Joint PhD Call (late 2021)


(scroll down for frequently asked questions)


20 fully funded PhD fellowships in Quantitative Biology 


The advent of large-throughput data is transforming life sciences into an increasingly quantitative discipline. The University of Lausanne (Switzerland) is at the forefront of this revolution, with quantitative research ramping up throughout the Faculty of Biology and Medicine, a dedicated department of Computational Biology, and interdisciplinary units such as the Center for Integrative Genomics. UNIL also hosts the headquarters of the Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, to which many quantitative research groups are affiliated, and closely collaborates with EPFL on the same campus. Ideally situated along the lake of Geneva, near Lausanne's city center, UNIL brings together over 120 nationalities.

UNIL's Faculty of Biology and Medicine has recently launched a doctoral program entitled "Quantitative Biology". A wide range of research groups are recruiting PhD students, covering areas as diverse as Genetics, Cell biology, Metabolism, Computational biology, Oncology, Evolution, Microbiology, Imaging, Molecular biology, Neuroscience, Gene regulation, Radiobiology, Plant science, Ancient DNA, Population Genetics, Single-cell Genomics, Epi-lipidomics, Stem Cell Biology, Tissue Engineering and Biomaterials.

In 2021, hiring principal investigators include Francesca Amati, Claudia BagniSven Bergmann, Christophe Dessimoz, Oscar EstebanDavid Gfeller, Raphaēl GottardoJérôme Goudet, Emmanuella GuenovaJames Habib ShukryLaurent Keller, Zoltán Kutalik, Anna-Sapfo MalaspinasSophie Martin, Micah Murray, Alexandre ReymondTanja Schwander, Alessandro Villa, Claus WedekindChristian Widmann.


Job information

Expected start date: 01.03.2022 or to be agreed

Successful candidates will be offered one of two kinds of PhD student work contract, depending on the funding available to the hiring supervisor by the start of the contract:

(1)    Doctoral assistant on UNIL funds, at an activity rate of 85%. The initial contract is of one year but will be renewed up to 5 years.
(2)    Doctoral assistant on external funds, at an activity rate of 100%. The initial contract is of one year but will be renewed up to 4 years.

Please also note that in some cases, again depending on the hiring supervisor situation, contracts will be issued from the CHUV (University Hospital) or a different UNIL faculty.

Workplace: University of Lausanne (Dorigny, Bugnon, or Epalinges—depending on the supervisor)


Your qualifications

We are accepting applications from talented and enthusiastic candidates who are interested in a dynamic, well-supported lab at a top research institution. Candidates need to finish a Master’s degree in a relevant area before the start date of their doctoral studies.


We are looking for three main types of PhD students:

  • Students with a life science degree, interested in working in an experimental lab, but with a high degree of motivation to learn the fundamentals of computational biology, and to develop quantitative skills to analyze data more effectively
  • Students with a life science degree interested in working in a dry computational lab, keen to deepen their quantitative skills and broaden their horizon in terms of experimental and computational techniques
  • Students with a non-biological background (e.g. computer science, maths, physics), who are highly motivated to transition to Life Sciences


A high level of written and spoken English proficiency is required since most scientific activities are conducted in English.


What the position offers you


You will develop your research project while working in a world-class, interdisciplinary and highly collaborative environment. 


The PhD program in Quantitative Biology provides opportunities for professional training and acquisition of highly transferable skills. This is complemented by a wide range of activities (retreats, symposia, student life).


The position is fully funded. Salary and benefits are internationally highly competitive. Additional funding for consumables, computing, and to attend international conferences is available.



Informal inquiries

Prof. Christophe Dessimoz, Director of the UNIL Doctoral Program in Quantitative Biology program


Your application 

Deadline: 15.10.2021


For your application to be considered, you need to fill in two forms. Please read these instructions carefully.


The first form, linked here, requires the following informations:

  • Personal details
  • A cover letter. This can be very brief, since you will provide your motivations in the second form below.
  • A single PDF document containing:
    • Your curriculum vitae (with extracurricular activities, internships, publications, conferences, awards, software contributions, etc.)
    • Available transcripts (Bachelor's and, if available, Master's)
    • Bachelor or Master’s thesis summary, preferably, or summary of any research project you've been involved in. If the work is part of a team, please clarify your contribution.
  • The names and contact details of 2-3 referees


The second form, linked here, requires you to answer the following questions

  • What your most meaningful research experience to date and why? [up to 4000 characters, i.e. approximately 850 words]
  • What accomplishment—academic or not—to date are you proudest and why? [up to 1500 characters, i.e. approximately 320 words]
  • Why would you like to pursue a PhD, and why specifically at the UNIL Quantitative Biology Ph.D. program? [up to 1500 characters, i.e. approximately 320 words]
  • Which recruiting labs are you the most interested in and why [up to 1500 characters, i.e. approximately 320 words]

If you can't access the second form (e.g. connecting from China), please follow the instructions on this page.


Remote interviews will take place on 17 and 18 November 2021. Lab visits and interviews will take place on 8-9 December 2021 in Lausanne (pandemic allowing—else remote alternative will be organized).



Download a poster


Frequently asked questions

Which labs will be recruiting this round?

The current list of recruiting professors is provided in the job announcement above. Please note that this is still subject to changes.

Do I need to specify which lab I would like to join?

Yes, this information is required in the second application form. However, keep in mind that this is not binding and that you can update your preference on the interview day, should you be selected.

What will happen after I send my application?

The hiring committee will evaluate and shortlist candidates for remote interviews to take place on 17 and 18 November 2021. Following this, successful short-listed applicants will be invited for in-person interviews (pandemic permitting—else we will have a remote alternative) where hiring labs will introduce themselves and candidates will be interviewed, scheduled to take place on 8 and 9 December 2021. At the end of this process, both candidates and recruiting labs will be asked for their preferred choice(s), and job offers will be made on this basis.

Do I need to have completed my Master's degree by the time of the application?

No, you need to have completed at the latest by the time you get hired, so if you expect graduation within a few months, it might still be worthwhile applying.

Can the letters of recommendation be submitted by the referees after the application deadline?

There is no need to submit recommendation letters at all, as we will only solicit letters if your application ranks highly. Therefore, all you need to provide at the time of application are the name and contact details of your references.

Who will cover the costs of the in-person interview?

We will cover the travel and accommodation of candidates invited to Lausanne for an interview.

Do I need to contact prospective supervisors ahead of my application?

No, this is not needed. Prospective supervisors will look at the applications very closely, so the best way to attract their attention is by providing complete and thoughtful application materials. But if you have specific questions that need to be answered ahead of your application, you can of course contact them.

Do I need to have published papers to qualify?

No, not necessarily. Publications can be indicative of your abilities and potential, but it is not expected that you have published at this stage. We consider all relevant information. If you do have papers, make sure to indicate what was your contribution. 

I can't access the form #2. Can I still apply?

We are aware that Google Forms are blocked in some countries. Please follow the instructions on this page.

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