Research Associate - Bioinformatics (Cardiff)

Vacancy Reference Number
Closing Date
16 Dec 2021
£34,304 - £40,927 per annum (Grade 6)
This post is full time (35 hours per week), fixed term for 2 years and is available immediately.

Dementia is the greatest health challenge of our century

To date there is no way to prevent it or even slow its progression, and there is an urgent need to fill the knowledge gap in our basic understanding of the diseases that cause it.

The UK Dementia Research Institute (UK DRI) is the biggest UK initiative driving forward research to fill this gap.

The UK DRI at Cardiff is one of 7 UK centres bringing together world-leading scientists to deliver a step-change in the scientific understanding of dementia, generating new targets for drug development, reinvigorating the therapeutic pipeline and helping to transform care.

Rapid advances in DNA technologies and computational biology are enabling scientists to identify more and more of the subtle DNA variations that can influence a person’s risk of developing different neurodegenerative diseases. Researchers at the UK DRI at Cardiff interrogate the host of genetic variations linked with neurodegenerative diseases to make new discoveries about disease processes. They use experimental model systems along with a variety of cutting-edge experimental methods and equipment to dissect the biology of many of these genes. Building on the team’s international reputation for complex data analyses, they develop and apply advanced computational approaches that enable them to make sense of huge datasets generated by complex experiments.

We have an exciting opportunity for an enthusiastic and experienced computational biologist to join Professor Caleb Webber’s research group

within the UK Dementia Research Institute at Cardiff University.  The Webber group is expert in informatics and single cell analyses. The post holder will play a leading role in constructing cellular atlases of a range of human brain tissues using large sets of single cell data newly generated for this project. Through bioinformatics, functional genomics and statistical genetics approaches, the post holder will identify cell type-specific gene networks that intersect with a range of human genetic risks. This is a collaboration between Cardiff University, Oxford University and industry to deliver the next generation of CNS therapeutic targets.

The post holder will work independently and as part of a multi-disciplinary team, to perform self-directed analyses using novel and publicly available datasets delivering high impact, peer-reviewed publications. Applicants should be knowledgeable and enthusiastic with the ability to multi-task and communicate effectively. This academic/industrial partnership means collaborative working will be a key component of this role and effective communication skills will be vital.

The successful applicant will have proven expertise large-scale data analyses and manipulation, ideally single cell data analyses. Expert knowledge of data manipulation in a UNIX/Linux environment and proficiency in high level programming languages such as Perl, Python, or R Statistics is essential along with a good biological knowledge of neurodegenerative disease.

Main function 
To conduct bioinformatics, functional genomics and statistical genetics research on single cell gene expression data from human post-mortem tissue, and contribute to the overall research performance of the School and University, carrying out research leading to the publishing of work in high-quality journals. To pursue excellence in research and to inspire others to do the same. 

Main Duties and Responsibilities 

•    To conduct bioinformatics, functional genomics and statistical genetics research on single cell gene expression data from human post-mortem tissue, and contribute to the overall research performance of the School and University by the production of measurable outputs including bidding for funding, publishing in national academic journals and conferences, and the recruitment and supervision of postgraduate research students.  
•    To develop research objectives and proposals for own or joint research including research funding proposals.
•    To attend and or present at conferences/seminars at a local and national level as required.
•    To undertake administrative tasks associated with the research project, including the planning and organisation of the project and the implementation of procedures required to ensure accurate and timely reporting.
•    To review and synthesise existing research literature within the field.
•    To participate in School research activities. 
•    To build and create networks both internally and externally to the University, to influence decisions,   explore future research requirements, and share research ideas for the benefit of research projects.

•    To engage effectively with industrial, commercial and public sector organisations, professional institutions, other academic institutions etc., regionally and nationally  to raise awareness of the School’s profile, to cultivate strategically valuable alliances, and to pursue opportunities for collaboration across a range of activities. These activities are expected to contribute to the School and the enhancement of its regional and national profile.
•    To undergo personal and professional development that is appropriate to and which will enhance performance.
•    To participate in School administration and activities to promote the School and its work to the wider University and the outside world.
•    Any other duties not included above, but consistent with the role.


Person Specification

Essential Criteria 

Qualifications and Education
1. Postgraduate degree at PhD level in a related subject area or equivalent.

Knowledge, Skills and Experience
2. An established expertise and proven portfolio of research and/or relevant industrial experience within Bioinformatics/Biostatistics, especially gene expression/functional genomics, and a good biological knowledge of neurodegenerative disease.

3. Experience in using R, UNIX/Linux and/or Python scripting and in the manipulation and analysis of large biological datasets in different data formats.

4. Proven ability to publish in national journals and high-impact conferences.

5. Knowledge and understanding of competitive research funding to be able to develop applications to funding bodies.

Communication and Team Working
6. Proven ability in effective and persuasive communication.

7. Ability to supervise the work of others to focus team efforts and motivate individuals.

8. Proven ability to demonstrate creativity, innovation and team-working within work.

Desirable Criteria 

1. Expertise in single cell informatics analyses.

2. Evidence of collaborations with industry.

3. Proven ability to adapt to the changing requirements of the Higher Education community. 

4.    Evidence of ability to participate in and develop both internal and external networks and utilise them to enhance the research activities of the School. 

Additional Information

This project is focussed on delivering a deeper understanding of human pain disorders. As a funded collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), we will be creating cellular atlases of pain-relevant CNS tissues and intersecting the gene expression profiles of individual cell types with pain-relevant risk genetics to identify the cell-type-specific gene networks for therapeutic targeting. Thus, the project will combine bioinformatics, functional genomics and statistical genetics to achieve its research goals. The post-doctoral research associate working on this project will strengthen the academic team and will also provide them with the opportunity for career development in genomics and bioinformatics through presentation of results at national and international level conferences, networking and publications