Postdoctoral Fellow: Polygenic Risk Scores In Clinical Trials


Competitive Salary, Bonus & Benefits

About AstraZeneca:

AstraZeneca is a global, science-led, patient-centred biopharmaceutical company that focuses on the discovery, development and commercialization of prescription medicines for some of the world’s most serious diseases. But we’re more than a leading pharmaceutical company. At AstraZeneca, we’re dedicated to being a Great Place to Work where you are empowered to push the boundaries of science and fuel your entrepreneurial spirit. There’s no better place to make a difference to medicine, patients and society!

About the Postdoc Programme:

Bring your expertise, apply your knowledge, follow the science and make a difference.

AstraZeneca’s Postdoc Programme is for self-motivated individuals looking to tackle exciting, high impact projects in a collaborative, engaging and innovative environment. You’ll work with peers and professionals from a diverse group of backgrounds, and a world class academic mentor specifically aligned to your project. We’ll help you develop valuable networks which support your research and future career development.

AstraZeneca Postdocs are respected as specialists and encouraged to speak up. They lead ground-breaking drug discovery and development research projects. Our vibrant, multi-disciplinary scientific teams empower and support our Postdocs, and we encourage them to share their research at conferences, publish papers, achieve their goals and make a difference to our patients.

You’ll learn from industry leaders working on innovative research across our organization. Our Postdoc Training Programme will support you to develop transferrable skills from influencing others to shape the agenda, to data analysis.

About the Opportunity:

AstraZeneca’s Centre for Genomics Research (CGR) has an opportunity for a Postdoc Fellow to help deliver its Genomics Initiative. The Genomics Initiative includes the generation and analysis of genetic data in participants from AstraZeneca clinical studies, academic cohorts, and consortia/industry partnerships, including UK Biobank and FinnGen. Genomics is an integral part of AstraZeneca’s research and drug development platforms. Our in-house clinical genomic database is among one of the largest globally, currently housing hundreds of thousands of human exome and genome sequences, as well as array genotyping datasets. These enable AstraZeneca to identify genetic determinants of disease risk, validate new targets for medicines, and improve patient stratification among the core areas of oncology, respiratory, immunology, cardiovascular, renal and metabolic disease.

You will advance genomic approaches to inform clinical trials, leveraging data generated as part of the Genomics Initiative. You will perform post-hoc analyses of clinical trials to test whether the patients’ genetic predisposition to disease, assessed using polygenic risk scores (PRS), influences the observed treatment outcome(s) and treatment efficacy. This will help assess the utility of PRS as an independent patient stratification tool for the design of future trials as well as the patient segment(s) likely to derive the greatest treatment benefit. You’ll benefit from access to SNP genotyping array and/or sequencing data from several heart failure and type 2 diabetes clinical trials to support your research.

You will also develop and validate analytical methods for PRS. This will include implementing emerging methods for PRS construction to determine whether utilising the full allelic spectrum of genetic variation (e.g. through the inclusion of rare genetic variants that generally have larger effects compared to common genetic variants) can improve the performance of PRS as a patient stratification tool in clinical trials. By integrating PRS with the rich clinical and biomarker data you will help define the physiological mechanisms underlying the effect of PRS stratification and predict potential disease-related complications/adverse events.

You will be a valued member of the Genome Analytics & Informatics team at the Centre for Genomics Research. Your research will benefit from external academic supervision from Prof Michael Inouye at the University of Cambridge, and as a Visiting Scientist you can attend Prof Inouye’s regular group meetings and other academic seminars. Our network will provide you with the opportunity to collaborate with world-leading experts in large-scale human genomics within and outside of AstraZeneca. Your research is expected to lead to high-quality peer-reviewed publications and presentations at national and international meetings.

Qualification, Skills & Experience


  • A PhD (or equivalent) in human genomics, statistical genetics, bioinformatics, computational biology or related field
  • Expertise in the analysis of large-scale human genetic data, e.g., SNP genotyping array and/or sequencing data
  • Experience in applied statistics for human genomics analysis
  • Coding skills appropriate for large-scale human genomics analysis (e.g., R, Perl, Python, UNIX, Bash, Slurm)
  • Understanding of, or interest in, the application of genomics to drug discovery and precision medicine approaches
  • Strong communication skills, including manuscript writing and oral presentations
  • Excellent planning, organising and prioritising skills
  • Ability to see opportunities, learn, and apply that learning to solve problems and drive innovation
  • Good networking, collaboration and teamworking skills


  • Experience in constructing and applying polygenic risk scores in large-scale genetic datasets using established tools (e.g., PLINK, LDPred, PRSice, etc.)
  • Familiarity with gene-based approaches for the analysis of rare genetic variants
  • Track record of first-authored work published in reputable scientific journals

This is a 3-year programme. 2 years will be a Fixed Term Contract, with a 1-year extension which will be merit based.

Ready for an exciting, rewarding challenge? Apply today!

Advert Opens: 26th October, 2021

Advert Closes: 5th December, 2021

If you require any reasonable adjustments or accommodations during your application or interview process, please let us know.

AstraZeneca embraces diversity and equality of opportunity. We are committed to building an inclusive and diverse team representing all backgrounds, with as wide a range of perspectives as possible, and harnessing industry-leading skills. We believe that the more inclusive we are, the better our work will be. We welcome and consider applications to join our team from all qualified candidates, regardless of their characteristics. We comply with all applicable laws and regulations on non-discrimination in employment (and recruitment), as well as work authorization and employment eligibility verification requirements.

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