PhD – Leibniz IZW, Berlin -Deadline 15/11

The Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz IZW) in Berlin is Germany’s premier wildlife research institute. The Leibniz IZW focuses on the life histories and mechanisms of evolutionary adaptations of mammals and birds, their limits and their conservation in natural and anthropogenically influenced environments. The institute operates within the fields of evolutionary ecology, evolutionary genetics, wildlife diseases, reproduction biology and reproduction management. For an interdisciplinary externally funded project on

Epigenetic stability and plasticity of social environmental effects

the Leibniz IZW offers

1 PhD-position (50%) in Bioinformatics, Metagenomics and Computational Biology.

The health consequences to hosts of the microbiome, i.e. intestinal bacteria, and of the eukaryotic biome, i.e. the intestinal community of fungi and other protozoans plus unicellular and multicellular eukaryotes, are receiving increasing attention. Intestinal biomes can have both beneficial and pathogenic effects. The aim of this PhD project is to determine how social status, and most intriguing, changes in social status, influence the composition, diversity and gene content of intestinal biomes in a highly social carnivore, the spotted hyena (Crocuta crocuta). In spotted hyenas as in other socially structured mammalian societies, social status determines access to food resources and thus profoundly affects key physiological processes, including investment in immunity, and Darwinian fitness. It is currently unknown whether social mobility over-rides life history trajectories set by the previous social environment.

Already collected faecal samples will be used to assess the composition and diversity of intestinal biomes in terms of mutualists, commensals and parasites under the supervision of Prof. Heitlinger. To identify differences in the gene content of the intestinal biome, a metagenomic approach will be used under the supervision of Prof. Soen. Status-specific differences in bacterial genes will then be related to status-specific differences in metabolism, host gene expression and immunity, which will be investigated in other project sections.

The position involves collaborative research between Prof. Emanuel Heitlinger, who holds a joint junior professorship position at Humboldt University Berlin/Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (IZW) and Prof. Yoav Soen, who is the head of the Department of Biomolecular Sciences at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel. Longer, regular visits to the Weizmann Institute are required.


? Completed MSc in bioinformatics, computational biology, or biology;

? Programming skills (e.g. Python, R) and proficiency working in a Unix/Linux command line environment;

? Background in statistical data analysis and good understanding of underlying mathematical principles;

? Experience in analyses of large scale sequencing datasets are beneficial, ideally for gut microbiome analyses, transcriptomics or similar;

? Experience working in a molecular biology laboratory is required, ideally experience in metagenomics;

? Experience with databases for computational biology;

? Reliability, high motivation and efficiency; ability to work independently and as part of a team;

? Strong organisational and communication skills; willingness to engage in collaboration for successful and timely implementation of the project and publication of results;

? Proficiency in English.

We offer state-of-the-art methodology and a stimulating research environment in an interdisciplinary, collaborative project. The position will start January 1st, 2018 and is limited to three years. Salary is 50 % according to TVöD (Bund). The place of employment is the Leibniz Institute for Zoo and Wildlife Research (Leibniz IZW), Alfred-Kowalke-Str. 17, 10315 Berlin (Germany).

As a member of the Leibniz Association the Leibniz IZW is an equal opportunity employer, determined to increase the proportion of women in successful scientific careers, and particularly encourages women to apply. Preference will be given to disabled applicants with the same qualifications. Enquiries or further questions should be directed to Prof. Emanuel Heitlinger ( and Prof. Yoav Soen (

Applicants should upload a letter explaining their interests in and particular skills for this position, a CV, copies of relevant degrees, list of publications and names and contact details of two referees preferably before 15th of November 2017 (with interviews scheduled to be at the Leibniz IZW on the 5th December 2017 from 9 am onwards) via IZW’s online-job- application facility button Apply online”.

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