PhD fellowship concerning methylation of regulatory DNA in sudden cardiac death


Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences
University of Copenhagen

The Department of Forensic Medicine is offering a three-year PhD fellowship with a three-month temporary position as research assistant. The temporary position relates to the preparation of a PhD-application, and the PhD fellowship is conditioned on enrolment as PhD-student and satisfying performance during the temporary position. The PhD Fellow ship is within the field of methylation of regulatory DNA in sudden cardiac death and is available from June 1st, 2020 or as soon as possible hereafter.

Our group and research
The Department of Forensic Medicine performs forensic pathology, anthropology, odontology, chemistry, and genetic investigations. One of the research areas is Sudden Cardiac Death. The Section of Forensic Genetics performs research concerning molecular biology investigations, including investigation of DNA, methylation of DNA, and RNA. The research group of the Section of Forensic Genetics has an academic staff of five academics in fixed positions, nine academics in PhD and postdoc positions, and a number of bachelor and master students. The research areas include studies of new forensic genetic methods, population genetics, genetics of sudden cardiac death, severe psychiatric diseases, melanoma, atopic dermatitis, and pigmentation. The studies include investigations of epigenetic factors by means of the degree of methylation of DNA with various methods.

Project description
Sudden cardiac death (SCD) is responsible for a large proportion of non-traumatic, sudden and unexpected death in young individuals. SCD it often is the first symptom of an otherwise healthy individual, where an autopsy might or might not determine the cause of death depending of the morphological structural changes of the heart. However, the genetic background of SCD is unquestioned. Genetic testing is a valuable tool in the diagnosis of SCD, but there is still a need for improved understanding of the genetics and molecular mechanisms of SCD.

The SCD cases are selected after deep, state-of-the-art phenotyping at the institute. The phenotypic investigations of the deceased individuals will be performed by experts in forensic pathology and cardiology.

The aim of the current project is to increase the understanding of SCD by identifying patterns of the degree of methylation of DNA and its association with genetic variation and the expression of RNA. The investigations of methylation of DNA will be carried out with the use of primarily massively parallel sequencing (MPS) and beadchip arrays. The results of DNA methylation will be compared to those of whole genome DNA sequencing and RNA investigations as well as clinical phenotypes and other relevant information. The technical part of the project will be performed at the Section of Forensic Genetics, Department of Forensic Medicine.

Principal supervisor
Professor Niels Morling, Section of Forensic Genetics,
Department of Forensic Medicine

Professor Jacob Tfelt Hansen & Professor Jytte Banner, Section of Forensic Pathology, Department of Forensic Medicine.

Assistant Professor Jeppe Dyrberg Andersen, Section of Forensic Genetics, Department of Forensic Medicine.

Start:                 June 1st, 2020.

Duration:          3 months as research assistant for enrolment + 3 years as a PhD student.

Job description
The key tasks as a PhD student at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences are:

  • Carry through an independent research project under supervision 
  • Complete PhD courses or other equivalent education corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS points
  • Participate in active research environments including a stay at another research team
  • Obtain experience with teaching or other types of dissemination related to your PhD project
  • Teach and disseminate your knowledge
  • Write a PhD thesis on the grounds of your project
    Key criteria for the assessment of applicants
    Applicants must have qualifications corresponding to a master’s degree related to the subject area of the project e.g. master´s degree in genetics, biology, medicine, or a related field.

    Other important criteria are:
  • The grade point average achieved
  • Professional qualifications relevant to the PhD project
  • Previous publications
  • Relevant work experience
  • Other professional activities
  • Curious mind-set with a strong interest in the genetics of heart diseases
  • Language skills
    Place of employment
    The place of employment is at the Department of Forensic Medicine, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. We offer creative and stimulating working conditions in a dynamic and international research environment. Our research facilities include modern laboratories and competent research staff.
    Terms of employment
    The employment as research assistant for enrolment is full time and for 3 months; the employment as
    PhD fellow is full time and for 3 years; it is conditioned upon the applicant’s success­ful enrolment as a PhD student at the Graduate School at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, University of Copenhagen. This requires submission and acceptance of an application for the specific project formulated by the applicant during the initial three-month employment as a research assistant. 

The PhD study must be completed in accordance with The Ministerial Order on the PhD programme (2013) and the Faculty’s rules on achieving the degree. Salary, pension and terms of employment are in accordance with the agree­ment between the Ministry of Finance and The Danish Confederation of Professional Associations on Academics in the State. Depending on seniority, the monthly salary begins around 27.400 DKK /approx. 3.663 EUR (October 2019-level) plus pension.

For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact the principal supervisor.

General information about PhD study at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences is available at the Graduate School’s website:

Application procedure
Th application must be submitted electronically by clicking ‘Apply now’ below. The application must include the following documents in PDF format: 

  • Motivated letter of application (max. one page)
  • CV incl. education, experience, language skills, and other skills relevant for the position
  • Master of Science diploma and transcript of records. If not completed, a certified/signed copy of a recent transcript of records or a written statement from the institution or supervisor will do
  • Publication list (if possible)

Application deadline:  March 15th, 2020, 23.59 pm CET

We reserve the right not to consider material received after the deadline, and not to consider applications that do not live up to the abovementioned requirements.

The further process
After the expiry of the deadline for applications, the authorized recruitment manager selects applicants for assessment on the advice of the hiring committee. All applicants are then immediately notified whether their application has been passed for assessment by an unbiased assessor.

The assessor makes a non-prioritized assessment of the academic qualifications and experience with respect to the above-mentioned area of research, techniques, skills and other requirements listed in the advertisement.

Once the assessment work has been completed each applicant has the opportunity to comment on the part of the assessment that relates to the applicant him/herself.

You can read about the recruitment process at

The applicant will be assessed according to the Ministerial Order no. 242 of 13 March 2012 on the Appointment of Academic Staff at Universities.

The Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences comprises approximately 7,500 students, 1,500 PhD students, and 3,200 employees. The Faculty advances the field of health sciences through its core activities: research, teaching, knowledge sharing and communication. With basic research fields ranging from molecular studies to studies of society, the Faculty contributes to a healthy future through its graduates, research findings and inventions benefitting patients and the community. The University of Copenhagen wishes to reflect the surrounding community and invites all regardless of personal background to apply for the position. 


Part of the International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU), and among Europe’s top-ranking universities, the University of Copenhagen promotes research and teaching of the highest international standard. Rich in tradition and modern in outlook, the University gives students and staff the opportunity to cultivate their talent in an ambitious and informal environment. An effective organisation – with good working conditions and a collaborative work culture – creates the ideal framework for a successful academic career.


Niels Morling


Application deadline: 15-03-2020
Employment start: Start as soon as possible
Department/Location: Department of Forensic Medicine

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