University of Cambridge

Job Opportunities


Postdoctoral Research Assistant/Research Associate - Molecular/cellular/histological biologist

The MRC Toxicology Unit is an internationally renowned institution focussed on the delivery of field-changing mechanistic insights into toxicology and disease. The Unit is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and offers excellent opportunities for postdoctoral development. The Unit is currently based in Leicester and will relocate to Cambridge in 2020.

A Postdoctoral Scientist is required to join the laboratory of Dr. John Le Quesne as part of a new CRUK programme "Targeting dysregulated translational control in the tumour environment". The programme was jointly awarded to four UK laboratories (Le Quesne lab at MRC Toxicology Unit, Bushell/Samson/Norman labs at the Beatson Institute Glasgow), and aims to elucidate how translation dysregulation is related to the tumour phenotype and how this might be therapeutically exploited.

The laboratory uses a range of quantitative histopathological and molecular methods to investigate the regulation and dysregulation of mRNA translation in complex tissues. We have identified several parts of the translational control machinery as being key to the development of the cancer phenotype, and are discovering how these mechanisms are deployed in the context of normal and diseased tissues to enact cellular and tissue phenotypes, as part of wider target discovery programme. Our aim is to fill the knowledge gap between in vitro/cell culture-derived knowledge and complex phenotypes in diseased human tissues, and to detail how translational reprogramming influences phenotypic plasticity.

The successful applicant will be involved with the design of experiments to quantify translational control in situ. This involves quantitative mRNA hybridisation, immunohistochemistry, co-ISH IHC, highly multiplexed ISH/IHC, proximity detection assays, in situ mutation detection, and other advanced in situ assays as appropriate. Our expert core facility will assist with assay design and application and the retrieval of quantitative data using a range of histological technologies, software approaches, and quantitative multispectral imaging. These data will be integrated into statistical models of the malignant phenotype and of patient survival, with a focus on understanding mechanisms in the tissue microenvironment. Key endpoints will include the identification of translational reprogramming events that modulate cancer cell behaviour, anti-translation target identification/validation, and potential phenotypic assays to enable patient stratification for next-generation therapeutic approaches.

Applicants must have (or be in the final stages of receiving) a PhD in cancer biology/cell biology/biochemistry. Ideally the applicant will combine a basic knowledge of translational control with general cell biology, experience of tissue interpretation and skills in statistical modelling. Knowledge of tumour-stromal interactions within the microenvironment would be helpful. A passion for problem-solving, and for the investigation of novel problems in cancer biology is a must. Direct experience with cancer patient data and relevant statistical methods will be advantageous.

A demonstrated ability to publish high quality research in a peer reviewed journal, to work independently and as part of a team, together with excellent communication are required.

Please note, candidates who have not yet been awarded their PhD will be appointed to Grade 5. Upon award of your PhD you will be appointed to Grade 7.

Further information on the Toxicology Unit can be found at

This post is funded by CRUK for five years.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 5 years in the first instance.

Once an offer of employment has been accepted, the successful candidate will be required to undergo a basic disclosure (criminal records check) check and a health assessment.

To apply online for this vacancy, please click on the 'Apply' button below. This will route you to the University's Web Recruitment System, where you will need to register an account (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

If you have any queries regarding the application process please contact Rebecca Heatherley on

Please quote reference PU15024 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

Further information

Apply online