PhD Candidate: Genetic nurture in the familial transmission of depression and an


Universitair Centrum Psychiatrie

Working Enviroment

This vacancy for a talented PhD student is available at the Interdisciplinary Center Psychopathology and Emotion regulation (ICPE, of the University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG). The ICPE performs high-quality research on common mental disorders at the crossroads of various disciplines, and offers attractive career perspectives for motivated, gifted PhD students who are driven by curiosity and have a strong interest in multidisciplinary research.
The ICPE is part of the University Center of Psychiatry (UCP) of the UMCG. The UCP offers state of the art and innovative treatments to psychiatric patients, and has competitive research programs. The UCP includes about 450 employees who work in psychiatric health care, research, or both. The UCP offers excellent training for psychiatrists, psychologists, and other disciplines.

Job description

Depression and anxiety disorders run strongly in families. The familial transmission is partly due to the genes that parents transmit to their offspring. But parental genes may also act indirectly on the children, via the nurture provided, which is called ‘genetic nurture’. Recently, new genomic methods have been developed to study genetic nurture by comparing genotype data from parents and offspring in large multigenerational samples. The current study uses these new methods to investigate how genetic nurture effects contribute to the familial transmission of depression and anxiety disorders. First, the PhD candidate will test several software programs that are developed to differentiate transmitted from nontransmitted alleles in large samples including genome wide association studies (GWAS) data. Second, the candidate will examine how far genetic nurture effects explain depression and anxiety disorders using polygene scores. Third, the candidate will investigate through which aspects of parents’ behavior and their child-rearing environment genetic nurture effects act. For instance, do parents with a higher genetic risk for depression experience more stressful life events, have a different parenting style or socio-economic situation, which impacts on their children’s risk of depression? This multidisciplinary project combines knowledge and methods from molecular genetics, epidemiology, psychiatry and developmental psychology.

Job description
- You perform research on this project, a.o. by performing complex genetic analyses.
- You report your results in high quality scientific journals and completes a dissertation.
- You work in an enthusiastic multidisciplinary research team including experts from relevant different backgrounds (e.g. genetics, psychiatry, psychology, epidemiology).
- Your training is embedded in graduate school SHARE which is part of the Graduate School of Medical Sciences.


This project is for a motivated candidate holding a Research Master or Master’s degree in bioinformatics/biostatistics, molecular genetics, genetic epidemiology, psychology, or biology with:
- a proven interest in science, preferably demonstrated by one or more scientific publications in international peer-reviewed journals, and a Research Master’s degree;
- skills to combine insights from multiple disciplines;
- you appreciate the challenge to work in both psychiatry and genetics;
- you have an interest in molecular genetics;
- you have experience with working in a programming language such as R or Python, and preferably also with working on a high performance cluster;
- capacity to program and document in a Linux computing environment;
- good communicative and organizational skills;
- excellent ability to express himself or herself in oral and written English;
- capacities as a team player who can also work independently and has perseverance.

The UMCG has a preventive Hepatitis B policy. The UMCG can provide you with the vaccination, should it be required for your position.

In case of specific professions a ‘Certificate of Good Conduct’ is required.

Conditions of employment

We offer A PhD position for a period of four years. The appointment will be at the Department of Psychiatry of University Medical Center Groningen (UMCG).

Your salary is € 2.495,- gross per month in the first year up to a maximum of € 3.196,- gross per month in the last year (scale PhD) depending on your qualifications and relevant experience, based on a full-time appointment. In addition, the UMCG will offer you 8% holiday pay and 8.3% end-of-year bonus. The terms of employment comply with the Collective Labour Agreement for Medical Centers (CAO-UMC). English:

More information
For more information please contact:
- Dr. H.M. van Loo, principal investigator of the study, e-mail: (please do not use for applications)

Additional information

Applying for a job

Please use the the digital application form at the bottom of this page - only these will be processed. You can apply until 18 October 2020. Within half an hour after sending the digital application form you will receive an email- confirmation with further information.

Digital application form