Three Open Group Leader and Professor Positions: AI in Biology

Updated: 3 months ago
Job Type: FullTime
Deadline: 29 Feb 2024

31 Jan 2024
Job Information

Research Field

Computer science
Researcher Profile

Recognised Researcher (R2)

Application Deadline

29 Feb 2024 - 00:00 (UTC)
Type of Contract

To be defined
Job Status

Hours Per Week

To be defined
Is the job funded through the EU Research Framework Programme?

Not funded by an EU programme
Is the Job related to staff position within a Research Infrastructure?


Offer Description

The VIB Center for AI & Computational Biology (VIB.AI) and KU Leuven are searching for three Principal Investigators to join their faculty (Group Leader at VIB, Professor at KU Leuven). We are particularly interested in recruiting faculty members who use and develop artificial intelligence methods and mechanistic mathematical models to address fundamental questions in biology.

We welcome applications across all domains of machine learning, artificial intelligence, and associated fields. Examples of research topics include but are not limited to: development of new AI architectures for biology and hybrid models that combine deep learning with mechanistic models; foundation models of genome regulation using single-cell and spatial multi-omics data; AI-based modeling of protein structure and protein interaction networks; AI-based modeling of cell morphology and tissue function using imaging and computer vision; AI models of disease and digital twin applications. Biological applications are broad: microorganisms, plant biology, biodiversity and ecology, neuroscience, cancer, and immunology. We also welcome applicants with applied projects, including synthetic biology, AI-driven experiments (experiment-in-the-loop), and bio-engineering.

This position comes with full salary and core funding (internationally competitive package) that is renewable for multiple additional 5-year periods, and access to state-of-the-art research and top-notch support core facilities, as well as support to attract talented PhD students and postdocs from across the world.

Research. As a VIB Group Leader and KU Leuven Professor, you will be expected to (continue to) build your research program with your own independent research group, and to set up or consolidate a strong network with other researchers within VIB, KU Leuven and beyond. You strive for excellence in your research and thereby contribute to the scientific development of the new VIB.AI center.

Teaching. The candidate will be appointed at the Faculty of Medicine or the Faculty of Engineering Science, and will take up teaching assignments (in English or in Dutch) in either of these faculties. You ensure high-quality education, with a clear commitment to the quality of the program as a whole. You also contribute to the pedagogic project of the university through the supervision of MSc theses and as a promoter of PhD students.

Service. You provide scientific, societal and internal services that contribute to the reputation of the entire VIB and university.
Your profile

  • PhD or equivalent experience in machine learning or a related quantitative field (Computer Science, Artificial Intelligence, Statistics, Mathematics, Physics, Computational Biology/Chemistry).
  • Candidates will be considered at junior or more senior levels assuming relevant experience in foundational machine learning research and/or applied machine learning in an academic and/or industrial setting (post-doctoral).
  • Excellent machine learning and programming experience.
  • Published impactful research, demonstrates creativity, originality and addresses relevant problems in biology & computational research.
  • Demonstrated ability to acquire competitive funding.
  • Interdisciplinary mindset and keen on collaborating broadly in the center, the department and the university.
  • Motivated to guide postdoctoral researchers, PhD interns, and full-time scientists.
  • International working experience.
  • You have a thorough knowledge of spoken and written English.
  • The official administrative language used at KU Leuven is Dutch. If you do not speak Dutch (or do not speak it well) at the start of employment, KU Leuven will provide language training to enable you to take part in meetings. Before teaching courses in Dutch or English, you will be given the opportunity to learn Dutch resp. English to the required standard.

We offer

  • Substantial core research funding that is renewable every 5 years.
  • An attractive employment package including 100% of your salary and excellent health benefits.
  • Access to a vibrant academic environment that encourages collaboration with top experts in biology, computational biology, engineering and computer science both at VIB and KUL.
  • Access to a highly talented pool of students in biology, computational biology, engineering and computer science from the KUL bachelor and master programs.
  • New open-design state-of-the-art research space.
  • Access to computing cluster infrastructure at the VIB Data Core and Flemish Supercomputer Center.
  • Access to excellent and staffed core facilities at the Center, at VIB, and at KU Leuven (including sequencing, proteomics, single-cell, microscopy, data core, and many more).
  • Possibility to also perform wet lab activities in state-of-the-art infrastructure.
  • Broad administrative support, including help recruiting technicians, PhD students and post-doc scientists for your group.
  • Access to dedicated business development team specialized in technology transfer and valorization.
  • Professional leadership training.
  • An internationally recognized workplace that values diversity, promotes an inclusive environment.
  • Help with relocation and establishing a life in Belgium, including visa application (if necessary), and finding housing, schooling and daycare.
  • The successful candidate should also be selected for Professor at KU Leuven.

About the VIB Center for AI and Computational Biology

VIB (Flanders Institute for Biotechnology) is an entrepreneurial non-profit research institute, with a clear focus on ground-breaking strategic basic research in life sciences and operates in close partnership with the five universities in Flanders. VIB strives for a respectful and supportive working environment and a culture of belonging for diverse talents in the organization.

VIB.AI was established in 2023 as the 10th VIB center, with the core mission to study fundamental problems in biology by combining machine learning with in-depth knowledge of biological processes. We aim to work towards foundation models and integrative theories of biological systems, and towards innovative AI-driven biotech applications in synthetic biology, agro-tech, and personalized medicine. AI-driven research at VIB.AI starts from biological questions and challenges that are addressed using state-of-the-art and novel computational and AI strategies, through close interactions and iterations with biological experiments and research labs within VIB.AI and across VIB. Additionally, we are committed to fostering computational and AI research excellence across all VIB Centers, amplifying collaboration (12 co-associated GLs) and pushing the boundaries of innovation in all of VIB's research domains (plant biology, cancer biology, structural biology, medical biotechnology, neuroscience, immunology and microbiology).

KU Leuven

This position is linked to a professor position at KU Leuven. Based on the profile and research topic, this position is linked to a KU Leuven Department, namely DME, DCMM or ESAT/CS, with one position available per Department(s).

Department of Human Genetics (DME)

The DME Department of Human Genetics is a leading European center for Human Genetics. Its primary objectives revolve around achieving excellence in research, education, and translational applications. These efforts aim to enhance genetic diagnosis, counselling, therapy, and preventive measures. The department's research portfolio encompasses both fundamental and clinical research conducted across various domains, including cultured cells, animal models, and human subjects. The research focus of DME is genome structure, function, and development using state of the art genomics and bioinformatics methodologies and deploying them for the diagnosis and treatment of genetic disorders.

Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine (DCMM)

The research focus of DCMM is the exploration of molecular mechanisms of disease: basic cellular and molecular processes and their (path)physiological effects, and their implications in various human diseases. DCMM combines expertise in techniques of biochemistry, electrophysiology, molecular biology, cell imaging, proteomics, bio-informatics and animal-model development to acquire novel insights into cellular signalling and communication processes. Major areas of research include signalling by ions, lipids and protein phosphorylation, chromatin structure and function, protein structure, (mis)folding and transport and cell metabolism, death, autophagy and differentiation.

Department of Electrical Engineering (ESAT)

ESAT works on several technological innovations in the fields of energy, integrated circuits, information processing, image & speech processing, and telecommunication systems. ESAT has seven distinct groups: Computer Security and Industrial Cryptography (COSIC), Electrical Energy Systems and Applications (ELECTRA), Electronic Circuits and Systems (MICAS), Micro- and Nanosystems (MNS), Processing Speech and Images and Center for Dynamical Systems (PSI), Signal Processing and Data Analytics (STADIUS) and Waves: Core Research and Engineering (WAVECORE).

Department of Computer Science (CS)

The Department of Computer Science is globally recognized for its exceptional research and academic programs in fields such as informatics, computer science, artificial intelligence, mathematical engineering, digital humanities, and teacher education. The CS department is comprised of five distinct units: Distributed and Secure Software (DistriNet), Declarative Languages and Artificial Intelligence (DTAI), Human-Computer Interaction (HCI), Numerical Analysis and Applied Mathematics (NUMA) and Computer Science.

The Leuven Life Sciences eco-system and city of Leuven

Leuven and the surrounding area of Northern Belgium (Flanders) represent one of the top research destinations in Europe. VIB.AI is part of the VIB Life Sciences Institute (with colleagues in cancer, biotechnology, immunology, plants, microbiology amongst others) and an extensive set of core facilities. KUL is the largest university in Belgium and Europe's most innovative university and is home to the Leuven AI Institute and the Leuven University Hospital, one of the largest in Europe. Leuven is also home to Imec, a world-renowned research center for nanoelectronics and digital technology.

Leuven is an attractive European university city with a rich history and a lively atmosphere. The area has a strong biotechnology sector with a wide variety of spin-offs and start-ups. This, together with the presence of the University of Leuven and the University Hospital, make Leuven particularly internationally-oriented and tech-minded, and a natural home for researchers and their families; the city was even awarded the title of European capital of innovation 2020 by the European Commission. English is very widely spoken in the city and surrounding area.

Leuven offers an affordable, high standard of living, has an international school, and ample daycare options. The public education system and public health care system in Flanders are world-class, easily accessible, and low-cost to end users. Public transport is excellent and widely available. Brussels, the capital of Europe, is only 20 mins away. Leuven is also only 14 minutes by train from Brussels Airport which has many daily direct flights to North America, Africa and Asia. There are also high-speed direct international rail connections to numerous cities including Paris, London, Frankfurt and Amsterdam.

Start date: 2024
How to apply?

Please use the VIB HR application tool and upload

  • a cover/motivation letter
  • your full CV with publication list
  • a 2-page biosketch including your top 5 publications or achievements
  • contact details of 3 referees
  • a 2-4 page statement of your research plan including a brief statement reflecting your vision for the new VIB.AI center

Application deadline: 31st January 2024

For more information

Contact Stein Aerts ([email protected]) director VIB.AI

Additional Information
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