PhD Position: Animal (epi)genetics and genomics

Published on
June 8, 2021
Location Wageningen
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We are looking for

We are looking for an enthusiastic PhD candidate, with a passion for one or more of the following research fields: epigenomics, animal genetics/genomics, quantitative genetics, and reproduction biology.  
The PhD will be employed at a newly funded H2020 project GEroNIMO: “Genome and Epigenome eNabled breeding in MOnogastrics”. GEroNIMO aims at developing innovative knowledge and tools to promote genome and epigenome-enabled methods for selection methods for production traits in pig and chicken.
The project is a collaboration between several European academic Universities and industrial partners. The candidate will be employed at Wageningen University at Animal Breeding and Genomics and will also have office at the pig breeding company Topigs Norsvin Research Centre, Beuningen.
It is well known that phenotypic variation, like human height and obesity are influenced by both genes an individual has received from its parents and by the environment an individual has been growing up in. There is, however, an additional and less well studied component contributing to phenotypic variation: the epigenome. This also applies to complex traits in animal breeding. The aim of the project that the PhD will be working on is to contribute to unravel biological mechanisms underpinning efficient livestock production traits. 
Specifically, the PhD candidate will be involved in a project aiming at estimating the contribution of genetics and epigenetics on pig sperm fertility and the environmental impact on epigenetic variation in pig sperms. The candidate will be involved in sampling, isolating of genetic material in the laboratory and analyses of genetics and epigenetics data from a large number of pig sperm samples. The results that the PhD candidate produce will be used to improve genomic prediction models and thereby contribute to a more sustainable animal production.  

  • Prof. Henk Bovenhuis, WUR
  • Dr. Ole Madsen, WUR
  • Dr. Barbara Harlizius, Topigs Norsvin Research Centre
Project partners:
  • INRAe (France),
  • University of Copenhagen (Denmark),
  • Institut Supérieur des Sciences Agronomiques (France),
  • Linköping University (Sweden), Novogen (France),
  • Faculdade de Medicina Veterinária (Portugal)

We ask

All candidates should meet the following requirements: A strong Master’s degree in a relevant quantitative field (Genetics, Statistics, data analysis) or in a biological field (Genomics/epigenomics, Bioinformatics, reproduction biology). 
The candidate should have: 
  • A strong interest in fundamental and applied research. 
  • A strong interest in animal genetics and reproductive biology.
  • A strong interest in genetics and (epi)genomics analysis
  • Knowledge on bioinformatics and computer scripting (e.g experience with Python, Linux, R) 
  • Be creative and innovative.
  • Good organisational and (written and spoken) communication skills in English, as well as a proven ability to collaborate with others.
  • Willingness to travel internationally, to attend international project meetings and conferences and visit other institutes. 

We offer

Wageningen University & Research offers excellent terms of employment. A few highlights from our Collective Labour Agreement include:
• sabbatical leave, study leave, and paid parental leave;
• working hours that can be discussed and arranged so that they allow for the best possible work-life balance;
• the option to accrue additional holiday hours by working more, up to 40 hours per week;
• there is a strong focus on vitality and you can make use of the sports facilities available on campus for a small fee;
• a fixed December bonus of 8.3%;
• excellent pension scheme.

In addition to these first-rate employee benefits, you will receive a fully funded PhD position and you will be offered a course program tailored to your needs and the research team. The gross salary for the first year is € 2.395,- per month rising to € 3.061,- in the fourth year in according to the Collective Labour Agreements for Dutch Universities (CAO-NU) (scale P). This is based on a full-time working week of 38 hours.

We offer a temporary contract for 18 months which will be extended for the duration of the project if you perform well. There are plenty of options for personal initiative in a learning environment, and we provide excellent training opportunities. We are offering a unique position in an international environment with a pleasant and open working atmosphere.

You are going to work at the greenest and most innovative campus in Holland, and at a university that has been chosen as the “Best University” in the Netherlands for the 16th consecutive time.

Coming from abroad Wageningen
University & Research is the university and research centre for life sciences. The themes we deal with are relevant to everyone around the world and Wageningen, therefore, has a large international community and a lot to offer to international employees.

Applicants from abroad moving to the Netherlands may qualify for a special tax relief, known as the 30% ruling. Our team of advisors on Dutch immigration procedures will help you with the visa application procedures for yourself and, if applicable, for your family.

Feeling welcome also has everything to do with being well informed. Wageningen University & Research's International Community page contains practical information about what we can do to support international employees and students coming to Wageningen.

Furthermore, we can assist you with any additional advice and information about helping your partner to find a job, housing, schooling, and other issues.

More information

Do you want more information?
Additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from: 
Dr Ole Madsen (; +31317482003) or prof. Henk Bovenhuis (; +31317483921) 
For further information about working at Wageningen University & Research, take a look at
Do you want to apply?
You can apply directly using the apply button on the vacancy page on our website which will allow us to process your personal information with your approval.

This vacancy will be listed up to and including 27th June 2021. We hope to schedule the first job interviews soon after the closing date.

We are

Wageningen University & Research
The mission of Wageningen University and Research is “To explore the potential of nature to improve the quality of life”. Under the banner Wageningen University & Research, Wageningen University and the specialised research institutes of the Wageningen Research Foundation have joined forces in contributing to finding solutions to important questions in the domain of healthy food and living environment.

With its roughly 30 branches, 6.500 employees and 12.500 students, Wageningen University & Research is one of the leading organisations in its domain. An integrated approach to problems and the cooperation between various disciplines are at the heart of Wageningen’s unique approach. WUR has been named Best Employer in the Education category for 2019-2020.

Wageningen University & Research Animal Breeding and Genomics (WUR-ABG) is the centre of excellence for all national and international animal breeding and genomics activities (research and education) of Wageningen University & Research (

These are the points our employees list as good reasons to come work at WUR: read the 5 reasons to come work at WUR.

We will recruit for the vacancy ourselves, so no employment agencies please. However, sharing in your network is appreciated.

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