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Research Associate (Postdoc) in Somatic Evolution and Cancer Risk Prediction Using Longitudinal Genomic Data (Fixed Term)

University of Cambridge - Department of Oncology

Location: Cambridge
Salary: £33,309 to £40,927 p.a.
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 5th August 2022
Closes: 5th September 2022
Job Ref: RD32581

Overview. The Blundell lab at the University of Cambridge is seeking a candidate for a postdoctoral position in blood cancer risk prediction. This is part of a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship project on "forecasting" blood cancer risk from sequencing of longitudinal blood samples collected pre-diagnosis. We are an interdisciplinary group focused on applying mathematical, evolutionary and statistical approaches to understand the behaviour of mutant clones that expand in our tissues as we age and how these impact cancer risk. We generate and analyse DNA sequencing data sets from longitudinal samples collected over decades from the same individual to build predictive models of cancer risk.

Project. Our overall research aim is to improve blood cancer risk prediction. As we age, we acquire mutations in our blood cells and if these mutations confer a Darwinian fitness effect to the affected blood cells, then these cells will increase in frequency in the blood. This phenomenon is termed clonal haematopoiesis and it is known to increase the risk of blood cancer development (e.g. Acute Myeloid Leukaemia), although identifying who is most at risk remains difficult. If we can quantify the fitness effect of individual mutations and their combinations, we can improve personalised blood cancer risk stratification. Using data from large publicly available studies and complemented using longitudinal data generated in the lab, we will attempt to answer the following questions:

  • Can we characterise the fitness effects of rare, yet highly pathogenic somatic pre-leukemic mutations in the blood?
  • How can we combine information on age, somatic mutations, epigenetic changes, clone sizes, fitness effects, combinations of mutations to quantitatively predict future cancer risk?

Candidate. Candidates should have a (or shortly receive) PhD in genomics, quantitative biology, physics or mathematics, an excellent research record and an interest in biological problems. Experience with genomic datasets is essential as is experience programming in Python or R.

Lab and environment. The Blundell lab is part of the Early Cancer Institute in the Department of Oncology at the University of Cambridge. We are embedded in the CRUK Cambridge Centre. More information on the lab can be found at www.blundelllab.com

Enquiries. Informal enquiries should be directed to Jamie Blundell via e-mail: jrb75@cam.ac.uk.

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