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Postdoc Analysing Infectious Disease Data

Are you looking for a challenging research position and do you have an interest in infectious diseases? Are you specifically interested in the decline of death rates linked to infectious diseases and what has caused this decrease? Then this might be the postdoc position for you.

7 maanden geleden


Albinusdreef, Leiden, Zuid-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
36 uur
€ 4481 per maand


You will be part of a research team that investigates why death rates due to infectious diseases decreased sharply over the past centuries. In this multidisciplinary project you will work at the interface between infectious disease dynamics and data science. You will be responsible for the statistical analysis of a treasure trove of infectious disease data, collected by historical demographers. Specifically, you will (i) visualise the mortality data by cause of death, and visualise factors that are thought to have caused a decline in mortality rates; (ii) analyse the mortality data by quantifying the contribution of these factors to the observed time of death and age at death; (iii) develop the statistical tools for such an analysis by extending statistical models currently used in infectious disease analysis and in survival analysis; (iv) communicate the results by writing articles and publishing them in international scientific journals, by giving presentations at conferences, and by contributing to exhibitions for the general public. You will organize project meetings, and contribute research results to the project’s database.

In short

  • You hold a recent PhD in the exact sciences
  • You have experience with statistical analysis of data
  • You are an academic researcher in a highly productive team
  • You will be responsible for the statistical analysis of a treasure trove of infectious disease data
  • You will focus on why death rates due to infectious diseases decreased sharply over the past centuries


You are a highly motivated candidate who has recently obtained a PhD degree in mathematics, physics, biostatistics, bioinformatics, econometrics, data visualization or a similar discipline. You have an interest in infectious disease data analysis, and are not afraid to work with historical demographers. Also, you are committed to work as part of a dynamic, international, productive and multidisciplinary team. To this end, you possess solid communication skills in written and spoken English. You have strong analytical skills, can work with large datasets and have sound knowledge of a programming language such as R.


You will be employed on the basis of 36 hours per week. Appointment is for 3 years. Your salary is based on your education and experience and is a maximum of € 4,481 gross per month for a full time position (scale 10 in the Collective Labour Agreement for University Hospitals).

Additional information

The project

Our high standard of living is due to a large increase in life expectancy that was achieved in the last two centuries. This large increase in life expectance, in turn, resulted from the decline in infectious diseases as a cause of death. Various determinants have been proposed as drivers for this development, and there is an ongoing debate about the relative importance of each of those factors. We have a rich historical data set on all deaths occurring in the city of Amsterdam over the period 1854-1926, including cause of death, age, sex, marital status and address. The data thus encompass long and detailed time series for many different infectious diseases including smallpox, scarlet fever, measles, and diphtheria. We also have information on the timing of interventions lead to improvements of drinking water and hygiene, and on economic factors. The research project aims to identify the principal determinants driving this decline in infectious disease deaths. Three postdoctoral researchers will work on this project, each focussing on one of three arenas in which the effects of mortality determinants are played out: 1) the urban disease environment, 2) the life course and the family, and 3) the physical urban environment at the neighbourhood and street level. This position for postdoctoral researcher focuses on the first arena, and it will be based in the Department of Biomedical Data Sciences, Leiden University Medical Center. The two other postdoctoral researchers will focus on the other arenas and will be based in Radboud Group for Historical Demography. The research project is funded by NWO.

We expect a motivation letter, stating how your research interests compare with this project, your CV with contact information of two referees, and a relevant publication or preprint.

Contact: Prof. Jacco Wallinga, professor, Department of Biomedical Data Sciences

+3171 526 85 99