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PhD student for the project on the role of early-life stress in the development of depressive and cardio-metabolic multi-morbidity across the lifespan

  • Research & Education
  • 36 hours
  • Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

  • Closing date 03-03-2020
  • 04.14.20.TS

Job description

Exposure to early-life stress (ELS), such as prenatal stress and childhood maltreatment, is a known risk factor for mental health problems across the lifespan, including depression. Recently, studies have found that ELS also increases risk for a range of physical disorders, such as cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Despite the fact that depressive, cardiovascular, and metabolic disorders are highly comorbid, little is known about the role of ELS in their co-occurrence, and what biological mechanisms are involved.

The aim of this project is to examine the relationship between ELS and the development of psycho-cardio-metabolic multi-morbidity across the lifespan, as well as to identify underlying biological mechanisms (e.g. epigenetics, inflammation, microbiome and neuroendocrine function). The project is part of a large European-funded consortium, involving multiple national and international institutions and the analysis of data from human cohorts spanning pregnancy to old age. The PhD student will be embedded within the Generation R Study, a unique Rotterdam-based birth cohort that started in 2002 and has been following the lives of nearly 10,000 children across development. The PhD student will use environmental, biological, psychosocial and physical health data from Generation R for the research project. This includes longitudinal data from pregnancy up to 13 years of age, collected based on questionnaires as well as during home-visits and visits at the Generation R research center.

The PhD student will participate in the Generation R data collection, analyse data and write peer-reviewed international publications that will result in a PhD thesis. This will be done in close collaboration with the Departments of Epidemiology and Paediatrics, as well as with national and international research groups. The student will take an MSc course in (Genetic) Epidemiology at the Netherlands Institute for Health Sciences (Nihes) and will be supervised by Dr. Charlotte Cecil, who leads the biological psychopathology research in Generation R, Dr. Janine Felix, principal investigator of Epigenetic Epidemiology in Generation R, and Prof.dr. Henning Tiemeier, principal investigator of Psychiatric Epidemiology in Generation R.

Work environment

The PhD student will be employed at the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry/Psychology, which focuses on patient care, teaching and research activities to improve child and adolescent mental health. A key aim of the department is to study the frequency, determinants and course of child psychiatric disorders, using epidemiological methods in the general population, in populations at risk, and in clinical samples. The PhD student will also work in collaboration with the Departments of Epidemiology and Paediatrics. 

Qualifications and skills

  • MSc degree in Medicine, Biomedical Sciences, Psychology, Neurosciences or a related discipline;
  • Affinity with scientific questions around the impact of early-life stress on mental and physical health, as well as biological mechanisms;
  • Working well in a team and independently;
  • Relevant research experience and programming knowledge in R would be advantageous;
  • Excellent writing and presenting skills;
  • Proficiency in both Dutch and English is preferable.

Before you apply please check our conditions for employment.

Terms of employment

We offer a 1-year contract at first; a 2.5 year extension will be offered on proven ability. The gross monthly salary amounts a maximum of € 4.481,- (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 Janine Felix, Senior Researcher Generation R Study group, e-mail: For queries regarding your application, please contact Jerry Chandansingh, Recruiter, phone number: +31 (0)6 500 310 06. 

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.

No agencies please.

Erasmus MC

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Our roots lie in Rotterdam, a city and port of international standing. We are the most innovative university medical center in the Netherlands and one of the world’s leading centers of scientific research. With passion and dedication we are committed to achieve a healthy population and pursuing excellence in healthcare through research and teaching. We have access to the latest equipment and techniques. A working environment that gets the best out of people.

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