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PhD-student on the development of cognitive and brain reserve

  • 18.19.19.TG
  • 36 hours per week
  • Epidemiologie

Job description

In neuroscience, the concept of ‘reserve’ suggests that early in life a cognitive and brain reserve, measured with cognitive tests and MRIs of the brain, is built up and that this reserve can buffer the effects of neuropathology later in life. As such, persons who have built up a larger reserve can better withstand the adverse effects of accumulating brain pathology. Although the effects of reserve are typically seen later in life, the reserve itself is built up early in life. In this project the PhD student will investigate the role of genetic and environmental factors on the development of cognitive and brain reserve in childhood, and work towards identifying new indicators of brain and cognitive reserve. There will be a specific focus on early life stressors (pre- and post-natal), epigenetics and sleep. The project will be executed within Generation R, a unique Rotterdam-based birth cohort that started in 1999, and currently the largest neuroimaging birth-cohort in the world.

The PhD student will use biological, psychosocial and neuro-imaging data from Generation R for the research project. This includes longitudinal data from pregnancy up to 16 years of age, collected during home-visits, research visits at the Generation R research centre and the follow-up of health records.

The PhD student will participate in the Generation R data collection, analyse data and write peer-reviewed international publications which will result in a PhD thesis. In addition, the PhD student will participate in research meetings, supervisory meeting and collaborations with national and international research groups. During the PhD the student will take a MSc course in Epidemiology at the Netherlands Institute for Health Sciences.

Work environment

Erasmus MC stands for a healthy population and excellence in healthcare. By conducting groundbreaking work, we aim to push boundaries through leading the way in research, education and healthcare. We have access to the latest equipment and techniques in a state-of-the-art environment.

The PhD student will be employed at the Department of Epidemiology and will have an honorary contract with the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry/Psychology. The project is a collaboration between the Psychiatric Epidemiology research group, which studies the aetiology and effects of common psychiatric diseases such as depression, anxiety and sleep disturbance, and the Generation R Behaviour and Cognition group, which examines how environmental and biological factors shape cognitive development and the emergence of psychiatric symptoms in children.

Qualifications and skills

We are looking for a candidate with a MSc degree in medicine, biomedical sciences, psychology, neurosciences or a related discipline. You have affinity with scientific questions around the structure and function of the brain and psychopathology. You have a analytical mind set and experience in quantitative research. You are able to work well in a team and alone. You have excellent writing and presenting skills. Proficiency in both Dutch and English is a requirement because of the data collection.

Being able to present a certificate of good conduct, a valid proof of identity, diploma's and/ or relevant registration such as BIG/ RGS are conditions for the appointment.

Terms of employment

A 1-year full-time contract will be offered at first, a 2,5 year extension will be offered on proven ability. The gross monthly salary amounts a maximum of € 4.361,- (scale 10), depending on your level of education and relevant experience and based on a full-time working week of 36 hours. The terms of employment are in accordance with the Collective Bargaining Agreement for University Medical Centers (CAO UMC).

Information and application

For more information about this position, please contact Charlotte Cecil, assistant professor Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, e-mail: or Annemarie Luik, assistant professor Epidemiology, e-mail: For queries regarding your application, please contact Jerry Chandansingh, recruiter, phone number: +31 (010 703 18 92.

If you are excited by the thought of this position and would like to apply, please do so by using the application form on our website.

Interviews will be held on 12 June 2019 (first round) and 17 June 2019 (second round).

No agencies please.