Project Research Scientist in Cancer Genetics

The Francis Crick Institute
Competitive with benefits, subject to skills and experience
06 Sep 2017
04 Oct 2017
Contract Type
Full Time


We seek a versatile, talented and highly motivated postdoctoral researcher to join Francesca Ciccarelli's Cancer Systems Biology team at the Francis Crick Institute. The group is currently seconded to work in the Crick laboratory as part of the scientific partnership between King's College London and the Francis Crick Institute. We are a multidisciplinary team of computer scientists, basic researchers and clinical fellows and we use a combination of computational and we-lab approaches to elucidate the role of genetic modifications in the onset and progression of cancer. Our main focus is gastrointestinal cancer although we also complement our analyses with molecular data from other cancer types.


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Dr Ciccarelli's laboratory studies cancer genetic modifications using systems biology and aiming to (1) identify novel and patient-specific cancer genes; (2) predict the onset of somatic dependencies and vulnerabilities that can be exploited in therapy; and (3) assess the role of clonal and sub-clonal mutations in cancer evolution. Details of research projects currently being undertaken can be seen at:

This research project is a collaboration with the Target Selection Team at AstraZeneca UK (Head: Dr Paul Smith) and aims to discover and experimentally validate gene synthetic dependencies that can be exploited to develop novel treatments for cancer. Dr Ciccarelli's team developed a computational pipeline to identify synthetic dependencies between cancer-specific gene losses and their functional compensators. Using this method, we have successfully proven synthetic dependencies of known tumour suppressors SMARCA4, CDH1, DNMT3A and STAG2 (D'Antonio Cell Reports 2013; Benedetti Oncotargets 2017). This project aims to refine the selection of novel synthetic dependencies and prioritise those with the higher potential of being therapeutically relevant for cancer. The initial focus will be on colorectal cancer with the possibility of validating the predicted dependencies also in patient-derived cancer cells.


The Francis Crick Institute is a biomedical discovery institute dedicated to understanding the fundamental biology underlying health and disease. Its work is helping to understand why disease develops and to translate discoveries into new ways to prevent, diagnose and treat illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, stroke, infections, and neurodegenerative diseases.

An independent organisation, its founding partners are the Medical Research Council (MRC), Cancer Research UK, Wellcome, UCL (University College London), Imperial College London and King's College London.

The Crick was formed in 2015, and in 2016 it moved into a brand new state-of-the-art building in central London which brings together 1500 scientists and support staff working collaboratively across disciplines, making it the biggest biomedical research facility under a single roof in Europe.

The Francis Crick Institute will be world-class with a strong national role. Its distinctive vision for excellence includes commitments to collaboration; to developing emerging talent and exporting it the rest of the UK; to public engagement; and to helping turn discoveries into treatments as quickly as possible to improve lives and strengthen the economy.


The post holder should embody and demonstrate our core Crick values: Bold, Imaginative, Open, Dynamic and Collegial, in addition to the following:

We seek a highly motivated scientist, able to work in a multidisciplinary team and with a vast experience in molecular and cellular biology. The work will involve the refinement of gene selection and the validation of predicted synthetic dependencies using a vast range of experimental techniques (gene editing, RNA interference, drug screening) in established and primary cancer cell lines. Solid experience in cell and molecular biology is mandatory. The post holder will also be actively involved in the selection of the best candidates to follow up in the lab. A good understanding of cancer genetics and the ability to work in a multidisciplinary team is essential.


  • PhD in molecular and cell biology, cancer genetics or equivalent
  • Good knowledge and solid experience in cancer genetics
  • Technical expertise in molecular and cell biology
  • Track record of writing papers as evidenced by publications or submitted manuscripts in referred journals
  • Evidence of data presentation at scientific meetings
  • Experience of experimental design
  • Ability to work independently and also capable of interacting within a group


  • Experience in genomic data analysis
  • Familiarity with computer coding (R, Python)

Project Research Scientists are expected to lead their own projects, contribute to other projects on a collaborative basis (both in the lab and with external collaborators) and guide PhD students in their research. The ability to work in a team is essential.