sleep epidemiology, genetics & neurophysiology


Brigham & Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston

Open positions

Post-doctoral positions in 1) the quantitative analysis of sleep EEG, and 2) the genetic analysis of sleep signal data

The Purcell lab is accepting applications for postdoctoral fellows wishing to pursue cross-disciplinary research at the intersection of sleep, genetics and psychiatric disease. Our current work aims to characterize individual differences in brain activity during sleep, and to map the genetic basis of this variation and its role in cognitive functioning and mental illness. There will be opportunities to work on a range of projects, including signal processing and machine learning on physiological time series data from polysomnography (primarily EEG), epidemiological analyses of large datasets, and/or genome-wide association and whole-genome sequencing studies. Projects will often entail a methodological component, involving developing novel methods and software. Successful candidates will be expected to disseminate their work through publications and presentations at scientific conferences. The positions will be based in the Department of Psychiatry, although there will be considerable opportunities for collaboration with a broad set of investigators focused on sleep, genetics and psychiatry, both within Brigham & Women’s Hospital and across Boston.

Requirements: a PhD in quantitative/computational life sciences, especially cognitive neuroscience, psychology, computational biology, genetics or related fields. Individuals with backgrounds in computer science, statistics or electrical engineering who can show a demonstrable interest in the life sciences will also be considered. Successful candidates will have strong publication records and extensive experience developing and/or applying computational methods, ideally using C/C++, R and/or Matlab, and familiarity with high-performance computing. We are particularly interested in individuals with a background in signal processing or cognitive neuroscience who are looking to gain experience in human genetics, or vice versa.

To apply, please send 1) your CV, 2) a 1-page statement of your scientific interests, major achievements and career goals, and 3) letters or contact information for three references. A two-year commitment is expected.

Postdoctoral position in the epidemiology and causal modelling of sleep, common health outcomes and racial/ethnicity disparities.

A multidisciplinary team of researchers at the Brigham & Women’s Hospital, Harvard Medical School (BWH/HMS) and the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH) is accepting applications for a postdoctoral fellow wishing to pursue research in sleep and racial/ethnic health disparity research.

Growing evidence suggests that sleep mediates multiple adverse psychosocial factors that disproportionately impact racial and ethnic minorities, ultimately contributing to the major health disparities observed in the United States. This NIMHD-funded project will analyze a large (N>12,000), racially and ethnically diverse collection of individuals, on whom polysomnograms (EEG, ECG and respiratory measures) and an array of demographic and biomedical variables are available. The goals of the study are to better characterize individual differences in sleep architecture, and identify their causes and consequences in terms of racial/ethnic health disparities in common health outcomes.

The primary focus of this position will be on the application of statistical models to make causal inferences with respect to sleep, health and racial/ethnic health disparities. The successful candidate will work closely with Dr. Shaun Purcell (BWH/HMS) and Dr. Jarvis Chen (HSPH). The project will use data from a number of sources, including the National Sleep Research Resource. Successful candidates will be expected to disseminate their work through publications and presentations at scientific conferences. There will also be opportunities for collaboration with a broad set of investigators focused on sleep, epidemiology and causal inference methodologies, both with BWH and HSPH.

Requirements: a PhD in statistics or epidemiology, or similar quantitative area. The ideal candidate will have demonstrated interest in sleep or racial/ethnic health disparities research, although this is not a requirement. Experience with causal inference methods, including causal mediation analysis, is highly desirable. The successful candidate will also have a strong publication record and extensive experience developing and/or applying computational methods, ideally using R, and familiarity with high-performance computing environments.

To apply, please send 1) your CV, 2) a 1-page statement of your scientific interests, major achievements and career goals, and 3) letters or contact information for three references. A two-year commitment is expected.