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Postdoc - developing and applying methods for analysing GWAS data 1001254

Aarhus University is recruiting a 2-year postdoc in statistical genetics based at the Bioinformatics Research Centre (BiRC). The provisional starting date is 1st November 2018.

The postdoc will be jointly supervised by Drs Doug Speed, Manuel Matthiesen and Søren Dinesen Østergaard. There are two broad aims, however the specific projects will be decided according to the interests and experience of the successful applicant.

1 – Application of recently developed methods to genome-wide association study (GWAS) data.
Dr Speed has created the software package LDAK which contains a variety of methods for analysing GWAS data. These include the prediction tool MultiBLUP. A possible project of the postdoc will be applying MultiBLUP to GWAS data for a large number of traits (e.g., from dbGAP, the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium or UK Biobank), to compare its performance to that of rival methods such as polygenic risk scores and LDPred, then investigate ways MultiBLUP can be improved.

2 – Development of new methods for analysing GWAS data.
Central to LDAK is a method for estimating the SNP heritability of a trait, the proportion of phenotypic variation explained by all SNPs. To date, SNP heritability has been estimated only for common SNPs (MAF>0.01), but it is currently unknown how best to estimate the contribution of rare SNPs. Therefore, a potential project is investigating how best to estimate the rare SNP heritability of a trait. First the postdoc will test methods using simulated data, then apply the most successful to GWAS data for traits such as schizophrenia, alzheimer's disease and heart failure.

A PhD degree and strong expertise in statistical genetics is essential. The position will involve analysis of large-scale genetic datasets, so the ideal candidate would be familiar with popular genetic software (e.g, PLINK) and at least one coding languages (e.g. R).

Assistant Professor Doug Speed specializes in developing statistical methods for analyzing large scale GWAS data. He has released the software LDAK (www.ldak.org) which contains tools for detecting causal variants, constructing prediction models and better understanding genetic architecture, using both individual-level data and summary statistics.

Professor Matthiesen specializes in the analysis of large scale GWAS data and its clinical interpretation. He is a physician by training with a specialization in medical genetics, and has a strong background in genetic epidemiology, biostatistics and molecular genetics.

Professor Søren Dinesen Østergaard is a medical doctor who focuses on psychiatric research. He is particularly interested in translational psychiatry, and the idea that studies should cover the full pathway from discovery in the lab, bench to bedside, bedside to clinical applications, and from clinical applications to healthcare and global health.

Place of work and associated departments
The position will be primarily based at the Bioinformatics Research Centre, a department with approximately 50 members focused on the development of statistical models and computational algorithmns to analyse genetic data (www.birc.au.dk).

The place of work is C.F. Møllers Allé 8, 8000 Aarhus, and the area of employment is Aarhus University with related departments.   

If you have any questions about the position or application procedure, please contact doug@aias.au.dk.

Speed and Balding, MultiBLUP: improved SNP-based prediction for complex traits (2014)
Yang et al, Common SNPs explain a large proportion of the heritability for human height (2010)
Speed et al, Improved Heritability Estimation from Genome-wide SNPs (2012)

Application procedure
Shortlisting is used. This means that after the deadline for applications and with the assistance from the assessment committee chairman, and the appointment committee if necessary, the head of department selects the candidates to be evaluated. All applicants will be notified whether or not their applications have been sent to an expert assessment committee for evaluation. The selected applicants will be informed about the composition of the committee, and each applicant is given the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that concerns him/her self. Once the recruitment process is completed a final letter of rejection is sent to the deselected applicants, including the main considerations emphasized during the selection process.

Formalities and salary range

Science and Technology refers to the Ministerial Order on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Danish Universities under the Danish Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation.

The application must be in English and include a curriculum vitae, degree certificate, a complete list of publications, a statement of future research plans and information about research activities, teaching portfolio and verified information on previous teaching experience (if any). Guidelines for applicants can be found here.

Appointment shall be in accordance with the collective labour agreement between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Danish Confederation of Professional Associations. Further information on qualification requirements and job content may be found in the Memorandum on Job Structure for Academic Staff at Danish Universities. Salary depends on seniority as agreed between the Danish Ministry of Finance and the Confederation of Professional Associations.

All interested candidates are encouraged to apply, regardless of their personal background. Research activities will be evaluated in relation to actual research time. Thus, we encourage applicants to specify periods of leave without research activities, in order to be able to subtract these periods from the span of the scientific career during the evaluation of scientific productivity.

Aarhus University offers Relocation service to International researchers. You can read more about it here.


All applications must be made online and received by:

Please apply online here

Aarhus University is an academically diverse and research-intensive university with a strong commitment to high-quality research and education and the development of society nationally and globally. The university offers an inspiring research and teaching environment to its 39,000 students (FTEs) and 8,000 employees, and has an annual revenues of EUR 884 million Learn more at www.au.dk/en.