Senior Postdoctoral Researcher

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John Innes Centre

The John Innes Centre is an independent, international centre of excellence in plant science and microbiology, carrying out fundamental and strategic research, to train scientists and making our findings available to society.

Our research makes use of a wide range of disciplines in the biological and chemical sciences including; cell biology, biochemistry, chemistry, genetics and molecular biology.

We pride ourselves 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. We are proud to hold a prestigious Athena SWAN Gold award, recognising the impact of our work in promoting gender equality in science. 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.

Post Details

Job Title
Senior Postdoctoral Researcher
Post Number
Closing Date
10 Dec 2018
Starting Salary
£31,250 - £47,850
Hours per week
Project Title
R-loop coupled chromatin silencing
Expected/Ideal Start Date
03 Dec 2018
Months Duration

Main Purpose of the Job

Independently drive forward a research project focused on one functionally important R-loop and exploit the FLC genetically tractable system to develop deep mechanistic understanding into R-loop regulation and function. The postholder will work partly at LMB, Cambridge and partly at JIC, Norwich.

Candidates with substantial postdoctoral experience will be considered for the Senior Postdoctoral Researcher post, at grade SC5. Candidates at an earlier stage in their career will be considered for the Postdoctoral Researcher post, at grade SC6.


Cell & Developmental Biology

Development continues throughout the life of the plant. While many linear pathways affecting development have been discovered and are illustrated by elegant genetic studies, the challenge of the future will be for us to understand how these developmental pathways are integrated, both with themselves as well as with environmental signals, to enable a mature plant to grow from a seed.  Guided by evolutionary principles, the Department uses its knowledge of biological processes obtained in laboratory organisms such as Arabidopsis to understand processes in crop plants such as Brassicas and cereals.  To study this interaction of the plant genome with internal developmental networks and the environment, the Department uses a combination of genetic, cell biological, molecular and evolutionary strategies. The insights we are gaining provide both an increasingly detailed knowledge of the proteins involved in diverse regulatory mechanisms and a conceptual framework in which this knowledge can be related and eventually integrated into a molecular description of plant cell function.   The knowledge the department is creating is relevant to agriculture. Genes that control plant stature, form, over-wintering responses and growth are potentially useful for improving crop performance.

Group Details

The Caroline Dean group focuses on conserved mechanisms of epigenetic and co-transcriptional regulation, using the Arabidopsis FLC gene system. The work is closely aligned with that of the computational group of Prof. Martin Howard CSB, with several groups at MRC, LMB in Cambridge and with collaborators at the University of Oxford.

Advert Text

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Researcher to join a collaborative project on R-loop function in histone modification inheritance. They will work for the first ~ one year with Dr Julian Sale at MRC LMB, Cambridge and then relocate to the Dean Laboratory at the John Innes Centre, Norwich.

Candidates with substantial postdoctoral experience will be considered for the Senior Postdoctoral Researcher post, at grade SC5. Candidates at an earlier stage in their career will be considered for the Postdoctoral Researcher post, at grade SC6.

The role

The post-holder will independently drive forward a research project analysing the role of a specific R-loop sequence at the Arabidopsis FLC gene in transcription-replication stalling. They will define the important chromatin/RNA structures in mammalian DT40 cells and then transfer this understanding to the plant system. The post-holder will also help manage other related projects in the Dean Lab. They will represent Professor Dean at international meetings and work closely with collaborators from the University of Oxford.

The ideal candidate

Candidates should possess a PhD in Molecular Biology (SC5 and SC6) and previous experience of successful scientific management (SC5). The successful candidate will be passionate about their science and have excellent interpersonal and communication skills, as well as experience of delivering scientific presentations and seminars. To be considered for this post, candidates should have good knowledge of R-loop biology/chromatin structures (SC5), co-transcriptional regulation and ideally have some experience with imaging.

Additional information

Appointments made at Postdoctoral Researcher level (SC6) will attract an annual salary of £31,250 - £38,100. Appointments made at Senior Postdoctoral Researcher level (SC5) will attract an annual salary of £39,150 - £47,850. Salaries are dependent on qualifications and experience.

This is a fulltime post for a period of 3 years in the first instance.

To apply, please visit our web site For further information please contact the Human Resources team on 01603 450462 or quoting reference 1003569. Informal enquiries can be made to Caroline Dean at

We are an equal opportunities employer, actively supporting inclusivity and diversity. As a Disability Confident organisation, 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 Gold Award from Athena SWAN and is a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme.

Key Relationships

The post-holder will report to C Dean and co-manage with C Dean the other three post-docs funded by the Wellcome Trust grant.

Main Activities & Responsibilities

Undertake an independent research project investigating R-loops in chromatin regulation. The post-holder will extend our understanding of this important area by undertaking a detailed mechanistic analysis of one R-loop at the Arabidopsis FLC gene. They will initially work with Dr Julian Sale at LMB, Cambridge analysing FLC R-loop sequences in a mammalian system designed to study replisome stalling (For the first twelve months of the period). They will subsequently transfer this understanding into the plant system, exploring both antisense and sense strands. They will complement this by working closely with other post-docs in the lab who are determining R-loop structure in vivo. This is a collaboration with Dr Yiliang Ding (John Innes Centre). The post-holder will also work closely with collaborators at the University of Oxford to visualize the antisense transcipts R-loop in vivo, ideally using live imaging. The goal will be to understand R-loop structure and dynamics in different cells of the organism and at different stages of the cell cycle.
Day to day management of all the other individual Wellcome Trust - funded post-docs in Norwich. Be fully up to speed with all relevant literature. Proactively organise scientific lab activities, organise all lab information and precipitate social outings. Be the first port of call for day to day lab issues. As agreed with line manager, any other duties commensurate with the nature of the post.
Represent C Dean at international meetings and liaise with collaborators in labs around the world

Education & Qualifications

PhD in Molecular Biology
BSc Hons, or equivalent, in Biological Sciences

Specialist Knowledge & Skills

Nucleic acid biochemistry/R-loop biology/chromatin structures (desirable for SC6 post)
Co-transcriptional regulation (desirable for SC6 post)
Imaging expertise

Relevant Experience

Experience in the following: chromatin immunoprecipitation, nucleic acid biochemistry
Successful scientific management (desirable for SC6 post)
Delivering scientific presentations and seminars
Previous experience of working in an internationally competitive lab
Experience of supervising, training and mentoring visitors and students (desirable for SC6 post)

Interpersonal & Communication Skills

Excellent communication skills, both written and oral, including the ability to present complex information with clarity
Ability to collaborate with internal and external stakeholders (desirable for SC6 post)
Promotes and strives for continuous improvement
Good interpersonal skills and passionate about their science, with the ability to work as part of a team
Demonstrated ability to work independently, using initiative and applying problem solving skills
Excellent time management and organisational skills

Additional Requirements

Promotes equality and values diversity
Willingness to embrace the expected values and behaviours of all staff at the Institute, ensuring it is a great place to work
Able to present a positive image of self and the Institute, promoting both the international reputation and public engagement aims of the Institute
Ability to maintain confidentiality and security of information where appropriate
Willingness to work outside standard working hours when required
Ability to undertake occasional travel (national and international) related to collaborations and/or seminars
Attention to detail