Group Leader – Organoid Modelling of Disease

Group Leader – Organoid Modelling of Disease

European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL)

Barcelona, Spain


About the team/job

EMBL Barcelona is a new research unit focusing on Tissue Biology and Disease Modelling. We aim to go beyond the molecular and cellular scale, integrating gene circuits with a tissue-level quantitative understanding of tissues and organs, both healthy and diseased. The use of organoids, and other 3D in vitro culture models, is an exciting approach to understand dynamic tissue organisation, to study how tissues fail in various diseases, how to cure or regenerate damaged tissue, in both human (patient-derived) tissues, as well as model organisms. We are thus now seeking outstanding candidates for a new member of the team, to lead an independent group organoid modelling of disease, starting some time during 2019. This could be in the area of cancer, genetic disorders, tissue degeneration, immune-related diseases, regeneration, or others.

Research at EMBL Barcelona takes advantage of new technical advances entering the field, such as organoid culture, 3D mesoscopic imaging, multicellular transcriptomics and computer modelling. Together these advances are helping biologists and tissue engineers understand multicellular systems at a higher level: dynamic feedback, long-range signalling networks, tissue mechanics and emergent collective decisions. An important theme of the unit is thus to seek research with a strong interdisciplinary mix of experimental approaches and quantitative/computational modelling. The unit also has a cutting-edge mesoscopic imaging facility (OPT and LSFM) for digitizing organoids, tissues and embryos in 3D/4D, and access to state-of-the-art facilities for genomics, proteomics, FACS, and more. Given the relevance of this field to tissue engineering, regenerative medicine and disease modelling, we plan to forge collaborations with the excellent local research hospitals in Barcelona.

EMBL Barcelona will grow to a total of 7 groups over the next couple of years. The successful candidate will join the 3 groups which have been recruited so far – all of which study tissue dynamics by combining experimental biology with modelling/engineering:

  • James Sharpe’s group integrates various approaches (quantitative imaging, genetics, in vitro experimentation and computer modelling) to understand a classic example of multicellular organisation – vertebrate limb development.
  • Miki Ebisuya’s group uses synthetic biology to reconstruct tissue organisation dynamics in vitro from ESCs and iPSCs. She complements the experimental work with mathematical modelling to make more precise predictions about these multicellular systems.
  • Vikas Trivedi’s group (starting October 2018) will study how tissue constructs of stem cells are able to coordinate and self-organise – both molecularly and mechanically – reflecting the dynamic tissue re-arrangements seen in embryo development.

The unit is a fully integrated part of EMBL, independent of local neighbouring institutes, but with a very close synergistic relationship with the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), regarding scientific interactions, collaborations and access to facilities.


Your role

You will lead an independent research group to pursue highly ambitious and original research goals in organoid modelling of disease – ideally establishing collaborations with local hospitals. You will be embedded in the multidisciplinary and collaborative environment of EMBL, which provides many opportunities for interaction with other research groups. EMBL generally appoints group leaders early in their career and provides a very supportive, collegial and family friendly environment in which to develop exciting, cutting-edge research. Significant core funding and very limited teaching obligations allow you undertake an ambitious, competitive research program.


You have

You have an outstanding Ph.D. and post-doctoral record in a relevant scientific topic (in biology, physics, engineering or other relevant topic).

You have strong experience in the field of organoids, or other 3D in vitro culture models, and a track-record of exciting scientific achievements.

You must have an exciting research proposal which ideally combines:

  • Scientific questions – to understand the biology behind a particular type of tissue/organ and a disease (rare or common) associated with that organ.
  • Technological advances – how to improve the state-of-the-art in growing, controlling, imaging and experimentally manipulating the in vitro tissue.
  • Potential medical application (proposals for personalised medicine, regenerative medicine, drug screening, etc.) will increase the strength of a proposal, but is not essential.

We are particularly interested in candidates with experience in:

  • Establishing new organoid models.
  • Experience with chimeric or multi-tissue organoids.
  • Working in collaboration with hospitals/clinicians to obtain samples and build organoid collections that reflect physiology of the tissue.

Extensive experience in any of the following topics: cancer, genetic disorders, tissue degeneration, immune-related diseases, or others.


You might also have

You might also have experience or interest in – dynamic computer modelling or simulations of organoids, or other multicellular systems. This would be desirable, but not essential.

Relevance - A key goal for EMBL Barcelona is to integrate experimental approaches with theoretical/computational modelling – as part of a true systems biology approach. Although experience in computer modelling is not essential to the position, experience or knowledge of these approaches is desirable, and the successful candidate would be encouraged to add a modelling component to their research – either within their group, or through collaborations. The unit already contains significant expertise in computer modelling of multicellular systems, and can strongly support these goals.


Why join us

EMBL is an inclusive, equal opportunity employer offering attractive conditions and benefits appropriate to an international research organization with a very collegial and family friendly working environment. EMBL is committed to achieving gender balance and strongly encourages applications from women. Appointment will be based on merit alone. The remuneration package comprises a competitive salary, a comprehensive pension scheme, medical, educational and other social benefits, as well as financial support for relocation and installation, including your family, and the availability of an excellent child care facility on campus.


What else do I need to know

We are Europe’s flagship research laboratory for the life sciences – an intergovernmental organisation performing scientific research in disciplines including molecular biology, physics, chemistry and computer science. We are an international, innovative and interdisciplinary laboratory with more than 1600 employees from many nations, operating across six sites, in Heidelberg (HQ), Barcelona, Hinxton near Cambridge, Hamburg, Grenoble and Rome.

Our other missions are to offer vital services in training scientists, students and visitors at all levels; to develop new instruments and methods in the life sciences and actively engage in technology transfer activities, and to integrate European life science research.

The working language of the institute is English.

In your online application, you will be asked to include a cover letter, CV and a concise description of research interests & future research plans, typically not exceeding six pages. 

Please also arrange for 3 letters of recommendation to be emailed directly by your referees to: references@embl.de at the latest by 28 October 2018.

Interested candidates are encouraged to make informal enquiries to the Head of Site, James Sharpe (james.sharpe@embl.es), to learn more about this opportunity.

Further information about research at EMBL Barcelona can be found at www.embl.es.

Information on Group Leader appointments can be found under http://www.embl.org/gl_faq.

Interviews are planned for 14th / 15th January 2019.

An initial contract of 5 years will be offered to the successful candidate. This is foreseen to be extended to a maximum of 9 years, subject to an external review.

Please apply via recruiter’s website.

Quote Reference: EMBL-embl-BA00034

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