Graduate student

Graduate student

Faculty of Medicine, University of Iceland

Reykjavik, Iceland

Kabuki syndrome (KS) is a rare Mendelian disorder of the epigenetic machinery caused by mutations in the Kmt2d gene, a critical epigenetic factor that helps maintain H3K4 methylation. Prior studies in a mouse model of KS have demonstrated that KS may be a treatable cause of intellectual disability, as previously we have shown that agents that promote chromatin opening lead to postnatal rescue of neurological dysfunction, but we still lack an understanding of the specific genes that mediate this response. In this project we have created models (neuronal cells and mice) with variants in Kmt2d, and we would like to discover and validate the genes that are normally regulated by KMT2D that play a key role in the disease pathogenesis in KS. This project is fully funded for 3 years and the student will receive a PhD degree from the University of Iceland. The student will use cutting edge methods, such as CRISPR-Cas9 forward mutagenesis og CRISPR-dCas9 epigenetic disruption to find and validate a role for KMT2D targets genes in the KS disease pathogenesis.

This project will take place within a vibrant scientific environment within the Biomedical Center at the University of Iceland ( The BMC is an official collaboration between research groups working in biomedical molecular life sciences within the University, the University Hospital, Reykjavik University and other research institutions in Iceland. It includes over 70 Principal Investigators and over a hundred graduate students and postdocs. The student will be part of the Bjornsson laboratory, a growing international group based in Iceland and in the US (Johns Hopkins University). Our group has recently published papers in high impact journals such as Science Translational Medicine, PNAS and Genome Research. The graduate student will be mentored by Dr. Björnsson, an associate professor in Translational Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Iceland. The Bjornsson lab is located within the deCODE genetics campus, and there are ongoing collaborations with deCODE, which is one of the most productive genetic enterprises in the world. The graduate program will take place in Reykjavík, Iceland, which is safe, beautiful and a fun place to live in with the option of spending time at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore.  

Qualification requirements

•   M.Sc. (or equivalent) in genetics, biomedical engineering, cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry or related fields 

•   Laboratory experience in genetics, cellular and molecular biology, biochemistry 

•   Good computer and data analysis skills are essential

•   Proficiency in written and spoken English

•   Independence and ability to work in a team

•   The applicant has to fulfill the requirements for registration in PhD studies in the School of Health Sciences.

Application process

Work on the project should start 1. May 2019, or according to further agreement.

Interested applicants are invited to send:

•   A short letter (max. 2 pages) describing their carrier goals, their interest in the project, and how they can contribute, as well as how they fulfill the application criteria 

•   Curriculum vitae

•   Confirmed copy of academic degrees (BSc, MSc or equivalent) and grades.

•   Contact information (address, phone number, e-mail) for 2 letter of reference (and relationships between applicant and referee) 

•   List of publications and presentations, if a applicable

•   Applicants may also provide their MSc thesis and publications as a PDF files 

Salary is according official agreement between collective wage and salary agreement between the Minister of Finance and the relevant union. All applications will be answered and applicants will be notified of the employment decision when a decision has been made. Applications will be valid for six months from the end of the application deadline.  Appointments to positions at the University of Iceland are made in consideration of the Equal Rights Policy of the University of Iceland.

The University of Iceland has a special Language Policy. School of Health Sciences offers diverse academic programs in health sciences, on undergraduate and postgraduate levels. World class research is conducted at the School of Health Sciences and our staff and students play a leading role in the development and growth of the Icelandic health sector.  The University of Iceland is the largest teaching, research and science institute in Iceland and is ranked among the top 250 universities in the world by Times Higher Education.

More information about the University of Iceland can be found at the University of Iceland website, Relocation Service.

Further information

For further information, please contact Hans Tómas Björnsson (

Please apply via recruiter’s website.