PhD Fellowship in Population and Forensic Genetic Applications

University of Copenhagen Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences


PhD Fellowship in Population and Forensic Genetic Applications

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 fellowship is within the field of population and forensic genetics and is available from September 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. The Section of Forensic Genetics performs research concerning molecular biology investigations, including investigation of DNA, methylated DNA, and RNA. The research group of the Section of Forensic Genetics has an academic staff of four academics in fixed positions, academics in PhD positions, and a number of bachelor and master students. The research areas include investigation of new forensic genetic markers and methods, population genetics, genetics of sudden cardiac death, psychiatric diseases, age determination with molecular markers, and pigmentation.

Project description

The PhD project will focus on the investigation of ancestry patterns in South America.

Unlike what has been observed in other geographical regions, the correlation between genetic diversity, migration paths, and geography in South America is not clear. The genetic ancestry of South America is quite complex, reflecting multiple migration and admixture events in pre- and post-colonial times. These events involved Native American, European, and African populations, in several magnitudes. It is well known that these processes were sex-biased. The paternal ancestry is mainly European, in contrast to the maternal ancestry, which is mainly Native American and African. Therefore, it is necessary to study different types of markers to obtain a comprehensive understanding of the genetic history of South America.

This project aims to investigate the genetic ancestry in admixed populations from South America by focusing on lineage and autosomal markers. The project will address the issues regarding marker selection, interpretation and reporting in a forensic context. The investigations will be carried out primarily using massively parallel sequencing (MPS). The project will be performed at the Section of Forensic Genetics, Department of Forensic Medicine.

Principal supervisor

Vânia Pereira, Associate Professor, Section of Forensic Genetics, Department of Forensic Medicine


Leonor Gusmão, Professor, State University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Claus Børsting, Senior Researcher, Section of Forensic Genetics, Department of Forensic Medicine.

Start: 1 September 2020.

Duration: Up to 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:
  • Perform an independent research project under supervision 
  • Complete PhD courses or other equivalent education corresponding to approx. 30 ECTS points
  • Participate in other research environments including an external stay at another research group
  • Gain experience in teaching or other types of research dissemination related to the PhD project
  • Teach and disseminate knowledge
  • Write a PhD thesis on the grounds of the 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
  • Publications
  • Relevant work experience, preferably on MPS and analysis of genetic data
  • Other professional activities
  • Curious mindset with a strong interest in population genetics
  • 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 up to 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 29,600 /27,600  DKK /approx.  3,900 / 3,700 EUR (April 2020-level) plus pension.


For specific information about the PhD fellowship, please contact the main supervisor.
General information about PhD study at the Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences is available at the Graduate School’s website:

Application procedure

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

  • Motivation 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 applicable)

Application deadline: 21 June , 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. 


Vânia Pereira; E-mail:


Deadline for application: 21-06-2020

Date of employment: 1st September 2020

Place of employment: Department of Forensic Medicine


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.


Application deadline: 21-06-2020
Employment start: 01-09-2020
Department/Location: Retsmedicinsk Institut

In your application, please refer to


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