PhD position - Role of PTEN/PI3K mutations in increased risk for autism spectrum disorder

Job Description

Mutations in the PTEN and PI3K genes have been shown to increase the risks for ASD. However, the function of these proteins in the brain and their role in ASD are largely unknown. The PhD student on this project will: characterize the interactions between PTEN and PI3K mutations and the mTOR pathway in neurons at the molecular and cell morphological level; perform behavioural phenotyping of transgenic mouse models of PTEN and PI3K mutations found in the patient cohorts behavioural and perform cognitive tests in patient cohorts.

This project is a part of the PIPgen International Consortium. 

The PIPgen network brings together 9 leading European basic and clinical institutions and 3 private companies experts in the PI3K/PTEN- related diseases, to train 15 researchers in a wide range of scientific and complementary competences. Selected candidates will carry out specific projects under the supervision of a Principal Investigator within one of the 11 world-leading European host institutions from the network. They will also perform secondments in other institutions within the network to provide the needed interactions to achieve research and training excellence, and to improve their future career perspectives.

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No. 955534

NOTE: The application has to be submitted exclusively through an online application platform to be found on the PIPgen website: Applications must be in English.

 In compliance with the EU mobility clause candidates should not have lived in The Netherlands for more than 12 months in the last 3 years.

Minimum Qualifications

We are looking for a talented, highly motivated candidate that holds an MSc degree in Molecular Biology, Neuroscience, Biomedical Sciences or a related field and has a strong interest in molecular neuroscience. High level of written and spoken English and strong programming skills for the data analysis ( e.g. MATLAB/Python/C++) are required. The ideal candidate will have experience with wet-lab techniques and the analysis of mouse behavior. Experience with computational modeling and electrophysiology would be considered a plus. The ideal candidate is an effective communicator, combining independent thinking with a collaborative attitude. The candidate will be selected on the basis of excellence, a strong molecular background, willingness and enthusiasm to engage in multidisciplinary research; possession of relevant academic background and training; strong academic references and/or prior publications.

Being able to present a certificate of good conduct is a condition for the appointment.

Work environment: A healthy population and excellence in healthcare through research and education. This is what Erasmus MC stands for. Conducting groundbreaking work, pushing boundaries and leading the way. In research, education, and healthcare. We are practical people with a high level of expertise, working hard to improve and renew the healthcare of today and the public health of tomorrow.

The Neural Networks Underlying Behavioral Flexibility group is part of the Department of Neuroscience, which houses innovative technologies and top-level facilities to support its research programs. Research at our department is dedicated to plasticity and dynamics of sensori-motor and cognitive systems in health and disease. We investigate those at the physiological, anatomical and molecular level in 20 different research groups. Our group aims to understand how brain activity translates into behaviors that adapt to ever-changing environments and how in some disorders, characterized by repetitive and stereotyped behaviors (such as autism spectrum disorder) this adaptation to changes in conditions does not occur at all. The Department of Neuroscience is embedded in the dynamic, internationally competitive research community of over 40 biomedical research labs within the Erasmus MC. The main language of the research community is English. During the PhD training, our students follow specialized lab courses organized by the Graduate School at Erasmus MC.

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