Postdoctoral Researcher
Post Details
Job Title
Postdoctoral Researcher
Post Number
Closing Date
29 Oct 2019
Starting Salary
£31,625 - £38,575
Hours per week
Project Title
Toward machine learning-driven prediction of the product chemical space of oxidosqualene cyclases, key enzymes in triterpene diversification
Expected/Ideal Start Date
01 Dec 2019
Months Duration
Interview Date
08 Nov 2019

Job Description

Main Purpose of the Job

The purpose of this job is to model biosynthetic gene cluster formation. This post will require extensive experience of computational biology and genetics.

Key Relationships

The post holder will be line managed by Professor Anne Osbourn

Main Activities & Responsibilities

Investigate possibilities for machine learning in modeling and predicting the process of triterpene biosynthesis in plants formation
Prepare results, reports and manuscripts for publication in leading scientific journals and other relevant media
Ensure research and record keeping is carried out in accordance with good practice, Scientific Integrity and in compliance with local policies and any legal requirements
Continually strive for excellence, seeking out and acting on feedback and relevant learning and development opportunities
As agreed with line manager, any other duties commensurate with the nature of the role

Person Profile

Education & Qualifications

PhD in chemistry, biochemistry, machine learning or a related discipline

Specialist Knowledge & Skills

In-depth knowledge of chemistry, computational chemistry, enzymology
Proficiency in one, or more, programming language (e.g. Python, C++)
Familiarity with machine learning toolkits and deep learning libraries
Good knowledge of machine learning, statistics, computer science

Relevant Experience

Demonstrated ability to perform research and develop novel ideas
Proven record in scientific writing
Experience with Linux and version control tools such as Git

Interpersonal & Communication Skills

Excellent communication skills, both written and oral, including the ability to present complex information with clarity
Demonstrated ability to work independently, using initiative and applying problem solving skills
Excellent time management and organisational skills
Ability to follow instructions/Standard Operating Procedures
Promotes and strives for continuous improvement
Good interpersonal skills, with the ability to work well as part of a team

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

Who We Are

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.

For more information about working at the John Innes Centre, please click here.

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, appointing staff from across the world. We expect this to continue post Brexit. However, any candidate who would like further information on current or anticipated immigration requirements can contact the HR Team on +44 (0)1603 450888 or

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, a founding signatory of the Tecnician Commitment 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).


Metabolic Biology

The aims of research in the Department of Metabolic Biology are to understand the basis of diversity in plant metabolism, and the interplay between metabolism and plant nutrition, development and responses to disease and stress. This information underpins the development of sustainable agriculture and bio-based industries.

Group Details

The Postdoctoral Researcher appointed to this position will be based in the Department of Metabolic Biology at the John Innes Centre in the laboratory of Professor Anne Osbourn and will join a multidisciplinary team working on discovery, elucidation and reconstitution of pathways for the biosynthesis of agriculturally and medicinally important plant natural products. The project is a close collaboration between the Osbourn lab and the group of Brooks Paige at the Alan Turing Institute. The Postdoctoral Researcher will spend approximately 10-15% of the time working in Dr Paige's lab and there will be regular meetings and discussions between the two labs throughout the course of the project.


Advert Text

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Researcher to join a collaborative project between the laboratories of Professor Anne Osbourn (John Innes Centre) and Dr Brooks Paige (Alan Turing Institute).

The role:

The Postdoctoral Researcher will be based at the John Innes Centre but will also spend 10-15% of their time in Dr Paige's lab, and there will be regular and close communication between the two labs. 

The successful candidate will join a multidisciplinary team working on plant natural products - biosynthesis, function, and mechanisms of metabolic diversification. They will investigate and evaluate methods for machine-learning-driven prediction of the product chemical space of oxidosqualene cyclases, a fascinating superfamily of enzymes responsible for the biosynthesis of diverse triterpene scaffolds.

The ideal candidate:

The successful applicant will have a PhD in chemistry, biochemistry or a related discipline, which includes a substantial quantitative component involving machine learning, computational statistics, or data science methods. Applicants with a PhD in machine learning or a related discipline, with a strong background in chemistry or biochemistry are also encouraged to apply. Strong proficiency in one or more programming languages is required, and in particular familiarity with scientific computing in languages such as Python (using libraries like Numpy and Scipy), MATLAB, C++, or similar is highly desirable.  Familiarity with machine learning toolkits (e.g. scikit-learn) and deep learning libraries (e.g. Pytorch or TensorFlow) is desirable.  Experience with Linux and version control tools such as Git would be advantageous. 

Additional information:

Salary on appointment will be within the range £31,625 to £38,575 per annum depending on qualifications and experience.  This is a fulltime post for a period of 12 months.

Interviews will be held on 8th November 2019.

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.