PhD Candidates (f/m/x) Exposome and Brain Health

Code: 1297/2024/3

The German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) is a world-leading internationally oriented research center, committed to discovering new approaches to prevent and treat neurodegenerative diseases. To this end, researchers at ten DZNE sites across Germany pursue a translational and interdisciplinary strategy comprising five interconnected areas: fundamental research, clinical research, health care research, population health science, and systems medicine.

We are looking for enthusiastic and ambitious students who are keen to work on the relationship between environmental and lifestyle exposure and the body’s response to them as part of their PhD.

The job holder will be part of the Population Health Sciences group, led by Prof Dr Monique M B Breteler, and located at the headquarters of the German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE) in Bonn. We study causes and biomarkers of normal and pathological mental and physical health, with a special emphasis on neurodegenerative diseases and ageing. The research is primarily based on the Rhineland Study, a prospective cohort study that emphasizes deep phenotyping. The study currently includes more than 11.000 participants at baseline, follow-up data is already available from nearly 5000 participants, and further data collection is ongoing. Available clinical data include detailed structural and functional brain imaging, cognitive and neurological assessments, cardiovascular and anthropometric assessments, sensory systems tests, medical history, and medication use. In addition, we have extensive multi-omics data for large parts of the cohort. Importantly, we collect detailed exposome data, including information on physical activity, diet, environmental toxins, and temperature exposure.

Your tasks

You will investigate the impact of the exposome (diet, physical activity, climate change, but also environmental toxins, such as PFAS) on different health outcomes with a specific focus on neurodegeneration. Responsibilities include: participation in and supervision of data acquisition and processing; data analysis and preparation of manuscripts for publication in peer-reviewed journals; active participation in national and international conferences.


  • Excellent master degree in epidemiology, biomedical sciences, nutrition, or related disciplines
  • Demonstrable interest in quantitative research and strong analytical skills
  • First experience with epidemiological research or large-scale clinical studies is a plus
  • First programming experience (preferably in R)
  • Excellent analytical and problem-solving skills
  • Proficiency in spoken and written English is required
  • Enjoy working as part of an interdisciplinary and international team

We offer

  • An interesting and challenging position on the forefront of health research
  • Work in a highly interdisciplinary and international team to address pressing health issues related to aging
  • Excellent scientific infrastructure with state-of-the-art research and computational facilities
  • Active encouragement and support of our employees’ individual development
  • Employment, payment, and social benefits in line with the Public Sector Collective Agreement (Tarifvertrag für den öffentlichen Dienst)

The PhD position will be integrated into the Bonn International Graduate School of Clinical and Population Science and further training in epidemiological, statistical and computational methods will be provided as needed. The position is initially limited to three years with the possibility of extension.

How to apply

Interested applicants should submit, as one single PDF file, a CV, transcripts, three references, and a cover letter describing your research interest and experience, through the link below.

Review of applications will begin immediately and continue until the position is filled.

Contract length: 3 years, extension possible
Application deadline: 30.04.2024

You will obtain special skills and knowledge for your scientific qualification during your activities at DZNE. The DZNE is an equal opportunity employer. It is committed to employing disabled individuals and especially encourages them to apply.



Prof. Dr. Dr. Monique Breteler 

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