Research Associate in Blood Cancer Risk Prediction

University of Cambridge

Overview. The Blundell lab at the University of Cambridge is seeking a candidate for a postdoctoral position in blood cancer risk prediction. This is part of a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship project on "forecasting" blood cancer risk from sequencing of longitudinal blood samples collected pre-diagnosis. We are an interdisciplinary group focused on applying mathematical, evolutionary and statistical approaches to understand the behaviour of mutant clones that expand in our tissues as we age and how these impact cancer risk. We generate and analyse DNA sequencing data sets from longitudinal samples collected over decades from the same individual to build predictive models of cancer risk.

Project. Our overall research aim is to improve blood cancer risk prediction. As we age, we acquire mutations in our blood cells and if these mutations confer a Darwinian fitness effect to the affected blood cells, then these cells will increase in frequency in the blood. This phenomenon is termed clonal haematopoiesis and it is known to increase the risk of blood cancer development (e.g. Acute Myeloid Leukaemia), although identifying who is most at risk remains difficult. If we can quantify the fitness effect of individual mutations and their combinations, we can improve personalized blood cancer risk stratification. Using data from large publicly available studies and complemented using longitudinal data generated in the lab, we will attempt to answer the following questions:

1) Can we characterize the fitness effects of rare, yet potentially highly pathogenic somatic pre-leukemic mutations in the blood?

2) How does inherited variation influence the 'fitness effects' mutations in the blood?

3) How can we combine information on age, mutation identities, clone sizes, fitness effects and combinations of mutations to quantitatively predict future cancer risk?

Candidate. Candidates should have a PhD in genomics, quantitative biology, physics or mathematics, an excellent research record and an interest in biological problems. Experience with genomic datasets is essential as is experience programming in Python or R.

Lab and environment. The Blundell lab is part of the Department of Oncology at the University of Cambridge and the Early Detection Programme of the CRUK Cambridge Centre. Situated on Cambridge Biomedical Research Campus, with close ties to Addenbrooke's Hospital and a host of biotech companies, our location affords our members access to human tissue samples, state of the art sequencing facilities, and the opportunity to forge collaborations with world class physicists, engineers, biologists and clinicians in Cambridge. More information on the lab can be found at

The funding supporting this position is available until 30 September 2023 in the first instance.

Informal enquiries should be directed to Jamie Blundell via e-mail:

Once an offer of employment has been accepted, the successful candidate will be required to undergo a security check. This appointment also requires a Research Passport application.

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Closing Date: 21st March 2021

Please ensure that you upload a covering letter and CV in the Upload section of the online application. The covering letter should outline how you match the criteria for the post and why you are applying for this role. If you upload any additional documents which have not been requested, we will not be able to consider these as part of your application.

Please include details of your referees, including email address and phone number, one of which must be your most recent line manager.

Please quote reference RD25792 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

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