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Postdoctoral Research Associate: Computational analyses of dengue virus evolution

Postdoctoral Research Associate: Computational analyses of dengue virus evolution


SALARY:                                 £31,604-£38,833

REFERENCE:                           PF16210

FULL-TIME/PART-TIME         Full-time

CLOSING DATE:                     19 August 2018

We invite applications for a postdoctoral Research Associate position to join the Centre for Pathogen Evolution in the Department of Zoology, which is located in central Cambridge. The appointee will be working with Professor Derek Smith, Professor of Infectious Disease Informatics, CPE, and Dr. Leah Katzelnick, University of Florida/University of California, Berkeley California. It is funded up until 31 January 2020 with a likely extension of 18 months subject to availability of funds, and should start on 1st September 2018 or as soon as possible thereafter.

This research will be part of the NIH R01 project entitled "Linking antigenic and genetic variation of dengue to individual and population risk", in which a global collaboration of researchers is measuring the genetic and antigenic evolution of dengue viruses circulating in Thailand over a span of four decades. Our research is highly interdisciplinary and involves substantial interaction with experimental virologists Dr. Stephen Whitehead and Ana Coello Escoto at the National Institutes of Health, epidemiologists Prof. Derek Cummings at the University of Florida and Dr. Henrik Salje at Institut Pasteur, and Dr. Richard Jarman and Dr. Irena Maljkovic Berry at Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, as well as Dr. Louis Macareo and others at the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences, in Bangkok, Thailand.

The postdoctoral Research Associate will design and develop analytical, computational, and mathematical methods to understand the fundamental processes that govern the evolution of dengue viruses. In particular, research will focus on further refining and developing computational tools such as antigenic cartography and antibody landscapes to study the antigenic evolution of dengue viruses, and explore the role of antigenic diversity on protection against and risk of disease. A key element of the project will include basic theoretical work on antigenic cartography to explore fundamental assumptions of the method. This research position may also include conducting related phylogenetic and statistical analyses to understand the link between genetic and antigenic evolution. These studies will enable us to better understand the evolutionary dynamics of pathogens and to inform control strategies. The project position is funded by US government funding agency NIH, with initial funding up until 31 January 2020 and a probable extension of 18 months subject to availability of funds.

Knowledge, Skills and Experience for the Role:

  • PhD in an appropriate area completed (e.g. genetics, physics, virology/biology, statistics)
  • Excellent analytic, design, and scientific skills
  • Experience in R or Python
  • Ambition, drive, strong work ethic, and good interpersonal skills
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • The ability to organise time and work effectively, independently and responsibly in a research team setting
  • Enthusiasm to interact with colleagues in a multi-disciplinary and collaborative environment
  • The ability to engage in continuing professional development and to keep relevant specialist
knowledge up to date
  • Eagerness to participate in global collaborations--the research will require regular long-distance calls with collaborators and visits to collaborating sites
  • Ideally, some understanding of basic wet-laboratory cell culture techniques/virology

Duties and Responsibilities:

The responsibility of this position is to contribute to analysis and scientific understanding of pathogen evolution as a member of Professor Derek Smith’s research group within the Department of Zoology. The post holder will be expected to participate in the dissemination of research through publications and oral presentations both within the department and at conferences. The post holder may also be expected to advise, train, and co-supervise PhD students and other junior or visiting postdoctoral researchers within the group, and to periodically write reports for funding bodies and other supporting institutions.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available up until 31 January 2020, with a likely extension of 18 months subject to availability of funds.

To apply online please visit the University Job Opportunities website for this position, PF16210

Informal email enquiries regarding this position may be made to or to .

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Key Publications

Derek J. Smith, Alan S. Lapedes, et al, (2004). Mapping the Antigenic and Genetic Evolution of Influenza Virus Science 305(5682):371-376.

Colin A. Russell, Terry C. Jones, et al, (2008). The Global Circulation of Seasonal Influenza A (H3N2) Viruses Science 320(5874):340-346.

Björn F. Koel, David F. Burke, et al, (2013). Substitutions Near the Receptor Binding Site Determine Major Antigenic Change During Influenza Virus Evolution Science 342(6161):976-979.

J. M. Fonville, S. H. Wilks, et al, (2014). Antibody landscapes after influenza virus infection or vaccination Science 346(6212):996-1000

Colin A. Russell, Judith M. Fonville, et al, (2012). The Potential for Respiratory Droplet–Transmissible A/H5N1 Influenza Virus to Evolve in a Mammalian Host Science 336(6088):1541-1547