[Netherlands] PhD in Reconstruction of Metabolic Networks

Wageningen University and Research centre is looking for a PhD or Post-Doc candidate who will work on one of the Systems Biology projects on Reconstruction of metabolic networks.

We are interested in candidates with a background in the exact sciences (statistics, mathematics, physics, (theoretical) biology), who are eager to work on a project in the life sciences.
The duration of the project is three years for a Post-Doc and four years for a PhD.

This position is embedded in a project aiming at unraveling flavonoid networks in Tomato. Amongst other factors, these networks are, responsible for Tomato taste and as such highly relevant in breeding new Tomato species. In this project, experimentalists and modelers strongly cooperate. The present position is on the modeling side and focuses on reconstructing the metabolite networks from the data generated in this project. To that end existing methods could be applied, but also new methods have to be developed.

Network reconstruction is one of the central research themes in Systems Biology, since biological systems at nearly all levels of aggregation can be modeled in terms of networks. In the present project, the measured metabolite levels form the observable expressions of the network components. The purpose is to reconstruct both the topology of the underlying network and to estimate the interaction strengths between the components. To that end the candidate should develop and apply both statistical and mathematical techniques. The combination of these approaches is believed to lead to most powerful methods in network reconstruction.

From the statistical point of view, various approaches are possible, like multivariate multiple regressions under constraints and penalties form a first type of statistical models to study. Alternatively, graphical models and random fields could be used. An important item will be how to incorporate prior biological knowledge. For this purpose, Bayesian techniques will be needed to be studied.
From the mathematical point of view, the emphasis is on describing the dynamics of networks in terms of differential equations. The challenge is to find the structure of these equations from the measured time series in order to detect the topology of the network and the interaction strengths. Parameter estimation by fitting possible models to the data is an inherent part of the work.

We ask
We are especially interested in candidates who want to apply their skills in and knowledge of one of the exact sciences to a life science setting, and who are interested to combine mathematical and statistical approaches.

MSc or PhD in Mathematics, Statistics,,Physics, (Theoretical) Biology
Affinity to modeling
Enthusiastic and innovative researcher with good communication skills
Good expression in written and oral English
We offer
Additional conditions of employment:
We offer you a full-time position for a period of 12 months with the intention to extend it with 36 months for PhD’s and with 24 months for Post-Docs. For PhD the gross salary per month is € 2042,= in the first year rising to € 2612,= per month in the fourth year. For Post-Docs the maiximum gross salary per month is € 3755,= dependent on training and experience.
Hay-profile: Promovendus or Post-Doc
Maximum hours per week: 38

The organization: Biometris
Biometris ( is the research group of Wageningen University for mathematics and statistics. This department consists of about 65 mathematicians and statisticians, who are involved in Research for the Life Sciences, Consulting and Teaching. The group provides a very stimulating environment for PhD-students and Post-Docs. Biometris develops and applies quantitative models for the life sciences. Focal points are Quantitative Genetics, Systems Biology and Ecological Modeling. There is a long-standing and produc¬tive cooperation between Biometris staff members and applied scientists in a great variety of life science disciplines, inside and outside Wageningen University.

Additional information about the vacancy can be obtained from:
Prof.dr. F.A. van Eeuwijk
Telephone number: 0317-482902
E-mail address: and
Prof.dr. J. Molenaar
Telephone number: 0317-486042
E-mail address:

Application deadline: 3rd October 2010

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