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Why do we change how we speak? Genetic and environmental factors contributing to developmental changes in language and communication abilities

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  • Full or part time
    Dr B St Pourcain
    Prof S. Fisher
  • Application Deadline
    No more applications being accepted
  • Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)
    Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About This PhD Project

Project Description

The genetic architecture of language and communication skills during development is often perceived as a constant entity. Social communication abilities, however, show considerable variation in heritability and genetic influences during childhood and adolescence, which may reflect processes of pubertal maturation. This PhD project aims to characterise these changes through genetic and epigenetic analyses.

Research objectives include:
• Characterisation of biological pathways underlying language and communication abilities at different stages during development
• Identification of individual genetic loci contributing to phenotypic change
• Investigation of developmental changes in epigenetic profiles

Work environment -

The MPI in Nijmegen is an internationally recognized, leading research institute, with a stimulating environment, excellent facilities and resources. The Language & Genetics Department uses state-of-the-art methods and cutting-edge technologies to trace the connections between genes, neuronal and brain functions, and behaviour. We benefit from close connections with the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour, and the Human Genetics Department at Radboud University Medical Centre, and we are key players in several prominent international consortia focused on human neurogenetics.

What we expect from you -

Candidates should have, or shortly expect to obtain, a high quality Research Master’s degree in Genetics/Genomics, Biomedical Sciences, Neurobiology, Genetic Epidemiology, Bioinformatics, Computational Science, Medical Statistics or another relevant field of study. Masters degrees should involve several months of experience and training on a scientific project. Data analysis skills in scripting and handling large datasets will be an advantage. Candidates should have an interest in the genetics of language and brain function and familiarity with research methods in Genetic Epidemiology is desirable.

What we have to offer -

The PhD position is fully funded for 4 years (1.0 fte, starting salary is €2,125 per month). The Language & Genetics department provides in addition fully equipped research facilities, technical support, as well as a conference and travel budget. PhD students in the department participate in the International Max Planck Research School which involves both core and individually chosen coursework to complement the PhD research, and training in soft skills such as writing and presentation.

The Max Planck Society is an equal opportunity employer. Applications from women, people with disabilities and under-represented groups are particularly encouraged. The business of the institute is conducted in English, and candidates should have excellent written and spoken command of this language.

Application process -

Applications should include:

(i) Statement of interest in either one or both of the positions detailing why you are the most suitable candidate for the post
(ii) CV including publication list
(iii) Names, email addresses and contact numbers of three referees who would be willing to provide letters of recommendation

Applications or enquiries should be made to Martina Bernhard (Secretary, Language & Genetics Department).

Email: [email protected]

The deadline for applications is 15 February 2016. Interviews will be held during the week commencing 7 March 2016. The proposed starting date is 1 September 2016 but an earlier start date can be arranged if required.

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