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Ontology Project Lead/Coordinator

European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL)

About the team/job

You will join the Samples Phenotype & Ontologies Team (SPOT) to provide leadership for internal EMBL-EBI and external collaborative projects involving ontology development. The team delivers large data resource projects, for example the Genome Wide Associations Studies Catalog and the Polygenic Score Catalog, as well as semantic tools and works across a range of biomedical disciplines including GWAS, high throughput phenotyping, single cell projects and neuroscience. Experience in any of these fields is welcome.  You will join a dynamic, friendly and international team of ~25 people with expertise in biomedicine, ontologists, programmers, data scientists, project managers and bioinformaticians.

The team is part of multiple international collaborative projects including Human Cell Annotation Platform, the Brain Data Standards Initiative, Fly Cell Atlas, The Monarch Initiative and Phenomics First, Open Targets and others.

Appointment is expected to be as Ontology Project Lead (Grade 7). However, an appointment may be made as Ontology Coordinator (Grade 8) with additional duties/responsibilities and depending on skills, qualifications and experience. 

Your role

Grade 7 Ontology Project Lead Role will:

  • Contribute to the ontology development roadmaps in collaboration with the team leader and team members
  • Perform ontology development and where needed supervise the ontology editors and programmers involved in ontology production
  • Lead the agile development processes for the ontology development team
  • Take responsibility for delivery of ontology releases
  • Work closely with the Project Lead for semantic services ensuring roadmaps and requirements align 
  • Work with our collaborators to elicit their requirements, for example,  by providing infrastructure and pipelines for ontology integration, and semantically enhanced search, query, and visualisation.
  • Set milestones, and track progress of tasks, draft deliverables and formal progress reports related to milestones
  • You will meet with groups in EMBL-EBI who use the ontologies and semantic tools developed by the team, to determine how best to meet their needs to enable resource and project delivery for big data project
  • Represent the team at external meetings and in external collaborations

An appointment at Ontology Coordinator (Grade 8) may be considered if suitable, and this would come with additional responsibilities: 

    • Lead the development and implementation of the ontology and ontology tools roadmap
    • Manage the ontology editors and programmers involved in ontology production performing appraisals, identifying training needs and assigning work
    • Collaboration with the Semantics as a Service Project Lead delivering ontology tools to identify improvements to these
    • Identify new international collaborative opportunities
    • Contribute to the the development of new funding opportunities
    • Identify new internal collaborations within EMBL, for example, across EMBL’s Transversal Themes (

You have

As Ontology Project lead you have:

  • A PhD in Biological Sciences or Bioinformatics demonstrating a broad understanding of biomedical sciences
  • Ideally at least five years experience of ontology development (in OWL)
  • Experience with schema development for biomedical resources   
  • Software development/Scripting experience gained in a biomedical environment ideally in Python
  • Grant writing and/or grant reporting for NIH, EC or UK funders
  • Experience working within a production environment gained in academia or industry     
  • Experience of standard development practices – VC, testing (via CI), modular development, dependency management
  • Practical  Agile development practices and practical experience of defining user stories and communicating these to the developer team
  • Project management experience
  • Line management experience
  • An understanding of quantitative analysis techniques used by collaborators, for example, omics and/or imaging
  • The ability to:
    • write clearly, following scientific writing conventions.
    • communicate with and understand the needs of biologists & clinicians.
  • Able to work both as part of a team and independently
  • Able to work to strict delivery deadlines
  • Able to travel to collaboration meetings and conferences when required

As an Ontology Coordinator (Grade 8), you will in addition have significantly greater relevant practical experience including:

  • Development of strategic plans, have worked at an influential level in multi-disciplinary collaborations and have significant
  • Experience managing and leading staff with diverse backgrounds 

You might also have

  • A higher degree in computer science/informatics
  • Experience with Neo4j/Cypher
  • Basic competency in statistical analysis
  • An understanding of Machine Learning application to biomedical data
  • Experience with single cell biology and/or data analysis
  • Experience with leveraging ontologies and ontology annotation for data analysis
  • Experience with clinical data and/or patient records
  • Experience in a service environment gained in academia or industry
  • Experience in managing multidisciplinary teams and matrix working across institutes
  • Experience of NIH and EC projects 

Why join us

Do something meaningful

At EMBL-EBI you can apply your talent and passion to accelerate science and tackle some of humankind's greatest challenges. EMBL-EBI, part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, is a worldwide leader in the storage, analysis and dissemination of large biological datasets. We provide the global research community with access to publicly available databases and tools which are crucial for the advancement of healthcare, food security, and biodiversity.

Join a culture of innovation

We are located on the Wellcome Genome Campus, alongside other prominent research and biotech organisations, and surrounded by beautiful Cambridgeshire countryside. This is a highly collaborative and inclusive community where our employees enjoy a relaxed atmosphere. We are committed to ensuring our employees feel valued, supported and empowered to reach their professional potential. 

Enjoy lots of benefits:

  • Financial incentives: Monthly family, child and non-resident allowances, annual salary review, pension scheme, death benefit, long-term care, accident-at-work and unemployment insurances
  • Flexible working arrangements
  • Private medical insurance for you and your immediate family (including all prescriptions and generous dental & optical cover)
  • Generous time off: 30 days annual leave per year, in addition to eight bank holidays
  • Relocation package including installation grant (if required)
  • Campus life: Free shuttle bus to and from work, on-site library, subsidised on-site gym and cafeteria, casual dress code, extensive sports and social club activities (on campus and remotely)
  • Family benefits: On-site nursery, 10 days of child sick leave, generous parental leave, holiday clubs on campus and monthly family and child allowances
  • Benefits for non-UK residents: Visa exemption, education grant for private schooling, financial support to travel back to your home country every second year and a monthly non-resident allowance.

For more details please see our employee benefits page

What else you need to know

  • Contract duration: This position is a 3 year contract, funded by grant. Funding dependent, there may be a possibility for renewal for up to 9 years. 
  • International applicants: We recruit internationally and successful candidates are offered visa exemptions. Read more on our page for international applicants
  • Diversity and inclusion: At EMBL-EBI, we strongly believe that inclusive and diverse teams benefit from higher levels of innovation and creative thought. We encourage applications from women, LGBTQ+ and individuals from all nationalities. 
  • Job location: This role is based in Hinxton, near Cambridge, UK. You will be required to relocate if you are based overseas and you will receive a generous relocation package to support you. 
  • How to apply: To apply please submit a cover letter and a CV through our online system. We aim to provide a response within two weeks after the closing date.
  • EMBL is a signatory of DORA. Find out how we apply DORA principles to our recruitment and performance assessment processes here

To apply, click the 'Apply' button

Location: Hinxton
Salary: £3,670 to £4,210 monthly salary after tax, plus benefits, depending on experience, Grade 7 or 8
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 12th January 2023
Closes: 5th February 2023
Job Ref: EBI02106
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