Share this Job

Research Assistant/Associate

Requisition ID:  1075

Newcastle, GB

Contract Type:  Fixed Term
Posted Date:  05-Nov-2019

We are a world class research-intensive university. We deliver teaching and learning of the highest quality. We play a leading role in economic, social and cultural development of the North East of England. Attracting and retaining high-calibre people is fundamental to our continued success.

Salary: £28,331 - £40,322 

Closing Date: 5 December 2019


The role

You will join the research team of Dr Sarra Ryan in the use of ultra-long-reads (MinION sequencing) and hybrid sequencing approaches to explore centromeric and telomeric DNA sequence in relation to genomic instability in childhood cancer (namely acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, medulloblastoma and neuroblastoma). Satellite and highly repetitive DNA, found within centromeres and telomeres, is impossible to resolve using conventional short-read sequencing technologies.

You will work closely with internal and external collaborators to develop and utilise tools and pipelines to process, align and analyse ultra-long reads and sequencing data produced from long read (such as 10xGenomics, PacBio) and short read (Illumina) technologies.

You will facilitate the identification of genetic variation in relation to specific forms of genomic instability and cancer development. Short read sequencing data available through collaborators and data repositories will be used to validate findings and comprehensively explore patterns of genomic instability in cancer. The work will be performed using high performance computing solutions. This project offers the opportunity to develop and utilise bioinformatic and computational methods for next generation sequencing approaches and explore genetic variation within the centromere and telomere of cancer patients.  


You will have a PhD (or be near completion for appointment at Research Assistant) in Bioinformatics, Computer Science, Mathematics, Systems Biology or a similar discipline, including experience in Bioinformatics and Programming.

You will have experience of analysing next generation sequencing data and working within a Unix/Linux environment. Knowledge of high performance computing and proficiency using scripting languages, such as Python, R, Perl and Shell as well as comprehension of data analysis processes used for other sequencing technologies (i.e. MinION) and Cancer Genomics is desirable. Practical experience of mathematical models and statistics, such as Hidden Markov Models (HMM) and machine learning techniques, and evidence of productivity in peer-reviewed literature would be advantageous.


This appointment is a 3 year fixed term post from 1st January 2020 (or as close to as possible).

Informal enquiries can be made to Dr Sarra Ryan at
Further Information about the Faculty can be found at:

As part of our commitment to career development for research staff, the University has developed 3 levels of research role profiles.  These profiles set out firstly the generic competences and responsibilities expected of role holders at each level and secondly the general qualifications and experiences needed for entry at a particular level.


Key Accountabilities

  • Work alongside and support Dr Ryan and her team on projects focusing on the exploration of repeat DNA in childhood cancer. Specifically, this will involve the development and application of bioinformatic tools and programmes and computational methods to analyse repeat DNA from data generated using ultra-long (MinION) and complementary (Illumina, 10x, PacBio) next-generation sequencing technologies. The biological and clinical datasets will be integrated to identify critical molecular disease features.
  • To conduct bioinformatics based research and take responsibilty for the investigation(s) of a scientific question(s) of relevance to the goals of the study.
  • To provide guidance, where necessary, to other staff and students (including supervision of masters and undergraduate project students) and to provide advice to staff and students in experimental design, analysis techniques and good practice.
  • Where necessary, to participate in the maintenance of bioinformatic hardware, software and resources (e.g servers, Cloud computing, archiving).
  • Planning and communication of analytical strategies to team members, expert academic user groups and collaborations within and outside of Newcastle University.
  • Analysis and presentation of data to team members, expert academic user groups and collaborators within and outside of Newcastle University.
  • Compile results for peer-reviewed publications, grant applications and presentations at scientific conferences.
  • Any other duties within the remit of the grade as required by the relevant PIs.


The Person (Essential)

Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Experience in the area of bioinformatics, genomics, NGS pipelines or other  relevant computational methodologies.
  • Well-developed technical and methodological skills.
  • The ability to assess and evaluate concepts/theories in order to develop original solutions and particular knowledge of, and expertise in, research methodologies appropriate to your area of scholarship.
  • Good technical and analytical interpretation skills of scientific data.
  • Comfortable in the use of high performance computing solutions and awareness of performance considerations.
  • Proficient in the use of R/Bioconductor for the analysis and presentation of NGS data.
  • Evidence of scientific writing and analytical skills.
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills.
  • Ability to prioritise and balance competing demands.
  • Experience of analysing next generation sequencing data and working within a Unix/Linux environment.
  • Knowledge of statistics, mathematical modelling and machine learning techniques and cancer genomics.
  • Willingness to supervise students (BSc, MSc, MRes).


Attributes and Behaviour

  • Enthusiastic, well-motivated and hard working.
  • Good attention to detail.
  • Commitment to continued professional development.
  • Excellent problem-solving abilities.



  • PhD in a relevant subject e.g. bioinformatics or molecular biology (with substantial bioinformatics component (or be close to completion for appointment at Research Assistant level).


Newcastle University is committed to being a fully inclusive Global University which actively recruits, supports and retains staff from all sectors of society.  We value diversity as well as celebrate, support and thrive on the contributions of all our employees and the communities they represent.  We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and encourage applications from everybody, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, age, disability, gender identity, marital status/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, as well as being open to flexible working practices.


Requisition ID: 1075