PhD Scholarship in Deciphering the Genetic Architecture of Human Complex Traits

PhD Scholarship in Deciphering the Genetic Architecture of Human Complex Traits

The University of Queensland - Institute for Molecular Bioscience

Brisbane, Australia

We are seeking a dynamic, intelligent, highly motivated PhD student to work on the project that will be further developed with input from the successful applicant, but will focus on the following area:

Statistical Genomics

Program in Complex Trait Genomics ( is based at the Institute for Molecular Biosciences ( and focuses on research towards a better understanding of psychiatric disorders and motor neuron disease and on the development of underpinning computational and statistical analysis methods. The Centre is co-directed by Professors Peter Visscher, Naomi Wray and Jian Yang. PCTG is internationally recognized for pioneering the use of multi-marker statistical methods in human genetics and our innovative methods in the analysis of genetic data of complex traits. Research is regularly published in top journals such as Nature, Science, Nature Genetics, Genome Research, American Journal of Human Genetics, PLoS Genetics and Molecular Psychiatry.

Research at PCTG covers four major themes: Statistical Genomics, Systems Genomics, Psychiatric Genomics and Motor Neuron Disease Genomics. The Program consists of over 20 postdoctoral research staff as well as PhD students, research assistants and visiting academics. Current research with PCTG involves; the development of novel statistical genetics methodology and software; analysis of genotype, expression and methylation array data alongside DNA and RNA sequencing data; application of statistical genetic methods to infer the genetic control of diseases.

The project may relate to one of the following aims:

AIM 1: To predict genetic regulatory mechanisms underpinning variation in complex traits. The goal is to develop and apply statistical methods to integrate GWAS results with omics data in large samples to predict putative gene

targets and regulatory mechanisms of how the genetic variants exert effects on complex traits through regulating the expression levels of genes at functional DNA elements.

AIM 2: To develop and apply statistical methods to large GWAS data for estimating the genetic architecture parameters for complex traits and detecting signatures of natural selection at the trait-associated genetic variants. The signature of natural selection can be inferred by estimating the joint distribution of effect sizes and allele frequencies for all genetic variants.

AIM 3: To quantify the genetic differences in complex traits between populations. This aim attempts to quantify the extent to which the GWAS findings in samples of European ancestry can be applied to non-European populations and to test whether the observed mean differences in complex traits among global populations are caused by genetic differentiation driven by natural selection.

The project will be carried out in Professor Jian Yang’s research group within the Program in Complex Trait Genomics ( at the Institute for Molecular Biosciences (

Selection criteria

Both Australian and international applicants are welcome to apply. The successful candidate should have a First Class Honours Degree or Masters Degree (or equivalent), majoring in statistical genetics, quantitative genetics, bioinformatics, computer programming statistics or other relevant discipline. Strong academic performance, good oral and written communication skills, and published output will be additional assessment criteria.

To be eligible to apply, you must also meet the entry requirements for Higher Degrees by Research at UQ. Please visit the Graduate School’s website (


Prospective students will be provided with assistance to apply for a scholarship. Domestic students will be expected to apply for an APA or equivalent scholarship, while international students will be expected to apply for UQ scholarships for international students for stipend and tuition support.

The 2019 Research Training Program (RTP) living allowance stipend rate is AUD$27,596 per annum (indexed annually), which is tax-free for three years with two possible extensions of up to 6 months each in approved circumstances (conditions apply: For further information on this scholarship refer to:


For further information, please contact Rebecca Richter via

How to apply

Please visit the advertisement on the Graduate School website ( for information on how to apply. 

Applications close: 28 Apr 2019

Please apply via recruiter’s website.