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PhD 2x - Comorbidities of serious mental illness

As part of an ERC funded project, we are looking for two enthusiastic and ambitious PhD students to conduct cutting edge research and help answer important health questions!
PhD 2x - Comorbidities of serious mental illness
Solliciteer direct
  • Aantal uur: 32 36 uur per week
  • Werklocatie: Locatie AMC
  • Contractvorm: bepaalde tijd
  • Salaris: € 2.789 - € 3.536
  • Reageer tot en met: 5 februari 2023
Solliciteer direct Reageer binnen 6 dag(en)
Wat ga je onderzoeken?

About the project

Serious mental illness – depression, bipolar, and psychotic disorder – is among the leading causes of disability worldwide. On top of the burden posed by its symptoms, mental illness is also associated with comorbid health problems. The two most important ‘comorbidities’ of mental illness, given their driving role in decreasing quality and duration of life, are substance (mis)use and cardiovascular disease. Whether these comorbidities arise due to causal relationships is surprisingly unclear. The causal direction is also uncertain: does mental illness lead to comorbidities, and / or do these comorbidities increase the risk of (more severe) mental illness? In this ERC funded project, innovative epidemiological and genetic approaches will be combined to unravel the relationships of mental illness with substance (mis)use and cardiovascular disease.

The research methods include epidemiological analyses of large longitudinal cohort studies and advanced genetic methods that use summary-level data of genome-wide association studies (GWAS). The project has an important focus on ‘triangulation’ of evidence – combining insights from across different methods and data samples to come to robust evidence. Another important focal point is diversity – while women (compared to men) and people of non-European ethnicity (compared to those of European ethnicity) are affected by a greater disease burden, gender and ethnic differences are understudied. This project attempts to fill this gap by including diverse (genetic) samples.

Vragen over deze functie?
Tanja Hart Tanja Hart +31621603178 Recruitment adviseur
Wat ga je doen?

About the role

The two PhD students will start at the same time and will work closely together. Both PhD students will be conducting epidemiological and genetic analyses using existing databases and biobanks (the project does not include new data collection), mostly using software platform R. You will be involved in planning the exact analyses of each study, analyzing the data, and writing up the manuscripts. An important part of each of the PhD projects will be to carefully compare outcomes from the different applied methodologies (‘triangulation’) to come to strong evidence about the causal nature of the relationship between mental illness and its comorbidities.

We will offer ample opportunity for you to deepen and broaden your knowledge through specialized courses offered by our group or collaborators. We will also offer extensive support and training to master the innovative analysis techniques involved in the project (such as structural equation modelling and Mendelian randomization).

PhD student 1 will focus on unravelling the comorbidity between mental illness and substance use (cigarette smoking, cannabis use, alcohol). A secondary focus of this PhD student will be to translate the resulting knowledge to recommendations to inform prevention policy and health communication.

PhD student 2 will focus on unravelling the comorbidity between mental illness and cardiovascular disease. A secondary focus of this PhD student will be to translate the resulting knowledge to recommendations to inform clinical practice (in psychiatry and cardiology).

Wat neem je mee?


  • A MSc degree in the field of epidemiology, (biomedical) health sciences, neurosciences, bioinformatics, or a related and relevant discipline (candidates close to graduating are also encouraged to apply!)
  • Strong interest in the project’s topic
  • Affinity with statistics and advanced data analytics
  • Prior experience in data analysis using R is desirable (support will be available)
  • Excellent English conversation and writing skills
  • Strong communication and social skills
Wat bieden we jou?

Our offer

  • A jump start to your career in research!
  • The opportunity to work on large-scale international data-sets and receive training in the most cutting edge epidemiological and (population) genetic methods
  • The position is for 4 years. We first offer a fixed term contract for 1 year, which under normal circumstances will be prolonged with 3 years.
  • In addition to a good basic salary, we offer 8.3% end-of-year bonus and 8% holiday allowance. 
  • Pension is accrued at Be Frank. 
  • In addition to excellent accessibility by public transport, AMR also has a sufficient number of parking spaces for employees.
  • An active personnel association and the Young Amsterdam UMC association, both of which organize fun (sports) activities and events.

For an overview of all our other terms of employment, Read all working agreements at Amsterdam UMC 

Waar ga je werken?

About the workplace

You will become part of the Genetic Epidemiology research group which is embedded in the department of psychiatry. Our group consist of one Professor (Karin Verweij), four Assistant Professors, three post-doctoral researchers, and four PhD students. We conduct genetic research on a wide range of complex traits, including mental illness, substance use, brain structure and function, socio-economic outcomes, cardiovascular disease, and musicality. Within our group we have a very open and accessible culture and we encourage everyone to bring in their own ideas. We are also well connected with the larger genetics community, for instance through our organizing role in the Genetics Network Amsterdam (GENE Amsterdam; https://geneticsnetworkamsterdam.org/).

In this PhD position you will work on a larger project (UNRAVEL-CAUSALITY) which is funded by an ERC Starting grant and led by dr. Jorien Treur. The aim of the ERC project is to advance our understanding of the complex relation of mental illness with other health problems and thereby set the stage for more effective prevention and treatment.

De cultuur is open en de samenwerking over het algemeen laagdrempelig. Bovendien streven we naar gelijke kansen voor iedereen. Dat betekent dat er ruimte is voor een ieders cultuur, afkomst, ideeën en creativiteit. Bekijk onze aanpak omtrent diversiteit en inclusie.
Wat kun je verwachten?
Een baan in onze prachtige hoofdstad
Werken bij dé favoriete werkgever in de zorg (intermediair 2021)
Alle collega's hebben hetzelfde doel: bijdragen aan de zorg voor morgen
Er is ruimte voor ontplooiing, verdieping en verbreding van je kennis
Een actieve personeelsvereniging die leuke activiteiten organiseert en korting op producten en diensten voor jou regelt
Amsterdam UMC innoveert continu, dat vraagt om een flexibele instelling van iedereen
Twee grote locaties, goed voor je stappenteller!
Je hebt meer dan 15000 collega’s die je niet allemaal persoonlijk zult leren kennen
Het verhaal van Amsterdam UMC Bekijk de video’s en leer meer over onze organisatie
Amsterdam UMC
Verpleegkundige visie
Laten we kennis maken

Let's meet

During the publication period, applications will be handled continuously. If the vacancy is filled, it will be closed prematurely.

If you have any questions about this position, please feel free to contact dr. Jorien Treur at j.l.treur@amsterdamumc.nl 

For more information about the application procedure, please contact Tanja Hart, Recruitment Advisor, via t.hart@amsterdamumc.nl or via 06-21603178.

A reference check, screening and hiring test may be part of the procedure. Read here whether that applies to you. If you join us, we ask you for a VOG (Certificate of Good Conduct).

Internal candidates will be given priority over external candidates in case of equal suitability.

Acquisition in response to this vacancy is not appreciated.