Postdoctoral Researcher in Genomics: Genetics Links to Anxiety and Depression Study
This is an exciting position that will play a vital role in supporting research and will be supported to lead research in the world’s largest genetic study of depression and anxiety - the Genetic Links to Anxiety and Depression ( GLAD ) study.
GLAD is the world’s largest study of major depressive disorder (MDD) and anxiety disorders, with >31k recontactable volunteers with a history of depression and/or anxiety who have completed online mental health and treatment response assessments, based on an extended version of UK Biobank’s Mental Health Questionnaire. They have provided DNA for GWAS and whole genome sequencing, and have consented to health record linkage that is in progress via the UK Longitudinal Linkage Collaboration CC https://ukllc.ac.uk/
GLAD is projected to reach 40,000 cases by 2023 and is part of the re-contactable UK NIHR BioResource (biobank), and we conducted very similar assessments of >14K healthy volunteers in the NIHR BioResource, who provide a control group. In addition, a large amount of longitudinal follow up questionnaires on 32,000 (19,000 cases and 13,000 control participants) were collected during the pandemic. For analyses, GLAD will also, with permission, be merged with UK Biobank to provide an unique data set from the UK population with over 70,000 cases of MDD and anxiety, all on the same genotyping array and with very similar mental health questionnaire information.
This is a 15 month senior postdoctoral position with a possible extension that will lead statistical genetics analyses aiming to generate new hypotheses of psychiatric disorder aetiology and treatment. The postholder will also work with collaborators and with consortia in which we are members, in particular from the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium MDD and anxiety disorders groups. The postholder ideally will already have experience in psychiatric or behavioural genetics or have a keen interest in mental health or behaviour.
You will hold a relevant PhD in statistical genetics or bioinformatics, and experience in the generation or analysis of high-throughput genetic and genomic data and bioinformatics. Optimally, this will include genome wide association studies, and/or exome or whole genome sequencing analyses. Alternatively, you will have experience in large scale chemoinformatics or biomarker informatics. You will have good skills in statistical analysis, preferably in R and/or python, and LINUX/bash. You will have experience in, or a keen interest in, mental health. You will be able to work independently, to maintain excellent relationships with our collaborators. High quality written communication and presentation skills are essential.
Our Environment and Group:
The GLAD study team strives to be a diverse research environment that is open, welcoming and supportive to all. The faculty-wide initiatives are supported by an active Diversity & Inclusion Team. To help us achieve our goals, we particularly welcome applications from people from backgrounds who are currently under-represented in UK Higher Education (E.g. Black, Asian, Latinx and other white ethnic minorities).
The post will be based in the Biomedical Research Centre’s (BRC) BioResource for Mental Health Theme, the Translational Genetics Group (lead Professor Gerome Breen) and Emotions Development Interventions and Treatment Lab (lead Professor Thalia Eley) all based at the Social Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre. The successful post-holder will have the opportunity to work alongside world leading academic researchers to support the development of new treatments and diagnostics for mental illnesses.
The successful candidate will be a member of a team that includes wet lab postdocs, a genomics core, database developers, systems administrators, and postdoctoral bioinformatics researchers, PhD students, and a specialised team for the collection of participant data. The candidate will have the opportunity to supervise or co-supervise PhD and MSc students. The candidate will be involved in the whole research process from the beginning, including planning, decision making, data collection, data cleaning, analysis, until the end resulting in distribution of results in written form as well as oral presentations. In our team, we value the open science approach by pre-registering our projects on the Open Science Framework and documenting our research process transparently using GitHub.
This post will be offered on a fixed-term contract for 15 months with a possible extension
This is a full time post - 100% full time equivalent
• Acting as lead analyst on specific research projects, the post holder will provide statistical data analysis which includes appropriate summary analysis, linear modelling, genetic association analysis, and whole genome or exome sequence data analysis, using R or other statistical programs as appropriate.
• Provide statistical and bioinformatics support and guidance to members of the investigators undertaking research associated with GLAD.
• Assist in the planning of current and future research programmes
• Participate in research group meetings, present, and discuss data analyses and scientific papers.
• Write up planned or actual analyses and power calculations to form part of grant applications and scientific papers.
• Write and contribute to articles for publication in high quality peer reviewed journals.
• The post holder will communicate with the multidisciplinary team regarding statistical tests and analysis of results, noting that the multidisciplinary team include audience with limited statistical knowledge.
• Ensure compliance with good working practices and adhere to local and national health and safety policies.
• Keep accurate written and/or electronic records of statistical work and service operations, ensuring workload values and data is entered and stored appropriately.
• Meet regularly with the Project Leads to discuss progress and prioritise workload
• Deputise for Senior staff as appropriate when requested by the Project Leads
Skills, knowledge, and experience
Good all-round IT and database skills and familiarity with LINUX/UNIX environments. Some formal programming experience or training would be a plus.
• Ability to take initiative and generate results
• Work together with a multidisciplinary team
• Work closely together with collaborating research teams
• The ability to maintain a customer facing profile in dealings with other projects and investigators and responding to email and requests in a professional and courteous manner. Demonstrate excellent communication skills via email, phone and in person.
• Ensure that group leads are kept appraised of communications and issues, primarily via email but also via meetings.
1. A relevant degree or equivalent qualification (e.g. genetics, mathematics, statistics or bioinformatics)
2. Excellent organisational, communication, interpersonal and administrative skills
3. Excellent time-management skills with ability to work to deadlines
4. Fluent in written and spoken English
5. Ability to follow research guidelines and protocol
6. Good all-round informatics skills in LINUX/UNIX and R.
1. Experience writing papers on complex mental health problems such as anxiety/depression.