KU Leuven

PhD in genomics for disease resistance in cattle and pigs

2024-07-22 (Europe/Brussels)
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KU Leuven is an autonomous university. It was founded in 1425. It was born of and has grown within the Catholic tradition.

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At the Department of Biosystems of the University of Leuven (Belgium), the Center for Animal Breeding and Genetics conducts research on genomics of farm and pet animals under supervision of Prof. Nadine Buys. We have an open, full-time PhD position in unraveling the genetic basis of psoroptic mange susceptibility in Belgian Blue cattle in collaboration with the research groups of Prof. Carole Charlier at the University of Liège and Prof. Edwin Claerebout at Ghent University.
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The project is dedicated to the Pietrain pig breed and Belgian Blue cattle. These Belgian breeds are globally amongst the most efficient and performant, but they still suffer from genetic diseases and disorders leading to an impaired animal welfare. In pigs, genetic disorders such as scrotal hernia, cryptorchidism and porcine splay leg syndrome impose serious welfare issues and these are also observed in Pietrains. Belgian Blue cattle are extremely sensitive to psoroptic mange. For each of these conditions, prior research of our group has identified putative loci and candidate genes resulting from transcriptomic analyses and genome-wide association studies. This project aims to use cutting edge genomic sequencing techniques to identify causal variants and underlying mechanisms based on this prior research. These identified causative mutations can be used in selection programs. In order to do so, we will develop an innovative approach to properly weigh and utilize genetic test results, breeding values and genomic information in practical breeding strategies.

The PhD candidate will focus on the genetic background of psoroptic mange susceptibility in Belgian Blue cattle. After completion of the PhD training program you will have acquired the skills needed for a scientist who is ready for future challenges. This means that you will be conducting cutting-edge research in genomics and bioinformatics under the close supervision of prof. Nadine Buys and Dr. Meyermans, collaborate with your colleagues (within and outside the lab) and participate in the daily activities of the lab. You are encouraged to guide master thesis students, participate in national and international conferences and disseminate your research results in scientific publications.


Our team is looking for a PhD candidate who should fulfil the following requirements:
• You have a European master’s degree cum laude in Bioscience Engineering, Bioinformatics, Biomedical sciences, Veterinary sciences, Biotechnology, Biology, Biochemistry or related discipline
• You are highly motivated to do research in a dynamic research environment. 
• You have a strong interest in animal genomics and breeding
• You are interested in field work with cattle and pigs and you have a Felasa B certificate (or are interested in acquiring one)
• You are communicative, creative, eager to learn and able to work independently as well as part of a team
• You are familiar with statistical programming (R, SAS, Python, ..)


We offer you a full-time PhD position for 4 years, pending on a positive evaluation by your PhD committee after year 1. Remuneration will be according to the KU Leuven salary scales (https://www.kuleuven.be/personeel/jobsite/en/phd/phd-information#working-conditions) and includes generous benefits in addition to Belgium’s strong social supports.
Our dynamic team will support you to successfully obtain a PhD degree via an in-depth scientific training at a top-ranked university. You acquire training in animal genomics and bio-informatics and have  access to state-of-the-art genomics techniques. You will have opportunities to participate in national and international meetings and establish your own network, as well as to publish your results in respected academic journals. In addition, you receive career guidance and are encouraged to develop soft skills for science-adjacent careers in policy or communication via the Arenberg Doctoral School (https://set.kuleuven.be/phd)


For more information please contact Prof. dr. Nadine Buys, tel.: +32 16 32 14 38, mail: nadine.buys@kuleuven.be or Dr. Roel Meyermans, tel.: +32 16 32 03 76, mail: roel.meyermans@kuleuven.be.

KU Leuven strives for an inclusive, respectful and socially safe environment. We embrace diversity among individuals and groups as an asset. Open dialogue and differences in perspective are essential for an ambitious research and educational environment. In our commitment to equal opportunity, we recognize the consequences of historical inequalities. We do not accept any form of discrimination based on, but not limited to, gender identity and expression, sexual orientation, age, ethnic or national background, skin colour, religious and philosophical diversity, neurodivergence, employment disability, health, or socioeconomic status. For questions about accessibility or support offered, we are happy to assist you at this email address.

Job details

PhD in genomics for disease resistance in cattle and pigs
Oude Markt 13 Leuven, Belgium
Application deadline
2024-07-22 23:59 (Europe/Brussels)
2024-07-22 23:59 (CET)
Job type
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