Vacancy: Post-doctoral researcher in deep learning-based functional annotation at BASF and Ghent University


For a joint project of BASF Agricultural Solutions Innovation Center Gent and Ghent University, we are looking for a deep learning expert who will develop and implement deep learning methodologies using large-scale and diverse genomics data to characterize and predict protein function. The candidate will be funded firstly by BASF for 6 months for defining a funding application, which will be used to fund her/him for another 2-year research period. The successful applicant will be supervised by Ghent University, working closely with machine learning experts of the Internet Technology and Data Science Lab (IDLab) of Ghent University and deep learning experts of the Center for Biotech Data Science of Ghent University Global Campus in Korea, as well as with BASF data scientists. The candidate will have access to extensive computing facilities (including GPUs).

About BASF

BASF is the world’s leading chemical company because we offer intelligent solutions for our customers and for a sustainable future. Agriculture plays a fundamental role in fulfilling many of humanity’s basic needs: food, feed, energy. To support growers and those who take care of our environment, BASF develops innovative solutions for farming, pest control and landscape management – so that we can effectively contribute to improving people’s lives and business’ demands.

Our plant innovation center in Ghent aims at developing innovative solutions to optimize plant growth. Its main purpose is to make agricultural economy more productive and as such contribute to society by helping to ensure an ample supply of high quality food and feed. You will be part of the genomics and gene function annotation team which aims at identification and prioritization of trait-associated genes by understanding gene function using diverse wet-lab and (bio)informatics technologies and data sets.

About Ghent University

Ghent University is a top 100 university and one of the major universities in Belgium. Our 11 faculties offer a wide range of courses and conduct in-depth research within a wide range of scientific domains.

IDLab is a core research group of imec with research activities embedded in Ghent University and the University of Antwerp. IDLab performs fundamental and applied research on internet technology and data science, and is, with over 300 researchers, one of the larger research groups at imec. The research areas of IDLab cover machine learning and data mining, semantic intelligence, and cloud and big data infrastructures (a/o).

Ghent University Global Campus (GUGC) is the first European university to be part of the Incheon Global Campus (IGC) in South Korea, offering three Bachelor of Science programs in the Life Sciences. At GUGC, the Center for Biotech Data Science develops new mathematical and computational approaches for extracting knowledge from vast sets of biotech data, including omics data, medical images, and clinical patient records.

Your Tasks and Responsibilities

  • Post-doctoral research and development (6-months + 2-year appointment)
  • Write and submit a funding application for applying emerging deep learning techniques to the problem of functional gene annotation
  • Implement a deep learning platform for biotech data analysis, improving the current computational pipeline used
  • Pro-actively and regularly report results and updates to the project lead during project meetings
  • Work closely with computer scientists, data scientists, and life scientists in both academia and industry

Who You Are

  • PhD degree in computational biology, bioinformatics, computer science, (bio-)statistics, mathematics, or related fields
  • Proven ability to analyze (large) data sets with shallow/deep machine learning techniques
  • Good programming skills in languages such as Python or R
  • Experience with a high-performance UNIX-based cluster environment is a plus
  • Experience with a deep learning framework (e.g., TensorFlow, Keras, PyTorch) is a plus
  • A background in genomics and plant biology is a plus
  • Excellent in working in interdisciplinary teams with an international character
  • Proficient verbal, written, and presentation skills in English

Application Procedure

Applications should be sent to both Xi Wang ( and Wesley De Neve (), with subject “Application: Postdoc in Functional Annotation”.

Applications should include (1) an academic/professional resume, including bibliography and project experience, (2) a personal motivation letter, and (3) at least two reference contacts. After a first screening, selected candidates will be invited for an interview (possibly via Skype).

  • Application deadline: September 28 or until position has been filled
  • Salary: According to the salary scales of Ghent University
  • Starting date: December 2018 (negotiable)
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