration of cfDNA genomic and epigenome data that could enable development of new liquid biopsy-derived biomarkers. Apart from disease-specific (diagnostic) biomarkers, we will also leverage the full potential of (epi)genomic data for personalized polygenic risk scores assessments to enable patient stratification and guided patient/disease management. The integration of multi-omics data will provide novel and unique approaches for patient stratification, population screening as well as disease detection. Our technology will allow for earlier intervention, improve patient outcomes, increase overall population health and reduce health care costs.


You ideally have:

  • A keen interest and motivation to work on ambitious projects in a dynamic, driven team.
  • The ability to meet timelines and work accurately.
  • A passion for generating and analyzing high-throughput sequencing data.
  • A Master’s degree in engineering, bio-engineering, biomedical sciences, medicine or pharmacology, or equivalent qualifications.
  • Experience in genetics or epigenetics (desirable, not a prerequisite).

You will:

  • Work at the interface between the wet and dry lab.
  • Communicate results in professional manner in spoken and written English through papers, presentations and discussions with consortium members.
  • Supervise cell-free DNA methylome analyses, and perform NGS data analysis and integration.
  • Coordinate with other team members on cfDNA sample selection and processing.

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 actively 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.
We offer a 4-year contract on a competitive salary, pending positive evaluation by our doctoral school after 1 year.