Postdoctoral Fellow

Job Location
The Wellcome Trust Genome Campus
CB10 1SD
United Kingdom

EMBL-EBI is part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). We are a world-leading bioinformatics centre providing biological data to the scientific community with expertise in data storage, analysis and representation. We provide a dynamic, international working environment and have close ties with both the University of Cambridge and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute. EMBL-EBI staff enjoy many benefits including excellent sports facilities, a free shuttle bus to Cambridge and other nearby centres, an active sports and social club and an attractive working environment set in 55 acres of parkland.

Job Description

We are looking for a postdoctoral scientist to work on codes for the storage of digital information in synthetic DNA sequences at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) located on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus near Cambridge in the UK.  A postdoctoral scientist is sought to work for three years on the information and coding theory aspects of the Coding Theory and Synthetic Biology project. DNA is a stable chemical compound that is the "hard drive" of life, encoding the genome of all living organisms and copied from generation to generation over evolutionary timescales. The European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), Europe's leading centre for bioinformatics services and research, is heading a research project on the use of synthetically created DNA for storing and recovering digital information. Following our successful "DNA-storage" experiment's publication and media interest, we now hold a grant to further develop the methods and technologies that a future DNA-based information archival system will require. Although our initial experiment used a very simple code to represent digital information in the 4-letter alphabet of DNA, a robust future scheme will require greater error tolerance through error-correcting codes. The properties of the channel over which information will be sent (including DNA synthesis, copying, storage, transportation and reading or 'sequencing') are non-standard, and new channel constraints are expected to emerge over the duration of the project in response to the requirements of our laboratory collaborators. The postdoctoral fellow will work with Nick Goldman, Ewan Birney and experimental collaborators at the neighbouring Sanger Institute to design and implement codes for synthetic DNA. The codes will be optimized for this non-standard channel, and adapted according to the developing requirements of a practical DNA-based digital information archive system.


Candidates must have a PhD in information theory, coding theory or a related subject. Particular knowledge and experience with sparse-graph codes, LDPC codes, modern erasure codes (e.g. fountain codes), codes for non-standard channels (e.g. channels with insertions and deletions) and magnetic-recording coding standards will be advantageous. Experience in probabilistic statistical inference is highly desirable. Bioinformatics skills relating to genome sequence computation, dynamic programming, hidden Markov models etc. are also desirable but not necessary.

How to Apply

Please apply online on our jobs page

About Our Organization

EMBL is an inclusive, equal opportunity employer offering attractive conditions and benefits appropriate to an international research organisation.
Please note that appointments on fixed term contracts can be renewed, depending on circumstances at the time of the review. We welcome applications from all nationalities. Visa information will be discussed in more depth with applicants selected for interview. 

At Nature, Johns Hopkins' Gundula Bosch describes her graduate program that aims to get doctoral students thinking about the big picture.

Patricia Fara writes about childcare funding, and women in science and science history at NPR.

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences researchers have visualized the career paths of former postdocs.

A new survey from the Pew Research Center finds that half of women working in STEM have experienced gender discrimination at work.