Research Associate

University of Cambridge

We have a postdoctoral position available in the laboratory of Dr Jamie Blundell in the Department of Oncology at the University of Cambridge. This post is funded by the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre.

We are looking for a quantitatively-minded researcher interested in modelling and analysing data relating to the dynamics of somatic variants in healthy and precancerous tissues. The successful candidate should have a PhD (or equivalent) in the biological or physical sciences, a strong background in mathematical modelling, genomic data analysis, and excellent communication skills.

The Blundell lab's research interests lie in quantitatively understanding the evolutionary dynamics of precancerous lesions and their progression to malignancy. To do this we generate and analyse large-scale longitudinal genomic datasets from healthy people (some of whom go onto develop cancer) in order to understand which genomic signatures are indicative of early cancer onset. Our main focus is on tissues that can be sampled longitudinally through time such as blood, skin and oesophagus. Despite a large amount being known about the genomic alterations associated with particular cancers, detection of cancer-associated genetic alterations in healthy tissues has woefully low power to predict who will go on to develop a malignancy. To improve the predictive power of such genomic tests, longitudinal data and quantitative methods borrowed from statistical physics must be leveraged to rationally identify which mutant clones in a tissue are likely to progress to cancer.

The post will involve developing quantitative models (both simulations and theory) of mutation dynamics in rapidly cycling tissues with an emphasis on discovering statistical signatures of tissue maintenance going awry. Predictions from these models will be checked against longitudinal deep sequencing data sets generated in the lab. This project thus requires a close combination of modelling and data analysis and will entail interacting closely with experimental colleagues.

The Blundell lab is part of the Early Detection Programme of the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre at the University of Cambridge. An internationally recognised centre for cancer research, the Cancer Research UK Cambridge Centre is situated on Cambridge Biomedical Research Campus, with close ties to Addenbrooke's Hospital and a host of biotech companies. Our location affords our members ready access to human tissue samples, cancer models, state of the art sequencing facilities, and the opportunity to forge collaborations with world class physicists, engineers, biologists and clinicians.

Informal enquiries are strongly encouraged, and should be directed to Jamie Blundell at

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 3 years in the first instance.

Once an offer of employment has been accepted, the successful candidate will be required to undergo a health assessment and a security check.

To apply online for this vacancy, please click on the 'Apply' button below. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

Please ensure that you upload a covering letter and CV in the Upload section of the online application. If you upload any additional documents which have not been requested, we will not be able to consider these as part of your application.

Please include details of your referees, including email address and phone number, one of which must be your most recent line manager.

Closing date for applications is the 19th September 2017, with interviews yet to be confirmed by the department.

Please quote reference RD12788 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

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