Postdoctoral Research Associate in Biomedical Data Science
The University of Edinburgh, MRC University Unit For Human Genetics
United Kingdom

We are looking for an enthusiastic, highly motivated Postdoctoral Fellow who will develop, implement and apply cutting-edge statistical machine learning methodology motivated by complex and heterogeneous types of biomedical data, such as electronic health records and high-dimensional genomics data. Experience in biomedical applications is not required, but you must have strong motivation to learn and to actively contribute to biomedical research. You must also have good programming skills, make reproducibility a central part of your research and be interested in the development of open-source software (e.g. R libraries) that can benefit the wider community.

This is a unique opportunity to undertake world-class data science research that is driven by concrete real-world problems. You will be embedded in a cross-disciplinary team within the IGMM, working at the interface between statistical and biomedical research.

The position is available on a fixed term basis for a 3-year period. Start date to be agreed with the successful applicant (no later than 1 May 2020). Applicants are encouraged to contact Catalina Vallejos ( for informal enquiries.


Main Responsibilities

• Conduct high quality research in statistics and machine learning, motivated and applied to complex types of biomedical data, such as large scale electronic health records and high-dimensional genomics data. This will involve exploratory analyses, model design/validation, visualisation of model outputs as well as the implementation into open-source R libraries (released through CRAN or Bioconductor). Assistance in supervision of more junior members of the team.

• Maintain accurate and up-to-date records to document the research progress and adopt good reproducibility practices (e.g. version control). Regular reporting of progress to the line manager and other stakeholders is expected. This includes participation and presentation of research findings at regular group/section meetings.

• Take a lead role in drafting data for dissemination and publication in peer-reviewed journals.

• Contribute to the dissemination of research findings by presenting at academic/professional conferences and at public engagement events.

• Continually update knowledge and understanding in the field, and update skill base within the defined research area.


Planning and Organising

The post-holder will plan and manage own programme of research activity on an ongoing basis, to ensure that the research is conducted in accordance with the research scope and timetable agreed with the line manager.


Problem Solving

The post-holder is expected to use accumulated experience and knowledge to overcome most practical difficulties. Serious non-standard issues will be immediately reported to the line manager for assistance. The post-holder will use creativity and initiative to identify and develop new research methods, and to diversify the research parameters. Use initiative to analyse and interpret research data, and draw conclusions from it. Use initiative to help other researchers in the team to resolve project problems and develop new techniques and methods, as appropriate.


Decision Making

Taken independently: Organise own workload according to priority and adapt as necessary, setting of short-term timelines, design set-up to address specific research aims.

In collaboration with others: Problem solving, data interpretation, experimental design, discussion of short-term research aims and potential new research strategies.

Referred to line manager: Overall timelines, changes of direction, response to serious and unexpected events, identification of the best way forward and interpretation of complex data (although input to these areas is expected).

Level of Direction Given: The line manager will offer general orientation and advice, in addition to support in development and implementation of research strategy. There will be a degree of independence appropriate to the post-holder’s experience.


Key Contacts/Relationships

Internal Catalina Vallejos (line manager), other members of the Biomedical Data Science research group, as well as other researchers in the IGMM and the School of Informatics.

External: Collaborating with researchers in Edinburgh and elsewhere as appropriate.

Knowledge, Skills and Experience Needed for the Job


¿ A PhD degree (or near completion) in statistics, machine learning or related disciplines, or equivalent professional experience in a field with significant use of both computer programming and advanced statistical machine learning methods.

¿ Motivation to succeed at cross-disciplinary research, particularly at the interface between statistical machine learning and biomedicine.

¿ Fluency in R programming.

¿ Ability to communicate complex information clearly, orally and in writing.

¿ Demonstrated ability to develop, deliver and publish high quality research.

¿ Ability to work as an independent researcher as well as in a team.


¿ Demonstrated ability to develop Bayesian methods (e.g. based on high-dimensional hierarchical models, Gaussian processes and/or time-to-event models), as well as to implement inference methods such as MCMC algorithms and variational Bayes.

¿ Demonstrated ability to proactively learn new subjects.

¿ Knowledge of other programming languages/tools, such as C++, Python, git.

¿ Experience in applied data science research, in academia, private industry or third sector.

¿ Proven independent working style, technical problem solving, data analysis and generation of novel ideas.


¿ Interacting with other members of the Vallejos research group

¿ Interacting with relevant stakeholders collaborators in Edinburgh and elsewhere

¿ Active participation in critical discussion at regular group, section, Institute and stakeholder meetings.

¿ Produce data for first author publications in high impact journals.

¿ Present data at appropriate national and international meetings.


Job Context and any other relevant information

The IGMM is an internationally leading multidisciplinary research institute investigating diverse aspects of human health and disease. The Institute integrates activities of three scientific centres - MRC Human Genetics Unit (HGU), Edinburgh Cancer Research UK Centre (ECRC) and the Centre for Genomic and Experimental Medicine (CGEM) that conduct research at basic, translational and clinical levels.

The post-holder will be part of a dynamic and enthusiastic internationally competitive group. You will be embedded in a supportive and cross-disciplinary environment and will be able to interact with a wide range of researchers, including MRC-Edinburgh Cross-Disciplinary Post-Doctoral Fellows and PhD students from the newly funded Biomedical AI CDT. As a member of our group, you will also benefit from excellent networking opportunities, through strong links across Edinburgh (e.g. School of Informatics, Bayes Centre, UoE/BHF Centre for Cardiovascular Science) as well as The Alan Turing Institute and Health Data Research UK.

The University of Edinburgh has a continued commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion. As a global University, we are interested in attracting the best candidates irrespective of age,

disability, sex, race, religion and belief, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, sexual orientation and gender reassignment.



The role is grade Ue07 and attracts an annual salary of £33,199 to £39,609 for 35 hours each week. Salary is paid monthly by direct transfer to your Bank or Building Society account, normally on the 28th of the month. Salaries for part-time staff are calculated on the full-time scales, pro-rata to the Standard Working Week.

This post is available on a fixed term basis, with a working pattern of 35 hours per week for 3 years.


Pension Scheme

This role is grade Ue07 and therefore the post holder is automatically included in membership of the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS), subject to the USS membership criteria, unless they indicate that they choose not to join the Scheme.

For further information please visit our pension’s website:


Right to Work

In accordance with the Immigration, Asylum and Nationality Act 2006 and Immigration Act 2016 the University of Edinburgh, as an employer, has a legal responsibility to prevent illegal working and therefore must check that all employees are entitled to work in the United Kingdom (UK).

To do so, the University requires to see original documents evidencing right to work in the UK before commencement of employment and this is normally carried out at interview. Details will be provided in any letter of invitation to interview.

For further information on right to work please visit our right to work webpage

If you are from outside the EEA and not currently eligible to work in the UK, there are visa routes that may be available to you, for example:

Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent): If you are an academic in the field of sciences; humanities; engineering; medicine; digital technology; or the arts, it may be possible for you to apply for a Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) visa. This route requires you to apply to be endorsed as an internationally recognised leader or emerging leader in your particular field by a designated competent body (Arts Council England, British Academy, Royal Academy of Engineering, Royal Society, Tech City UK). However, if you are applying for a senior academic role, e.g. Professor/Reader there is an accelerated route to endorsement. Further information can be found on the UKVI website

Tier 2: The University is a UKVI licensed sponsor and is able to issue a Certificate of Sponsorship (CoS) to successful candidates who are offered highly skilled roles and meet the eligibility criteria. The CoS enables candidates to apply for a Tier 2 (general visa).

Please note if you were last granted leave to stay in the UK in any Tier 2 category in the 12 months immediately preceding an application and the leave has

• ended or expired.

• the CoS which led to that grant of leave was issued for more than 3 months, and

• you are either:

o applying for entry clearance from outside the UK, or

o you are in the UK and had a previous period of Tier 2 leave, but then changed (‘switched’) into a different immigration category and now wishes to apply again under Tier 2.

You must wait 12 months before applying again.

Further information about whether you require a visa and other visa routes can be found at:


Application Procedure

All applicants should apply online by clicking the “apply” button at the foot of this page. The application process is quick and easy to follow, and you will receive email confirmation of safe receipt of your application. The online system allows you to submit a CV and other attachments.


Closing date: 23 August at 5pm.

The University reserves the right to vary the candidate information or make no appointment at all. Neither in part, nor in whole does this information form part of any contract between the University and any individual.


Deanery of Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences

Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences is one of three Deaneries in Edinburgh Medical School which, together with the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies, makes up the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine. The Deanery is headed by Professor Sarah Cunningham-Burley and comprises the Institute of Genetics and Molecular Medicine (IGMM), the Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics, the Division of Pathology and the Edinburgh Clinical Trials Unit. The Deanery currently attracts annual research grants of around £40M, including a number of full programme grants, and has around 630 employees including 39 Professors, over 260 other academic members of staff and 330 members of support staff. The Deanery operates across three University of Edinburgh sites; the Western General Hospital campus, the Central Area, and Little France. Staff contribute undergraduate and postgraduate teaching and offer on-campus and on-line programmes. There is a vibrant PhD community in both IGMM and the Usher Institute.


Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences


The College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

The College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine The College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine traces its origins back nearly 500 years (Darwin, Simpson and Conan-Doyle were students here) and is internationally renowned for its research and teaching. Professor Moira Whyte is the Head of College, the only conjoint Medical and Veterinary Medical School in the UK. The College employs over 3000 academic and support staff. The College has two Schools, the Edinburgh Medical School comprising 3 Deaneries; Biomedical Sciences; Molecular Genetic and Population Health Sciences and Clinical Sciences and the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies.


The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies

Edinburgh Medical School: Biomedical Sciences

Edinburgh Medical School: Biomedical Sciences, Biomedical Teaching Organisation

Edinburgh Medical School: Molecular, Genetic and Population Health Sciences

Edinburgh Medical School: Clinical Sciences


The undergraduate medicine teaching programme in the College enjoys a high reputation nationally and internationally, with over 1,300 students enrolled on the MBChB and Intercalated courses and nearly 1000 on the Veterinary Sciences BVS and related programmes. In addition, approximately 2000 students are currently enrolled in the College’s taught and research post-graduate courses, including an extensive range of online distance learning diplomas and degrees. They are trained by over 1000 outstanding academic staff. Details of PhDs, research programmes and studentships are available through our interdisciplinary research institutes and centres.


The academic disciplines within Medicine are largely concentrated in the two teaching hospital campuses, the Royal Infirmary at Little France and the Western General Hospital. Both have extensive new infrastructure with major research institutes and state of the art research facilities on clinical sites. Edinburgh hosts a number of prestigious MRC and BHF Research Centres. The approach is interdisciplinary, with basic and clinical researchers working together at the laboratory bench and in our clinical research facilities to address major themes in basic, clinical and translational medicine.


The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies on the Easter Bush Campus houses outstanding teaching and clinical facilities as well as the splendid Roslin Institute, one of the world’s leading veterinary research centres. The College offers outstanding opportunities to address ‘One Health’ and Global Health problems of the highest international priority.


Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014

The College’s reputation as one of the world’s leading centres of medical and veterinary medical research has been reaffirmed by its UK REF2014 results. Medicine, the University’s largest submission, was ranked in the top 5 in the UK. Veterinary Medicine came 1st in the UK, and retained its position as the UK’s top Vet School. It made a joint submission with Scotland’s Rural College (SRUC). Neuroscience was ranked 3rd in the UK out of 82 submissions, representing a major advance. Overall, 84% of the College’s research activity was rated world leading or internationally excellent (3* and 4*). In terms of 'one medicine' research (human and animal medicine), the University of Edinburgh's research power (quality x volume) is the strongest in the UK.


The University of Edinburgh

For more than four centuries, our people and their achievements have rewritten history time and again. They’ve explored space, revolutionised surgery, published era-defining books, paved the way for life-saving medical breakthroughs and introduced to the world many inventions, discoveries and ideas from penicillin to Dolly the sheep. We have believed that anything is possible, we still do.

The latest Research Excellence Framework highlighted our place at the forefront of international research. This adds to our international reputation for the quality of our teaching and our student experience excellence. The University is proud of its success with online teaching initiatives, with 2550 students currently studying its online distance learning postgraduate programmes, and a total to date of more than 2 million enrolments for Edinburgh MOOCs.


As a member of staff, you will be part of one of the world's leading universities, with 20 Schools spread over 3 Colleges that offer more than 1600 undergraduate and 600 postgraduate programmes to over 41,000 students each year. Professional services are critical to this success as well as our world-class teaching, research and student facilities. In fact, we are one of the top employers in Edinburgh, with over 14,500 people spread across a wide range of academic and supporting roles.


As a world-changing, world-leading university, we offer an exciting, positive, creative, challenging and rewarding place to work. We give you support, nurture your talent, develop and reward success and integrate academic, professional and personal career goals, as well as give your career the benefit of a great and distinguished reputation. In addition, our employees benefit from a competitive reward package and a wide range of staff benefits, which include generous holiday entitlement, a defined benefits pension scheme, staff discounts and much more. Access our staff benefits page for further information and use our reward calculator to find out the total value of pay and benefits provided.


The University of Edinburgh holds a Silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our commitment to advance gender equality in higher education. We are members of the Race Equality Charter and we are also Stonewall Scotland Diversity Champions, actively promoting LGBT equality. The University has a range of initiatives to support a family friendly working environment, including flexible working and childcare vouchers. See our University Initiatives website for further information.


University Family Friendly Initiatives

Equality Networks:

Staff Pride Network for LGBT+ colleagues and allies

Disabled Staff Network

The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in Scotland, with registration number SC005336.

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