1. Vacatures
  2. Technische Universiteit Delft (TUD)
  3. PhD Position Algorithms for Microbial Genomics

PhD Position Algorithms for Microbial Genomics

Do you want to contribute to surveillance of infectious pathogens using computer science and mathematics? Join the Delft Bioinformatics Lab and work on graph-based algorithms for microbial genomics!

ongeveer 2 maanden geleden


Mekelweg, Delft, Zuid-Holland
Tijdelijk contract / Tijdelijke opdracht
Uren per week:
38 - 40 uur
€ 2434 - € 3111 per maand


Bacterial and viral infections pose one of the biggest threats to human health. Genomic mutations (i.e. changes to the genome sequence) can affect characteristics of the pathogen, such as virulence, drug response and vaccine escape. To monitor these mutations and to understand their impact, it is crucial to analyse genomic big data efficiently and accurately.

Genomes are studied through genome sequencing, but these technologies can only read DNA fragments of limited length. We enable biological interpretation of these sequencing data sets by developing algorithms based on graph theory, discrete optimization and machine learning. In this PhD position you will focus on strain-aware genome assembly, variant calling and strain abundance quantification for viruses, bacteria and yeasts. For example, we would like to be able to track how the prevalences of different strains in a mixed sample change over time.

**Your role:**

You will develop and implement algorithms to find, quantify and track mutations in evolving populations of viruses, bacteria and/or yeasts. Some challenges that you will be facing are:

  • How to distinguish genomic mutations from sequencing errors using the latest sequencing technologies?
  • How to distinguish mutations in a given gene from mutations in homologous genes?
  • How to deal with large-scale structural variation?
  • How to link mutations together into genomes across distances longer than the read length?

You will address these challenges by formulating appropriate graph optimization problems (e.g. minimal edge covering, minimal path covering, shortest paths, clustering) and solve these problems using techniques such as linear/integer programming or by designing suitable heuristics.

The algorithms that you develop can play an important role in pathogen surveillance, infection treatment design, and/or understanding evolution. Depending on your expertise and interests, your projects can be more applied (in collaboration with experimental groups) or more theoretical. More information about ongoing research, publications and media can be found here.

You will be part of the Delft Bioinformatics Lab in the Intelligent Systems department at TU Delft. In this project we also work together with experimental groups at TU Delft (e.g. Robert Mans, Biotechnology) as well as internationally (the Baym lab at Harvard Medical School). The Delft Bioinformatics Lab has strong algorithmic and machine learning expertise, with a profound interest in new biomolecular technologies. We teach bioinformatics courses across several programs within TUDelft and nationally, in which you may also assist.

We value different perspectives and we strongly believe that diversity drives innovation. We offer an open and safe working environment for employees and students regardless of their nationality, cultural background, gender or sexual orientation. Anyone who meets the application criteria and whose curiosity was triggered by the description above is strongly encouraged to apply.


To be considered for the position you must:

  • have a master’s degree (or equivalent) in Computer Science, Bioinformatics, Mathematics or a closely related field.
  • have strong computational skills in algorithm design and data analysis.
  • have a strong interest in bioinformatics. Prior experience in this field is beneficial but not strictly necessary.
  • have experience with programming and/or software engineering. Strong programming skills are a definite plus.
  • have good communication skills in English (both verbal and written).
  • be eager to push yourself to learn new skills, exchange knowledge and collaborate where possible.
  • be willing to teach and guide students.     


TU Delft offers PhD-candidates a 4-year contract, with an official go/no go progress assessment after one year. Salary and benefits are in accordance with the Collective Labour Agreement for Dutch Universities, increasing from € 2434 per month in the first year to € 3111 in the fourth year. As a PhD candidate you will be enrolled in the TU Delft Graduate School. The TU Delft Graduate School provides an inspiring research environment with an excellent team of supervisors, academic staff and a mentor. The Doctoral Education Programme is aimed at developing your transferable, discipline-related and research skills.

The TU Delft offers a customisable compensation package, discounts on health insurance and sport memberships, and a monthly work costs contribution. Flexible work schedules can be arranged. For international applicants we offer the Coming to Delft Service and Partner Career Advice to assist you with your relocation.

Additional information

The application procedure is ongoing until the position is filled, so interested candidates are encouraged to apply as soon as possible and before December 1st, 2021. Note that candidates who apply after the deadline may still be considered but applications before the deadline will be given priority. For more information about this vacancy, please contact Dr. Jasmijn Baaijens at j.a.baaijens@tudelft.nl        


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