Genetic Analysis Team Leader

Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute - Biological Sciences

3 years fixed term

The success of GWAS studies in the last ten years has fundamentally changed our understanding of the genetic basis of complex diseases. Despite this progress, almost none of these discoveries have been translated into detailed causal mechanisms that can be prosecuted as targets for new therapies. Open Targets ( is a public-private initiative to dramatically accelerate this process, and enable the systematic identification and prioritisation of targets. We combine large-scale genomic experiments with objective statistical and computational techniques to identify and validate the causal links between targets, pathways and diseases. We accelerate and enable research and innovation by making the evidence open and accessible to all.

We are now seeking an ambitious scientist to build the team to systematically move from GWAS hits to molecular mechanisms. We will aggregate (together with the GWAS Catalog team at EMBL-EBI) large-scale GWAS meta-analyses from consortia across a wide range of traits and diseases. The team leader will then work with other Open Targets teams from both Sanger and EBI to develop and apply summary statistic fine-mapping methods to prioritise likely causal variants, and then to incorporate cell-specific epigenomic and expression data to identify causal genes and regulatory mechanisms. The outputs of this project will be shared openly via the target validation platform (, and opportunities will be available for directed follow-up with our commercial partners.

This role presents an opportunity to work with scientists at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and EMBL European Bioinformatics Institute on a problem of central importance in complex disease genetics. We also believe that cracking it requires working together, so we are seeking someone who shares our commitment to collaborate with other leading scientists from around the world, both in academia and industry.

Essential Skills

  • PhD in genomics, computer science, biology, statistics or similar.
  • Extensive experience in analysis of complex disease genetics
  • Independence and motivation, a self-starter and problem-solver
  • Good scripting/programming skills
  • Firm grounding in statistical analysis methods for genetic and genomic data
  • Strong publication record in genomics research, including first author papers of scientific importance
  • Demonstrated experience in large scale projects
  • Attention to detail and ability to work to tight timelines;
  • Ability to communicate effectively with collaborators both internally and externally, and to demonstrate scientific leadership

Ideal Skills

  • Familiarity with modern data storage technologies (e.g. NoSQL, HDF5, etc)
  • Experience/interest in target validation and translational research
  • Experience in functional genomics data analysis (RNAseq, ChIPseq, etc)

Other information

Open Targets is a recently established pioneering public-private initiative between GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), EMBL-EBI (European Bioinformatics Institute) and the WTSI (Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute), located on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus in Hinxton, near Cambridge, UK. OpenTargets aims to generate evidence on the biological validity of therapeutic targets and provide an initial assessment of the likely effectiveness of pharmacological intervention on these targets, using genome-scale experiments and analysis. OpenTargets aims to provide an R&D framework that applies to all aspects of human disease, and to share its data openly with the scientific community.

Please include a covering letter and CV with your application.

Closing date for applications: 28th October 2016, however applications will be considered and reviewed on an on-going basis and therefore the post may be filled before the deadline.