Postdoctoral research position (3-year, full-time)

We have an exciting three-year postdoctoral research position available within the Psychiatric Genetic Epidemiology (PaGE) group at Nic Waals Institute, Lovisenberg Diaconal Hospital. The successful applicant will work on data from more than 100,000 children and their parents from the Norwegian Mother, Father and Child Cohort Study (MoBa), including genotype data and longitudinal follow-up from pregnancy onwards.

The overarching purpose of the PaGE research program is to produce research findings contributing to more effective detection, prevention, and treatment of psychiatric disorders. PaGE has the following scientific objectives: 1) Elucidating how genetic risk for psychiatric disorders is expressed in early development; 2) Distinguishing genetic and environmental pathways of within-family transmission of psychiatric disorders; and 3) Identifying causal environmental risk and protective factors for psychiatric disorders.

The aims for the postdoctoral fellow are to use family-designs to:

  • Disentangle genetic and environmental modes of within-family transmission of psychiatric problems, including distinguishing environmental effects (i.e., parents’ characteristics influencing child psychiatric problems through the nurturing environment) from the genetic transmission of psychiatric risk variants from parents to their offspring.
  • Elucidate the extent and impact of parental assortative mating on offspring mental health.
  • Clarify the polygenic contribution to psychiatric problems using a novel, family-based design that is robust to many common confounders.
  • Examine whether children's psychiatric problems have causal, evocative effects on their parents' functioning (e.g., parenting, inter-parental relationship, and psychiatric health).

MoBa is the primary sample, but we will also seek replication of our findings in other pregnancy/birth cohorts and, where appropriate, meta-analyze results across studies to further increase statistical power.

The postdoctoral researcher will lead the project at Nic Waals Institute in collaboration with Alexandra Havdahl (PI). The successful candidate will become part of a multi-institutional and international research environment, including experts in psychology and psychiatry, genetics, epidemiology, and causal inference, such as Professors Ted Reichborn-Kjennerud (Norwegian Institute of Public Health), George Davey Smith (University of Bristol), David Evans (University of Queensland), Anita Thapar (Cardiff University) and Ole Andreassen (NORMENT).

The position includes the possibility for a research visit (3-12 months) at one of the collaborating institutions such as the MRC Integrative Epidemiology Unit at the University of Bristol. The funder of the postdoctoral project encourages fellows to apply for an exchange fellowship to cover all travel and accommodation expenses.

Scientific responsibilities:

  • Develop analysis plans.
  • Quality control of genotype data.
  • Develop an analytic pipeline to optimize several different analyses making use of the family structure within MoBa.
  • Perform statistical analyses.
  • Write papers for publication both as first author and co-author.
  • Present findings at international research conferences and in popular media.
  • Maintain and develop own research skills by participation in seminars, journal clubs, research meetings, and short courses, as appropriate.
  • Collaborate with other team members across all aspects of the project.

Research administration responsibilities

  • Keep clear records of analyses.
  • Ensure that all work adheres to the research governance, data protection and confidentiality protocols.
  • Assist with the co-ordination of project team meetings, preparing and circulating minutes where appropriate.
  • Assist with the organization of research seminars and conferences.

Essential experience, skills and knowledge:

  • Completed PhD in a relevant field by start date (e.g., epidemiology, genetics, statistics, medicine or psychology).
  • Strong publication record, including in international peer-reviewed journals as first author.
  • Experience in using one or more genetic epidemiological methods (e.g., polygenic risk scoring, Mendelian Randomization, GWAS).
  • Excellent statistical and quantitative skills.
  • Demonstrable expertise in the use of statistical software (e.g., Stata, R, SPSS) for data management and statistical analysis.

Desirable experience, skills and knowledge:

  • Education and/or research experience in psychology/mental health.
  • Experience with analysis of large data sets and family data.
  • Experience with UNIX/Linux and cluster computing.
  • Interest and experience in open science practices.

Essential communication and personal skills:

  • Excellent English written and oral communication skills.
  • Self-motivated, proactive, and able to use initiative where appropriate.
  • Evidence of good organizational skills and attention to detail.
  • Ability to plan and prioritize workload and track record of being able to work independently and take responsibility for project completion.
  • Ability to communicate effectively with colleagues from multiple scientific disciplines.

The selection process will also take account of candidate’s overall fit for the position.

We offer:

  • Fixed term contract for 3 years with salary NOK 500,000 to NOK 570,000 per annum, depending on qualifications.
  • An inspiring working environment with highly-qualified national and international collaborators.
  • Use of unique data sources such as the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study and national registries.
  • Flexible working conditions.
  • Attractive welfare benefits and a generous salary pension scheme through KLP (
  • A wide range of company sports teams and Oslo’s rich opportunities for culture and outdoor activities.

The application must be in English or a Scandinavian language and include:

  • Cover letter of max. 2 pages (statement of motivation, summarizing scientific work and research interest).
  • CV and complete list of publications.
  • PhD diploma and transcript of grades from other graduate/undergraduate degrees.
  • List of 2-3 referee persons (name, relation to candidate, email and phone number).

Applications should be emailed to PI Alexandra Havdahl ( or submitted through Easycruit.

Start date: Nov 30th 2020 (or as soon as possible after this date).

About the employer
The vision for research at Lovisenberg Diaconal Hospital is that it shall contribute to novel and future-oriented knowledge, strengthen existing competence and improve health care services. We have some of Norway’s leading research groups in medicine, psychology and other health sciences. Nic Waals Institute is the hospital’s mental health clinic for children and adolescents and also functions as student clinic at the University of Oslo Department of Psychology. Nic Waals Institute was responsible for the research clinic in the Autism Birth Cohort (ABC) Study, where more than 1,000 children from the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study received comprehensive assessments.

Lovisenberg Diaconal Hospital is a local hospital for approximately 180.000 citizens in Oslo within medical and mental health services. The hospital has a comprehensive scheduled surgery and special functions such as Hospice and the national oral medical competence centre TAKO. The hospital is owned by the diaconal foundations Diakonova and Diakonissehuset Lovisenberg, which have an operation agreement with the South-Eastern Norway Regional Health Authority. The hospital is based on diaconal values with non-commercial goals. Employees are expected to contribute actively to the hospital living up to our core values of quality and compassion. See