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Postdoctoral Fellow

Salary £31,115 to £39,004 plus excellent benefits.

Fixed term for 2 years.

This project will use computational and statistical analysis of large genomic datasets to characterise and optimise molecular targets for malaria vaccine development.  A major challenge in vaccine development is to overcome the parasite’s remarkable ability to evade the human immune system through extremely high levels of antigenic diversity.  We are using genome sequence data on thousands of Plasmodium parasites sampledin different locations to undertake a deep analysis of this natural antigenic repertoire, with the aim of designing specific molecular targets where the parasite is most vulnerable to attack by a vaccine.

The post-holder will join a dynamic team at the Sanger Institute that has produced a large open data resources on Plasmodium genome variation and population genetics, and is continually working to improve the resolution and geographic coverage of the data in partnership with research groups around the world.  A key objective of the role will be to perform a detailed and comprehensive analysis of natural genetic variation in a wide range of candidate vaccine antigens in different geographical locations and epidemiological settings, and to make the findings easily accessible and of practical utility to vaccine developers and the research community. 

This is a challenging analytical problem since many malaria antigens are under strong diversifying selection, resulting in extremely complex forms of genetic variation that make it impossible to align sequence reads to a single reference genome.  The role will therefore involve the use of multiple reference genomes, reference-free variant calling, population reference graphs, long sequence read technologies and other cutting-edge tools for analysis of complex genome variation.  The post-holder will work closely with colleagues at Sanger, EBI and Oxford who are developing these methodologies and applying them to a wide range of problems in malaria epidemiology and host-parasite evolution.

The post-holder will also interact with researchers at Sanger Institute and the KEMRI-Wellcome Trust in Kenya who are conducting laboratory and field studies related to malaria vaccine development.  This will include the design of recombinant antigens for antibody screening in controlled studies of human malaria infection, and prioritisation of novel vaccine candidates by combining experimental datasets with large-scale population genomic data.

Job Reference
82836

Essential Skills

  • PhD in statistics, population genetics or other relevant area of quantitative analysis
  • Strong skills in computer programming for advanced statistical analysis and large-scale data management
  • Knowledge and experience in population genetics evidenced by publication record; including specific expertise in Plasmodium population genetics
  • Ability to execute complex analytical projects involving multiple partners
  • Ability to deliver high-quality scientific outputs
  • Ability to lead an area of work and to work effectively with colleagues leading other areas of work within a team environment
  • Ability to communicate effectively about complex technical matters with both technical experts and non-specialists

Other information

Postdoctoral Fellows are typically in their first or second postdoctoral position as part of a period of early career research training. Successful applicant(s) who have submitted their PhD thesis and are awaiting their PhD award are encouraged to apply. This position is initially for a fixed term for 2 years.

The Sanger Institute is a charitably funded research centre focused on understanding the role of genetics in health and disease. We use state of the art large-scale genomic approaches to drive world-leading projects to uncover the basis of genetic and infectious disease. Our goal is to provide results that can be translated into diagnostics, treatments or therapies that reduce global health burdens.

The Institute is located near Cambridge, UK on the stunning Wellcome Genome Campus. This growing and dynamic site is the British hub of genomic science. It hosts the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), Open Targets, a Biodata Innovation Centre and will soon host Genomics England Limited’s 100,000 Genomes Sequencing Centre. The Campus is also home to Wellcome Genome Campus Connecting Science. Connecting Science inspires new thinking, sparks conversation and supports learning by drawing on the ground-breaking research taking place on the Campus. Its mission is to enable everyone to explore genomic science and its impact on research, health and society.

To help researchers to develop their skills and networks, the Institute hosts a range of scientific seminars with internal and invited speakers, scientific group meetings and skills development workshops.

Our Benefits include: Defined Contribution Pension Scheme, Group Income Protection, Healthcare scheme, Childcare Vouchers, Workplace Nursery and 25 days Annual Leave, increasing by one day per year up to a maximum of 30, plus Bank Holidays. We also have a gym, two cafes, dining facilities, and a free campus bus service. Our thriving Sports and Social Club provides many opportunities to meet with people working across the campus.

Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute welcomes applications from all candidates irrespective of age, disability, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, religion or belief, or marital or civil partnership status.

Please include a covering letter and CV with your application.  

Closing date for applications:  18th September 2017, however applications will be considered and reviewed on an on-going basis and therefore the post may be filled before the deadline.