Postdoctoral Fellow – [C Swanton] Cancer Evolution and Genome Instability Laboratory

Key information

Job reference
From £41,935 with benefits, subject to skills and experience
Application close date
14 December 2023, 23:59 GMT
Hours per week
36 (full time)
Posted 14 November 2023
Background texture taken from the lab imagery.

Postdoctoral Fellow – [C Swanton] Cancer Evolution and Genome Instability Laboratory

Reporting to: Charles Swanton, Principal Investigator

Contact term: This is a full-time 4 years position on Crick terms and conditions of employment.

The Research Group

The Cancer Evolution and Genome Instability lab are studying how cancers evolve in the body to spread and become resistant to therapy and finding new ways to treat them more effectively.

In recent years it has become clear that every tumour is made up of many different groups of cancer cells, each with their own unique genetic makeup but all related to each other. Some groups of tumour cells develop resistance to treatments such as chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiotherapy and targeted therapy, meaning that when the cancer comes back it is harder to treat.

This diversity, known as heterogeneity, occurs through evolutionary processes at work inside the tumour as the cells pick up DNA changes (mutations or chromosomal rearrangements) that allow them to respond and adapt to changes in the environment around them.

The Project

Lung cancer remains one of the most pressing public health concerns worldwide, demanding innovative research to address its complexities and challenges. To this end, our research presents two distinct yet intertwined project directions for a postdoc candidate. We are seeking applications from candidates with a broad range of competencies.

Firstly, we are committed to advancing our understanding the biology of lung tumour evolution based around analysis of next generation sequence (NGS) data and the tumour microenvironment from the TRACERx longitudinal lung cancer program. Leveraging genomic, transcriptomic and epigenomic sequencing as well as spatial immunophenotyping data from patient samples, our aim is to trace the intricate evolutionary trajectories of lung tumours across space and time. This work will unveil the key drivers of cancer progression, immune resistance mechanisms, and potential vulnerabilities within the tumour landscape. Our pursuit of these insights promises to pave the way for more personalized and precise interventions to enhance patient outcomes.

In parallel, our second research direction investigates the role of non-mutagenic carcinogens in lung cancer initiation. Recent studies have brought to light the fact that most carcinogens do not solely rely on DNA mutations to drive cancer development. Our own research has specifically revealed how airborne particulate matter measuring 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) contributes to lung cancer in never-smokers, through an inflammatory axis. It is imperative to understand whether other environmental carcinogens might similarly induce inflammation that facilitates tumorigenesis in the lungs and across other organs. By identifying common inflammatory pathways across different tissues, we aspire to identify actionable targets within these pathways suitable for therapeutic intervention to prevent the onset of cancer.

The postholder will be responsible for:

  • Working within the multi-disciplinary team of clinicians, bioinformaticians and bench scientists in the Swanton lab, and collaborating with groups at the Francis Crick Institute and beyond, including academic and industry partners

  • Driving the project forward using relevant experimental and/or computational approaches

  • Keeping up to date with the relevant literature in the field of cancer biology

  • Attending and reporting research results at regular group meetings

  • Contributing to the dissemination of scientific results by means of writing papers for publication and presenting orally and in poster form at national and international meetings

Postdoctoral Fellows will lead their own projects, contribute to other projects on a collaborative basis (both in the lab and with external collaborators) and may guide PhD students in their research. The ability to work in a team is essential.

Key experience and competencies

The post holder should embody and demonstrate our core Crick values:

Bold; Imaginative; Open; Dynamic; Collegial

We are seeking applications from both experimental and computational candidates.


  • PhD, or in the final stages of PhD completion in cancer biology / evolutionary biology / cancer immunology / genomics or other relevant discipline

  • Good knowledge and experience in at least one of the following: cancer biology / cancer immunology / epithelial cell biology / evolutionary biology / genomics / statistics / mathematics or machine learning

  • Technical qualifications:

    • For bench scientist: expertise in mouse models of cancer, functional in vitro assays and co-cultures as well as experience with tissue histology / flow cytometry methods

    • For computational scientist: previous experience with NGS data analysis; fluency in R, Python or C++

  • Track record of writing papers as evidenced by publications or submitted manuscripts in referred journals

  • Evidence of data presentation at scientific meetings

  • Excellent organisational and communication skills

  • Ability to work independently and within a team


  • For bench scientist applicant

    • Experience with experiments involving primary human cells and tissues

    • Experience with organoid culture

    • Experience with in vivo screens using CRISPR or RNAi

  • For computational scientist applicant

    • Experience with HPC environments

    • Experience with data analysis based on integrating large datasets

    • Experience with multi-omic analyses

    • Strong skills in statistics, mathematics or machine learning

About Us

At the Crick, we conduct research at the forefront of biomedical research. We combine rigour with an open and collaborative culture, and are outward-looking, reflecting our status as a partnership of six organisations aiming to pool knowledge, ideas and resources.

We have a wide research portfolio with no divisions or departments, bringing biomedical researchers together with clinicians, physical scientists and applied scientists from our pharmaceutical partners.

We aim to attract the most talented researchers and support them to tackle innovative research questions. Our science technology platforms provide our researchers with access to state-of-the-art technology and expertise.

We provide an excellent learning environment with dedicated education programmes in public engagement with science, education and personal development, and a postdoc training programme that prepares scientists for leadership roles in science.

  • If you are interested in applying for this role, please apply via our website.

  • All offers of employment are subject to successful security screening and continuous eligibility to work in the United Kingdom.

  • If you require a visa to work in the UK we will help support your application should you be successful