A 3-year MRC-funded postdoctoral position is available in the laboratory of Professor Nick Gilbert, in the MRC Human Genetics Unit, at the University of Edinburgh. The project will identify and investigate mechanisms affecting the topology of DNA and chromatin in mammalian cells and the relationship of these structures to gene regulation, DNA damage, and genome stability. In particular, this project will focus on genomically unstable regions of the human genome, such as common fragile sites.

You will be part of a vibrant research team developing new experimental approaches and bioinformatics techniques to investigate DNA, RNA and chromatin structure.

Prospective candidates should have done a Ph.D. (or be near completion) in the area of molecular biology and have proven previous experience of conducting molecular biology analyses to investigate DNA/chromatin structure, mechanisms of gene regulation, and genome stability, for example using chromatin immunoprecipitation and the application of structural techniques. Applicants must be innovative, have experience in developing new experimental approaches, and ideally have experience in next-generation sequencing techniques. Candidates should have experience in analyzing datasets using bioinformatics skills and tools – e.g. Linux, R Bioconductor, Python– and have good knowledge about higher-order chromatin structure, gene regulation, DNA damage, and genome stability. A first author peer-reviewed publication in a good biomedical journal is desirable.

Job Purpose

To identify and elucidate the mechanisms controlling large scale topological changes in the human genome and the role of chromatin topology in genome stability.

Main Responsibilities

Design, set up, and conduct experiments in mammalian cells that will identify factors involved in regulating DNA topology in the genome. Using techniques such as cell culture, cell transfection, general molecular biology, RNAi knockdown, chromatin structure techniques, and immunoprecipitation. Interact closely with other members of the research team, particularly in the design and undertaking of new experiments. Monitor the progress of experiments and analyze new data.

Maintain accurate and up-to-date records to document the research progress

Interpret data, prepare and collate results for publication, and present results at departmental and scientific meetings. Carry out literature searches and reviews. Take a lead role in writing up data for publication in peer-reviewed journals

Present data at group, section, and institute meetings

Contribute to the dissemination of research at national and international meetings

To continually update knowledge of chromatin structure and organization and to provide critical thinking in order to further understanding in this area

To provide guidance and supervision for student projects and instruction of students

Planning and Organising

The post-holder will plan and manage their own program of research activity on an ongoing basis, to ensure that the research is conducted in accordance with the research timetable and in close discussion with Dr. Nick Gilbert. They will be expected to assist more junior members of the research team in the planning and scheduling of their workload, in accordance with the demands of the overall projects within the research group.

Problem Solving

The post holder is expected to resolve most problems using accumulated experience or to identify areas were extended training may be required, with only the most serious non-standard issues reported to the line manager for assistance. To use creativity and initiative to identify areas for research, develop new research methods, and to diversify the research parameters. Use initiative to collaborate with Dr Nick Gilbert and other members of the research team to analyze and interpret research data, and draw conclusions from it. The post holder should be pro-active in aiding other researchers in the team to resolve project problems and develop new techniques and methods, as appropriate.

Decision Making

Taken independently: The post holder should organize their own workload according to priorities set in agreement with Dr. Nick Gilbert and adapt as necessary, independently setting short-term timelines, and designing experimental set-up to address specific research aims.

In collaboration with others: The post holder should lease closely with bioinformatics colleagues for computational analysis. Where appropriate problem solving and data interpretation, experimental design, and discussion of short-term research aims and potential new research strategies with other members of the Institute.

Referred To 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 developing and implementation of research strategy, there will be an appropriate degree of independence

Key Contacts/Relationships

Internal: Dr. Nick Gilbert as PI and members of the MRC Human Genetics Unit. The post holder should also actively build internal contacts and links to share information.
External: Collaborating researchers worldwide, external networks to share information and develop links as appropriate

Required Knowledge, Skills, And Experience

Ph.D. (or near completion) in molecular biology

  • Proven expertise in conducting molecular biology experiments to investigate areas such as chromatin structure, epigenetics, DNA topology, or DNA repair. Using techniques such as chromatin immunoprecipitation, siRNA-mediated knockdown of gene expression, sucrose gradient sedimentation, FISH, immunofluorescence.
  • Experience in mammalian cell biology – FACs sorting, transfection, microscopy
  • Use of visual assays for analyzing, for example, chromatin structure, DNA damage, and fragile site formation
  • Use of next-generation sequencing and genomic microarrays
  • Understanding of high-content screening of chromosomes by microscopy
  • Knowledge about chromatin and DNA structure
  • Knowledge about DNA damage and epigenetics
  • Ability to communicate complex information clearly, orally, and in writing.


  • Interacting with other members of the Gilbert group.
  • Active participation in critical discussion at group, section, and Institute meetings.
  • Produce data for a first author publication in a high impact journal.
  • Present data at appropriate national and international meetings

Job Context And Any Other Relevant Information

The post-holder will be part of a dynamic and enthusiastic laboratory that operates at the leading edge of the field of research in an international context.

The role is grade Ue07 and attracts an annual salary of £33,797 to £40,322 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 for 36 months.

Pension Scheme
This role is grade Ue07 and therefore the post holder is automatically included in the 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: http://www.ed.ac.uk/schools-departments/finance/pensions/scheme-details/uss

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 the right to work in the UK before the commencement of employment, and this is normally carried out at the interview. Details will be provided in any letter of invitation to interview.

For further information on the 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:
  • applying for entry clearance from outside the UK, or
  • 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: www.gov.uk/check-uk-visa

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 an email confirmation of safe receipt of your application. The online system allows you to submit a CV and other attachments.

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.