Our established healthcare system is no longer sustainable due to the aging population demographics and the transformation of many fatal disorders into chronic diseases. Preventive healthcare is rising to the challenge of providing early diagnosis and assistance to the risk group populations, effectively allowing individuals to live healthy instead of living with chronic diseases. In this research project, we evaluate the dynamics, surrogacy, and strengths of several omic technologies to serve as a basis for risk profiles for chronic diseases. For this purpose, within the “I am Frontier” cohort, we are following 30 healthy participants on a monthly basis, which we use to generate different omics data sets including(but not limited to) genomics (Whole Genome Sequencing), epigenetics(Methylation), clinical biomarkers, microbiome, proteomics, and metabolomics. Moreover, we collect information about physiological parameters (heart-rate, sleep patterns …) and lifestyle (activity, food intake, stress, ...) via questionnaires and wearables. This data, used in combination with open science data from a range of diseases, allow us to profile individual risks for the onset of a disease..

The aim of this bioinformatics research project is to put the genomic information layer central to investigate and develop new approaches for utilizing genome data interactions between molecular intermediates, like, e.g., genome–metabolome, genome-proteome and genome-epigenome, that are relevant for the clinical outcome.

The data of the “I am Frontier” cohort can be augmented by publicly available information from different repositories like, the Cancer Genome Atlas, 1000 genomes project, etc. Hence affinity to creating genomics and other omics processing pipelines and workflows is crucial for the success of this project.

An interesting secondary research objective is to evaluate the surrogacy and redundancy in the genomic data when contrasted to other molecular layers. This could be of importance when considering issues related to GDPR.

We are looking for a highly motivated and scientifically excellent candidate in the genomics/bioinformatics background with a problem-solving attitude to work in an international, collegial environment. Strong communication skills complemented with innovative analytical thinking are important assets. This project is a strategical collaboration with VITO and the University of Hasselt and the candidate will be a member of both institutions.

This position will be filled as soon as a suitable candidate is found.



Applicants should hold an MSc degree in bioinformatics or biological disciplines (e.g. biomedical sciences, medicine, bioengineering science or equivalent) or computer science. Master students that obtain such a degree later this academic year can also apply.

  • Successful candidates are expected to demonstrate programming experience (e.g. R, Linux bash, Python).
  • Candidates with a computational background should demonstrate basic biology knowledge.
  • Candidates will be developing genomic and cross-omics workflows for processing the “I am Frontier” cohort data and auxiliary data resources.
  • A strong interest and motivation in genomics data analysis are required.
  • Candidates should be team players and have strong analytical problem-solving skills (creative, critical, and open-minded).
  • Good oral and written communication skills in English.

We offer:

  • a 4-year PhD-research project (candidates will be encouraged to apply for FWO grants in 2021).
  • a competitive enumeration during the Ph.D. period
  • participation in an exciting project on personalized and preventive health care.
  • a career development opportunity with access to data derived from cutting edge technologies and analysis platforms
  • to become a member of a dynamic and multi-disciplinary research team.
  • to embed in a research context with different top-research teams with a broad range of expertise.