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Current opportunities at Aitken Lab


Coming soon


Postdoctoral researcher (Research Associate) in Genomics. 

A research associate (postdoc) position will be advertised in late summer 2022.

Closing: 28 April 2022


Postdoctoral researcher (Research Associate) in Computational Biology or Bioinformatics. 

We wish to recruit a Computational Biologist / Bioinformatician, for the analysis of large-scale genomic and image-based datasets to support our mechanistic and translational research. They will be expected to develop their own projects, in line with the strategic interests of the lab, as well as liaising with the bioinformatics core to provide informatic support to other researchers in the group. 

The overall aim of our interdisciplinary research group is to investigate mechanisms of cellular damage, and to understand their consequences for human health and disease. We use experimental and computational approaches to study genomic, cellular, and tissue-level responses to environmental and drug-induced insults. By exploiting genomics and pathomics techniques, we study normal and diseased cells and tissues to identify molecular mechanisms which are dysregulated in disease, including cancer. 

The successful candidate will have a Masters or PhD in a relevant field (biomedicine, biology, bioinformatics, mathematics, medicine or equivalent), experience analysing large datasets using Python and/or R, and strong knowledge of statistics. Candidates are expected to have excellent communication, organisational, and problem-solving skills, as well as creativity, curiosity, and enthusiasm to work both independently and contribute intellectually to other projects developed in the laboratory

Closing: 02 December 2021


Characterisation of 3D liver models for discovery toxicology and pathology (Project M22-09)

Human cells endure a lifetime of exposure to endogenous and exogenous toxicants. For example, the gastrointestinal tract, including the liver, is exposed to a vast array of dietary metabolites, drugs, and other xenobiotics, as well as commensal and pathogenic organisms. These tissues are prone to accumulate damage due to their role in absorption and detoxification, which can cause mutations in both normal and diseased tissues. 

In this project, the student will develop liver organoids and use innovative experimental and computational approaches to characterise their 3D structure and function. We will then investigate cellular responses to environmental and drug-induced insults, the resultant disease phenotypes, and the potential consequences for human health and disease. 

The student will receive training in state-of-the-art molecular cell biology, imaging, and genomics as well as bioinformatics.

Full details: https://www.mrc-tox.cam.ac.uk/phd-programme/studentships-and-application-information

Closing: 27 September 2021


Molecular and genomic responses to DNA damaging agents in the context of liver toxicity and disease

We are seeking a highly motivated PhD student to join our new research group at the MRC Toxicology Unit at the University of Cambridge. She/he will work on an experimental and/or computational biology project to understand the mechanisms underlying liver toxicity and disease.

Liver disease usually develops in the context of chronic cellular injury caused by exogenous insults, including drugs and environmental exposures [1]. The incidence of liver disease is rapidly increasing in the UK and other developed countries due to rising alcohol consumption and an epidemic of type 2 diabetes leading to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This is a research area of substantial unmet needs in prevention, detection, and treatment, and the MRC Toxicology Unit offers the ideal environment to pursue this research. We recently discovered lesion segregation [2], which occurs when DNA lesions persist though cell division and can generate multiallelic and combinatorial genetic diversity. Lesion segregation can be caused by exogenous mutagens [3] such as chemotherapeutics, and is a unifying property of mutagens in human cells and tumours.

The aim of this PhD project is to study the persistence of lesions caused by different DNA damaging agents, including existing and novel therapeutics, and explore the molecular and genomic consequences for cellular phenotypes. This work will advance our study of how the liver responds at a molecular level to exogenous insults. The recruited candidate will use a combination of molecular biology, experimental pathology, and image analysis approaches to address these problems with the overall goal of gaining a mechanistic understanding of the direct links between exposure/injury and disease outcomes, including cancer.

The successful candidate will gain experience in a breadth of experimental and analytical techniques, including molecular biology, cell culture, drug assays, high-throughput sequencing, and statistical data analyses. She/he should have strong analytical skills, in addition to creativity, curiosity, enthusiasm, and the ability to work in a team.


1. Brunner, S. F. et al. Somatic mutations and clonal dynamics in healthy and cirrhotic human liver. Nature 574, 538–542 (2019).

2. Aitken, S. J. et al. Pervasive lesion segregation shapes cancer genome evolution. Nature 583, 265–270 (2020).

3. Connor, F., Rayner T., Aitken, S. J. et al. Mutational landscape of a chemically-induced mouse model of liver cancer. J. Hepatol. 69, 840–850 (2018).

Full application details here: https://www.mrc-tox.cam.ac.uk/phd-programme/applications