Vacancy Details: Post Doctoral Researchers

To apply for this job

  • Either
    • Download, Save and Complete a copy of the application form using Microsoft Word
    • Prepare a copy of your CV that contains all the information requested in the application form
  • Submit your application document (single file in word or acrobat format) together with your Personal details, Referees and Equal Opportunities Monitoring data

John Innes Centre

JIC is an independent, international centre of excellence in plant science and microbiology. Our mission is to carry out fundamental and strategic research, to train scientists and to make our findings available to society.

The scientific research at the Centre makes use of a wide range of disciplines in the biological and chemical sciences, including cell biology, biochemistry, chemistry, genetics and molecular biology.

The John Innes Centre prides itself on being a welcoming and inclusive working environment for all. We have a diverse and multicultural scientific community and thrive on our European and international links. The John Innes Centre is proud to hold a prestigious Athena SWAN Gold award, recognising the impact of our work in promoting gender equality in science. For more information, go to We are also a proud member of the Stonewall Diversity Champion’s programme and, as a Disability Confident employer, guarantee to offer an interview to all disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for the post.

The John Innes Centre is a registered charity (No. 223852), limited by guarantee (registered in England No. 511709) and is an Equal Opportunities Employer.

Athena Swan

disability confident employer

   Stonewall Diversity Champion

Advancing gender equality in science, engineering and technology.

Post Number1003336
Job TitlePost Doctoral Researchers
Starting Salary£31,250 - £38,100
Hours per week 37
Project Title Modelling analogue transcriptional regulation and DNA methylation dynamics
Expected/Ideal Start Date 01 Jan 2018
Months Duration 36
Main purpose of the job The main purpose of the first postdoctoral position is to develop mathematical models of analogue transcriptional dynamics and its potential regulation by antisense transcription. The main purpose of the second position is to develop models of DNA methylation dynamics. Predictions from these models will then be iteratively tested in the labs of Caroline Dean and Daniel Zilberman, respectively.
Department Computational and Systems Biology
The Department of Computational and Systems Biology conducts leading research across a broad range of the biological sciences, with a special focus on spatial problems in plant and microbial research. Particular strengths of the department include mathematical and statistical modelling of the physical mechanisms underlying biological pattern formation and comparative genomics. In addition, the department has strong bioinformatics that underpins the research of the institute through training, software development and statistical analysis.
Whilst much of the research is carried out in close collaboration with world-leading experimental groups within the John Innes Centre, we have strong international collaborations with experimentalists and theoreticians worldwide.
Group Details The Howard group mathematically models biological systems at the cellular level. Our approach is to construct simple models that can nevertheless make surprising and counter-intuitive predictions to be tested experimentally. The group's approach is highly interdisciplinary, and relies heavily on techniques from statistical physics and applied mathematics as well as on close collaboration with experimental groups both at the John Innes Centre and elsewhere. An emerging focus within the group is the use of analogue versus digital control in biology. Specific recent topics for research have included digital epigenetic dynamics, analogue arithmetic division in metabolism, cell size control and low copy number plasmid segregation. Currently there are three postdoctoral researchers in the group.
Advert Text Applications are invited for two Postdoctoral Researchers to join the group of Prof Martin Howard in the Department of Computational and Systems Biology at the John Innes Centre (JIC).


The Howard group mathematically models biological systems at the cellular level. Our approach is to construct simple models that can nevertheless make surprising and counter-intuitive predictions to be tested experimentally. The group's approach is highly interdisciplinary, and relies extensively on techniques from statistical physics and applied mathematics, as well as on close collaboration with experimental groups. The group regularly publishes in the most prominent multidisciplinary journals, with recent papers in Science, Cell Systems, eLife and PNAS.

Several previous members of the Howard group now hold independent faculty positions of their own, including in Amsterdam, Singapore, Munich and Oxford.

The roles:

The aim of the first project is to use mathematical modelling to understand quantitative transcriptional regulation in cases controlled by antisense transcription. These efforts will be focused on an environmentally controlled gene FLC, which is already known to be antisense regulated. The successful candidate will aim to understand how antisense-mediated regulation can control FLC expression in warm temperature conditions in a fundamentally analogue way, where expression can be tuned up or down like a molecular dimmer switch.

The second position focuses on the dynamics of DNA methylation, a key epigenetic regulator of gene expression. The successful candidate will work on a project supported by the European Research Council to achieve a quantitative understanding of how nucleosomes, linker histones, and other chromatin components influence the accurate inheritance of DNA methylation patterns. The project aims to predict the existence and function of new factors that regulate DNA methylation maintenance.

In both cases, approaches will include spatiotemporal stochastic modelling, as well as analytic calculations. State of the art, single cell experimental data will be available from our collaborators to help develop and parameterise the models. Both projects will give the successful candidates an opportunity to work on fundamental biological processes in a truly interdisciplinary environment, with seamless collaboration with experimentalists.

The ideal candidates:

The ideal candidates will possess a PhD in Theoretical Physics, Bio-Mathematics or Computational Biology. They will possess a strong interest in biological problems and have achieved demonstrable scientific success in previous roles. Prior experience of biological modelling is desirable but not essential.

Additional information:

Salary on appointment will be within the range £31,250 to £38,100 per annum depending on qualifications and experience. Both posts are full time and for a period of 3 years.

For further information and details of how to apply, please visit our web site or contact the Human Resources team on 01603 450462 or quoting reference 1003336.

As a Disability Confident employer, we guarantee to offer an interview to all disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for this vacancy. The John Innes Centre is also proud to hold a Silver Award from Athena SWAN and is a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme.

Shortlisting will begin on Friday 13th October but applications will continue to be accepted until the positions are filled.
Key relationships Other members of the Howard, Dean and Zilberman groups and also potentially other experimental collaborators both within and outside JIC.
Main Activities & ResponsibilitiesPercentage
Identify, plan, carry out and modify modelling to meet the objectives of the project40
Prepare results, reports and manuscripts for publication in leading scientific journals and other relevant media15
Disseminate research findings through presentations to various audiences at internal, national and international meetings15
Ensure research and record keeping is carried out in accordance with good practice, Scientific Integrity and in compliance with local policies and any legal requirements10
Contribute to the smooth running of the group, including the effective use of resources, supervision of visitors to the laboratory and assisting with training others, encouraging scientific excellence 10
Continually strive for excellence, seeking out and acting on feedback and relevant learning and development opportunities5
As agreed with the line manager, any other duties commensurate with the nature of the post, for example, contributing to the work of Institute committees5

Education & QualificationsRequirementImportance
PhD (full award or expected within 6 months) in Theoretical Physics/Bio-Mathematics/Computational BiologyEssential
BSc or equivalent in a relevant scientific fieldEssential

Specialist Knowledge & SkillsRequirementImportance
Ability to apply techniques from theoretical physics/applied mathematics to biological problemsEssential
Strong interest in biological problemsEssential
Computer programming experience (e.g. use of computational tools such as MatLab)Desirable

Relevant ExperienceRequirementImportance
Demonstrable scientific success, with track-record of publications and presentationsEssential
Proven record in scientific writingEssential
Prior experience in biological modellingDesirable

Interpersonal & Communication SkillsRequirementImportance
Self-motivated, creative and intellectually independentEssential
Good verbal and written communication skills, facilitating interaction with experimentalistsEssential
Ability to collaborate with internal and external stakeholdersEssential
Excellent time management and organisational skillsEssential
Promotes and strives for continuous improvementEssential
Good interpersonal skills, with the ability to work as part of a teamEssential

Additional RequirementsRequirementImportance
Promotes equality and values diversityEssential
Ability to maintain confidentiality and security of information where appropriate Essential
Available to travel to international meetings and for short visits to collaborating laboratories abroadEssential
Occasional work hours extending to evenings and weekendsEssential

Untitled Document