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Research Fellow/ PhD Student

Research Fellow/ PhD Student
Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine – University of Zurich

Intersex: New Interdisciplinary Approaches (INIA) Training Network
Impact of parental psychosocial indicators on decision-making and outcome regarding intersex in Europe

INIA is a new international research network which will train a cohort of 10 early stage researchers working collaboratively to develop knowledge that will inform policy making and practice across a range of key sectors. This Innovative Training Network (ITN) is funded by the prestigious European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme, Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, grant number No 859869. ITNs aim to train a new generation of creative, entrepreneurial and innovative early-stage researchers, able to face current and future challenges and to convert knowledge and ideas into products and services for economic and social benefit.

Please see https://ec.europa.eu/research/mariecurieactions/actions/get-funding/innovative-training-networks_en

INIA addresses key issues for intersex wellbeing and rights, and it will develop topical applied outputs of relevance to stakeholders concerned to support the wellbeing and rights of intersex people, and intellectual resources. The specific healthcare, social and human rights issues of intersex people are often overlooked. They are diverse and continue to face exposure to multiple forms of human rights violations and discrimination, requiring cross-sectoral policy responses in fields including healthcare, education, and the law. INIA will enable a consortium of 21 organisations from 10 countries to work together on issues relating to intersex people and those with variations of sex characteristics, in a unique multidisciplinary and transectoral network. INIA is being established by the University of Huddersfield in partnership with the Université Libre de Bruxelles, Dublin City University, the University of Zurich, the Escuela Andaluza de Salud Pública / Andalusian School of Public Health and the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona as the main partners.

INIA aims to develop Intersex Studies as an interdisciplinary field, building on the existing scholarship of intersex people, and developing intellectual resources across a range of key areas. The Network consortium will bring together academic and other organisations across several European countries, in order to enable the training of a cohort of early stage researchers who will conduct research and aim to gain PhDs. This will be achieved by the establishment of a doctoral programme, delivered by partner Universities in collaboration with NGOs (especially Intersex Activist and Advocacy organisations) and other organisations. We are appointing 10 Research Fellows to take part in this doctoral programme, each with their own specific research project that will form the basis for their PhD. Each Research Fellow will also help their team to deliver a work package that is relevant across the different individual research projects.

We now invite applications for a 36-month position of Research Fellow on a project to generate understandings on psychosocial aspects of families with an intersex child, develop knowledge on influence of psychosocial factors on familial choice-making on medical interventions and support programmes for families.

Your responsibilities

This project will take place in Switzerland at the Institute of Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine in close collaboration with the University Children’s Hospital.

A key opportunity provided by this post is that the successful candidate will be able to do a PhD in Biomedical Ethics and History of Medicine. The unique project that you will potentially work on addresses to describe and analyse the demographical and psychosocial background of families with a child with intersex (1), to identify and collect outcome data at short-/mid-/long-term follow-up, to be included in a European DSD-Registry (2), and to describe and analyse the impact of social background and support programs on decision-making and outcome and producing a number of outputs as part of your PhD work, and in addition to it, all with the support of your supervisor/s and the wider network. If you are successful in getting this job you will take part in, and contribute to, 8 training events with the other Research Fellows that will take place in a range of countries, over the duration of the research. You will also have secondments at NGOs and Universities in Switzerland, Germany and Belgium which will enrich your training experience, research, and CV. The details of the project are:
Impact of parental psychosocial indicators on decision-making and outcome regarding intersex in Europe

Objectives: generate understandings on psychosocial aspects of families with an intersex child, develop knowledge on influence of psychosocial factors on familial choice-making on medical interventions and support programmes for families.
Expected Results:

1. Literature review on psychological aspects of health and intersex care.
2. Completion of exploratory semi-structured interviews with medics and other professionals providing care for intersex children and their families (including surgeons, endocrinologists, paediatricians, urologists, geneticists, psychologists, social workers, and nurses) (up to 30 interviews across at least 8 countries).
3. Completion of EU wide survey of multidisciplinary teams and hospitals providing care for intersex children.
4. Valid indicators for psychosocial support (short, mid and long-term) to be included in a European-wide registry.
5. Proposal of support measures on familial psychosocial background and decision-making for medical interventions and intersex children.
6. eBrief on the findings for medics and healthcare professionals (in ES, FR, DE, EN).
7. Chapter for INIA eBook.

Your profile


Applicants from all countries are eligible. However, as the network aims to foster international collaborations, applicants who are Spanish nationals are only be eligible for this post if only if they have lived or carried out their main activity in another country for more than 24 months since May 2017. The appointed person needs to commit themselves to only do paid work on the INIA project for the duration of their employment contract. They will be expected to relocate to live most of the time in or close to Zurich, Switzerland. The INIA project language is English with the need for basic German-skills. The interviews will be held in English.

Relevant degree/s with good grade/s (degree subjects could include medicine, law, psychology, cultural studies, politics, sociology, social policy) OR substantial experience of relevant work for example doing research, writing reports or academic writing

Good knowledge of issues concerning sex, gender, and social inequalities
Experience Ability to maintain confidentiality and to operate in an ethical way at all times
Any potential conflicts of interest (such as previous collaborative or social relationships with any team members) must be declared on the application
Applicants need to want to undertake teaching, teamwork, knowledge transfer, management of their project and some supervision (e.g. of administrative staff) and raise public awareness.

Basic knowledge in German
A high level of English language skill is necessary as the project is in English

Ability to:

  • work in a team
  • work cross-culturally at an international level
  • travel and to work in other countries including taking part in secondments with NGOs and in academic or medical settings
  • work with a range of stakeholders including activists and advocates, medical practitioners, policy makers, the public, and academics
  • keep to deadlines and to deliver results

Support for our aim that INIA will ensure that all aspects of the project- training, research, decision-making, dissemination- are driven by inclusive and diverse perspectives and experiences. It is necessary that the Research Fellow has a commitment to equality and diversity including sex, sexual orientation, gender expression / identity, sex characteristics, race and ethnicity, age, caring responsibilities, faith, and ability. Intersex people, women, those with caring responsibilities, and those from other underrepresented groups are particularly encouraged to apply.

Research Career:
The RF will wish to develop their research career in the field of intersex and sex variance, and to register for a PhD. INIA will make a substantial impact on their research career development

What we offer

We offer varied and interesting work in an inspiring and socially relevant environment.
Diversity and inclusion are important to us.

Also see: https://www.uzh.ch/cmsssl/en/about/work.html#0-0

Place of work


Start of employment

Employment start date is September 1. Please submit your application by 30.04.2020.
First selections and first interviews will take place from mid-May 2020