Protein Computational Scientist

Job Location
EMBL-EBI Wellcome Trust Genome Campus
CB10 1SD
United Kingdom

EMBL is an inclusive, equal opportunity employer offering attractive conditions and benefits appropriate to an international research organisation. The remuneration package comprises a competitive salary, a comprehensive pension scheme and health insurance, educational and other family related benefits where applicable, as well as financial support for relocation and installation.

We have an informal culture, international working environment and excellent professional development opportunities but one of the really amazing things about us is the concentration of technical and scientific expertise – something you probably won’t find anywhere else.

If you’ve ever visited the campus you’ll have experienced first-hand our friendly, collegial and supportive atmosphere, set in the beautiful Cambridgeshire countryside. Our staff also enjoy excellent sports facilities including a gym, a free shuttle bus, an on-site nursery, cafés and restaurant and a library.

Job Description

An exciting opportunity has been created to work on methods to assess and quantify the tractability (also known as “druggability” or “ligandability”) of potential new targets for drug discovery. The position is funded by the Open Targets initiative which is a public-private initiative between EMBL-EBI, GlaxoSmithKline, Biogen and the Sanger Institute to generate and integrate evidence on the validity of biological targets for drug development. The core Open Targets operations are based at the EMBL-EBI.

The appointee will work with scientists from the Open Targets partners to assess, validate and develop methods for quantifying target tractability with the ultimate goal of incorporating such methodologies into the target validation platform ( The initial focus will be on “small molecule” tractability but we are also interested in other modalities in due course (e.g. antibody therapies). Many of the current methods to assess small molecule tractability are based on the use of 3D protein structures, but such information is only available for a subset of potential targets; a key component of the project is to determine robust methods and pipelines that can be applied to novel targets where there is much more limited information. It may also be necessary to combine multiple different techniques together; the development of methods to do this and to visualize the results in a robust and meaningful way will be a critical aspect of the project.

Dependent upon the success of this first phase of the project, and subject to funding, we anticipate a second phase of the project which will focus on the implementation of the outputs from phase one as a robust target tractability workflow in the Open Targets platform. This capability will help scientists to make informed decisions about the progression of targets into the next phases of drug discovery and what experimental work to commission.


The successful candidate will have practical knowledge and expertise in the area of protein sequence and structure analysis (e.g. homology modelling) together with other computational chemistry methods. A knowledge of small molecule drug discovery would also be an advantage but is not essential. The role will involve working with colleagues from the Open Targets partners together with other scientists from around the world, so it is important to be a strong team player whilst also being able to work on your own initiative.

Essential skills

  • PhD in computational chemistry, structural bioinformatics or similar discipline,
  • Practical experience in the use of protein structure and sequence analysis, methods,
  • An individual who is motivated, a self-starter and willing to challenge perceived wisdom,
  • Good scripting/programming skills,
  • Attention to detail and demonstrated ability to deliver results,
  • Good communication (oral/written) and team-working skills.

Ideal skills

  • Knowledge of early drug discovery,
  • Knowledge of computer science/mathematical modelling methods such as machine learning,

Practical experience in target validation and selection

About Our Organization

At EMBL-EBI, we help scientists realise the potential of ‘big data’ in biology by enabling them to exploit complex information to make discoveries that benefit mankind. Working for EMBL-EBI gives you an opportunity to apply your skills and energy for the greater good. As part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), we are a non-profit, intergovernmental organisation funded by 22 member states and two associate member states and proud to be an equal-opportunity employer. We are located on the Wellcome Genome Campus near Cambridge in the UK, and our 600 staff are engineers, technicians, scientists and other professionals from all over the world.

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