A 3-year postdoctoral position on Modeling Gene Disruptions in Human Neurons is available within the Language & Genetics Department at the Max Planck Institute, Nijmegen, the Netherlands. The department is led by Simon Fisher, co-discoverer ofFOXP2, the first gene to be implicated in a speech and language disorder. We adopt the latest innovations in molecular methods to discover how your genome helps you speak, identifying genes that are important for development of speech, language, reading and social communication, and using those genes as windows into the key neural pathways, as well as investigating evolutionary foundations. This involves interdisciplinary research at multiple levels, from determining molecular interactions and functional roles in neuronal cell models to assessing effects on brain structure and activity. We work together with leading researchers at the Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition and Behaviour and the Radboud University Medical Center in Nijmegen, and with extensive networks of expert collaborators around the world.
Through whole genome DNA sequencing, we have identified rare gene disruptions that cause speech and language impairments in human neurodevelopmental disorders. The successful candidate will lead specific projects within an ongoing research programme that investigates the neurobiological consequences of such gene disruptions (in FOXP1/2/4, CHD3, SETBP1 among other genes). This programme adopts the latest human cell-culture techniques (stem-cell derived 2D and 3D neuronal models), CRISPR/Cas-based gene editing, single-cell RNA sequencing, and other state-of-the-art methods. The work is carried out in a custom-built molecular biology laboratory at the Max Planck Institute, which has its own cell-culture facilities, an advanced microfluidics system for high-throughput single-cell analyses, and dedicated histology and microscopy suites, including a confocal microscope with live cell-imaging capabilities. These resources are complemented by bioinformatic experts within the department, excellent in-house infrastructure for data analysis supported by a central technical group, and close collaborative links with the Human Genetics department of Radboudumc, on the same campus.
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