The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) is a unique non-university research center which is dedicated to the subject dementia and all its areas, as well as other neurodegenerative diseases. The center compasses the full spectrum of fundamental research through population sciences to health care research. The DZNE stands for excellence in research and science management, translation of scientific results into practice, interdisciplinarity and internationalization. It is a research center within the Helmholtz Organization of German research centers. With over 1000 employees from 55 nations, spread over 10 sites, the DZNE is one of the national and international leading research centers in its research field. 

PhD Student (f/m/d) Genetic Epidemiology for the area of “Genetic basis of brain structure and function”

Code: 1591/2018/8

Population Health Sciences at the DZNE aims to study determinants of normal and pathological mental and physical function over the adult life course, with a special emphasis on neurodegenerative diseases. To this end we have established the Rhineland Study, a prospective population based cohort study that will include up to 30,000 people aged 30 years and over and is designed to run for decades. Study facilities currently encompass two examination centres equipped with state-of-the art apparatuses including automatic gait and movement analysis, 3T MRI scanners, advanced bio-banking facilities and large data storage and computational resources. 

An important research topic within the Rhineland Study is the identification of genetic determinants of brain structure and function across adult life span and the interaction with dietary patterns.

Your tasks

The main aim of this PhD project is to elucidate the role of genetic variation and dietary patterns in brain structure and function across life span. To this end, various dietary assessments in participants from the Rhineland Study will be obtained and linked to biochemical, clinical and imaging outcomes, including genetic variation, methylation and gene expression profiles, brain structure and cognition.

The scientific work will include the development and implementation of genetic analysis pipelines, data analysis, oral presentation of the results as well as preparation of manuscripts for publication in international scientific journals


We are looking for a highly talented, motivated, enthusiastic and ambitious researcher with good social skills. 
Successful candidates hold a degree in computational biology, molecular biology, biomedical sciences or related discipline and have experience in any of the following areas:  large-scale genetic data analysis, bioinformatics, or programming. Demonstrable interest in quantitative research, strong analytical skills, ability for independent and critical thinking, and excellent communication and writing skills in the English language are a prerequisite.

We offer:

  • Interesting and challenging work in a research centre that works on the forefront of health research
  • Working in a team to help direct the efforts of the Rhineland Study to address pressing health issues related to aging
  • The position is initially limited to three years with the possibility of extension
  • Job location is Bonn, Germany. Common languages at work are English and German.
  • Employment, payment and social benefits are consistent with those at other research institutes

Successful candidates will be supervised jointly by Prof. Monique M.B. Breteler (DZNE) and Dr. Loes Rutten-Jacobs (DZNE). Support and mentoring will be available at every step along the way. The PhD position will be integrated into the Bonn International Graduate School Clinical and Population Science ( with regular seminars as well as supportive mentoring and other research infrastructure. Training in general scientific methods as well as more specialized methods employed by the research unit will be provided. Active participation in local, national and international conferences is expected. Successful candidates will be awarded a PhD or MD/PhD depending on prior qualifications. 




Contact details

Dr. Antonio Schmandke

Working hours


Contract length

3 years

Payment, social benefits

consistent with those at other research institutes

Application deadline


You will obtain special skills and knowledge for your scientific qualification at DZNE. The DZNE is an equal opportunity employer. It is committed to employing disabled individuals and especially encourages them to apply.