Postdoc Fellow: Studying neurological disorders using 500,000 exomes

Vacancy Reference Number
Closing Date
5 Dec 2021
Competitive Salary, Bonus & Benefits
AstraZeneca: DaVinci and RDC, Cambridge

AstraZeneca is a global, science-led, patient-centered biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines for some of the world’s most serious disease. But we’re more than one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical

companies. At AstraZeneca, we're dedicated to being a Great Place to Work where you are empowered to push the boundaries of science and fuel your entrepreneurial spirit. There’s no better place to make a difference to medicine, patients and society.

About the Postdoc Programme:

Bring your expertise, apply your knowledge, follow the science and make a difference!

AstraZeneca’s Postdoc Programme is for self-motivated individuals looking to take on exciting, high impact projects in a collaborative and innovative environment. Working with peers and professionals from a diverse set of backgrounds, together with a world class academic mentor aligned specifically to your project, you’ll be respected as a specialist, and encouraged to speak up. You’ll lead a novel and innovative research project at the interface of drug discovery and biopharmaceutical development in a multi-disciplinary scientific environment. You’ll be empowered and supported to drive the success of your project, publish papers, achieve your goals and make difference to our patients.

Running alongside your research project, our postdoc training program will help you learn about drug discovery and development from industry leaders working in our innovative research laboratories and organisation.

About the Opportunity

AstraZeneca’s Centre for Genomics Research (CGR) has an exciting opportunity for a Postdoc Fellow to contribute to the genomic strategies of the CGR in an unprecedented genomic initiative, involving the sequencing and analysis of up to 2 million genomes. This includes analysing the sequences of up to 500,000 participants from AZ clinical trials and the sequence data from large population cohorts including the ~500,000 UK Biobank participants.

Genomics is fundamental to our laboratory research, our clinical trials and the launch of new precision medicines. Our in-house clinico-genomic database is already among one of the largest globally, currently housing hundreds of thousands of human exome and genome sequences to enable

AZ to identify genetic determinants for disease risk, validate new targets for medicines and improve patient stratification opportunities among core therapeutic areas.

This role is an opportunity to be part of ground-breaking research at the forefront of human genomics. Drawing upon the UK Biobank, and other ethnically diverse biobanks available to AZ, the successful postdoc will apply advanced analytical approaches to mine genomic DNA and predicted proteome sequences, alongside rich medical history data from >450K individuals and proteomics data from O-link on ~50K of these individuals. Robust genetic evidence will be generated for new and existing drug targets for neuropathic pain and neurodegenerative diseases with large unmet medical needs.

The primary objective is to combine genetic sequence and proteomic data with phenotypes captured by the UK Biobank, Genomics England, FinnGen and other non-European Biobanks to identify genes involved in neurodegenerative diseases and neuropathic pain. The role of these genes will be tested in gene expression (eQTL) using publicly available RNA-seq data in tissues of relevance, as well as in protein expression (pQTL) using both publicly available and AZ Genomics Initiative’s exclusive access proteomics data. These analyses will inform the potential of the genes as putative therapeutic targets. Further proteome analyses will score each individual’s risk of neurological disease to guide patient selection and stratification.

You'll be supervised by Dr Ioanna Tachmazidou, a Principal scientist in Statistical Genetics at CGR. As well as being co-supervised by Dr Keith Tan, Head of Translational Medicine in Neuroscience at AZ. Prof Zoe Kourtzi, Professor of Cognitive Computational Neuroscience, University of Cambridge, who works at the interface of machine learning, neuroscience and clinical practice will act as your academic mentor. The close working relationship between Tachmazidou, Tan and Kourtzi will ensure a consistent set of scientific goals and achievements.

Qualification, Skills & Experience


  • PhD in human genomics, statistical genetics, bioinformatics, computational biology or other relevant field

  • Expertise analysing human exome or genome sequencing data

  • Coding skills appropriate for genomic analysis (e.g. R, Perl, Python, UNIX, Bash, Slurm, high performance computing)

  • Understanding or interest in the potential of genomics to impact drug discovery


  • Experience analysing and interpreting electronic health data

  • Experience quantifying and interpreting the clinical relevance of rare variants

  • Experience in case-control sequencing based statistical analyses

  • Experience analysing transcriptomics and proteomics data

  • Experience in applied statistics and/or machine learning for human genomics

  • Familiarity working on genomics studies in neuroscience

  • Track record of first-authored work published in reputable scientific journals

This is a 3-year programme. 2 years will be a Fixed Term Contract, with a 1-year extension which will be merit based.

Ready for an exciting, rewarding challenge? Apply today!

Advert Opens: 26th October, 2021

Advert Closes: 5th December, 2021

Should you require any reasonable adjustments or accommodations, please let us know on your application.

Where can I find out more?

Follow AstraZeneca on LinkedIn

Find out more about the Postdoc Programme here:


AstraZeneca embraces diversity and equality of opportunity. We are committed to building an inclusive and diverse team representing all backgrounds, with as wide a range of perspectives as possible, and harnessing industry-leading skills. We believe that the more inclusive we are, the better our work will be. We welcome and consider applications to join our team from all qualified candidates, regardless of their characteristics. We comply with all applicable laws and regulations on non-discrimination in employment (and recruitment), as well as work authorisation and employment eligibility verification requirements.

Further Information