Three UCL Excellence Fellowships, London UK

November 15, 2012 § 1 Comment

University College London -UCL Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences
UCL Reference: 1292831
Salary range: Grade 8 (£39,818 – £46,972 per annum), or Grade 9 (£51,052 – £55,512), depending on experience, inclusive of London Allowance.

UCL is one of the world’s most prestigious, research-led universities, ranked 4th in the world and 2nd in Europe (2012/13 QS World University Rankings). UCL’s Excellence Fellowship Programme seeks to recruit and develop the best early career scientists, supporting them in an environment that fosters academic excellence and creativity to become the leaders of the future.

The current round seeks candidates working in research areas relevant to UCL and the new Francis Crick Institute (, of which UCL is a founding partner. Due to open nearby to UCL in 2015, the Crick promises to be one of the most significant developments in UK biomedical science for a generation.

Fellowships are available within UCL School of Life and Medical Sciences (SLMS) and UCL Faculty of Maths and Physical Sciences (MAPS). Please note that this advertisement is for those based in MAPS. Please search for ‘UCL Excellence Fellowships – SLMS’ to apply for a fellowship based in SLMS.

The posts are funded for 3 years in the first instance.

Applications are welcome from researchers in any area of science involving a physical-biomedical multidisciplinary approach, with a high priority on Computational, Mathematical, Chemical and Biomaterials sciences, although applicants from other fields will also be welcome. Successful candidates will be expected to have (i) a PhD, (ii) a strong publication record in internationally leading journals, (iii) a novel and challenging research agenda which will advance the strategic objective of UCL and its engagement with the Crick Institute, (iv) demonstrable creativity, and v) clear leadership potential.

All UCL Excellence Fellows will be expected to undertake research that aligns with the strategy of both UCL and the Francis Crick Institute, and to promote and participate in collaborative links with the Crick Institute’s other partners – the MRC National Institute for Medical Research, CR-UK London Research Institute, Imperial College London and King’s College London.

Apply here.  Please provide  a full CV and a research proposal to include a statement of research vision and ambition. Enquiries should be directed to .
We particularly welcome female applicants and those from an ethnic minority, as they are under-represented within UCL at this level.

UCL Taking Action for Equality

Closing Date: 7/12/2012

Another spot-on comic from XKCD

November 14, 2012 § 1 Comment

Nice to see Randall Munroe return to mathematical snark.

Theory Lunch this week

October 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

A programmable DNA origami shuttle to study the dynamics of motor protein ensembles

26 October 2012, 12:00-1.30 pm, Warren Alpert 563 – HMS
Samara Reck-Peterson
Department of Cell Biology
Harvard Medical School

Bi-directional microtubule-based transport in eukaryotic cells drives the movement of intracellular components, allowing cells to move, divide, communicate with neighboring cells, and maintain cellular homeostasis. We built a system composed of both biological and synthetic parts to determine how the opposite-polarity molecular motors dynein and kinesin achieve bi-directional transport of cargo on microtubules. We used three-dimensional DNA origami to build a synthetic cargo structure, to which cytoplasmic dynein and kinesin-1 motors can be linked. The modularity of DNA origami allows us to control cargo size and shape and precisely encode the type, number, density, and spacing of motors. I will discuss our recent empirical studies, which investigate how motor number and type affects cargo movement in vitro.

TL schedule here.

Group leader positions in London

October 23, 2012 § Leave a comment


The Cancer Research UK London Research Institute is currently recruiting Junior Group Leaders. The LRI is the largest research institute funded by Cancer Research UK, the largest independent cancer research organisation in Europe. Its research focusses on the analysis of fundamental biological processes involved in cancer. The Institute’s international staff work in 50 research groups at the Institute’s two London laboratory sites at Clare Hall (South Mimms) or Lincoln’s Inn Fields (central London).

In 2015 the LRI will be absorbed into the new Francis Crick Institute, housed in a state-of-the-art laboratory building currently under construction at St Pancras, London. The Crick will use interdisciplinary approaches to investigate the biology of human health and disease, and will work with scientists and research institutions across the UK. In addition to researchers from LRI, the Crick’s research portfolio – some 1500 researchers in over 120 research groups – will be developed from the MRC National Institute for Medical Research, and three London universities: UCL, King’s College London, and Imperial College London.

These positions thus offer a tremendous opportunity for an ambitious young scientist to establish a world-class research programme in an interactive and supportive environment. LRI research groups are extremely well supported: there is no requirement to obtain external grant funding, there are no teaching responsibilities, and we benefit from centrally funded cutting-edge core technology facilities.

LRI is focussed on the broad area of cancer biology, and particularly interested in the following fields:

Tumour Biology: tumour-host interactions, cancer models, human cancer genomics
Genome integrity: Chromosome Biology, DNA damage, Cell Cycle regulation
Computational Biology: Bioinformatics, biological networks, image processing

Applications should be submitted online.

Deadline November 30.

Theory Lunch this week

October 18, 2012 § Leave a comment

What cell shape oscillations tell us about cortical actin-microtubule interactions and amoeboid migration

Friday, 19 Oct 2012, 12:00-1:30 pm, Warren Alpert 563, HMS

Kenneth Jacobson
Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Many cellular responses to environmental stimuli involve large-scale changes in cell morphology. For example signaling molecules, such as hormones or growth factors, can induce cell differentiation, proliferation, or migration. These global changes in cell shape are highly coordinated and require dynamic regulation of the actin cytoskeleton. Therefore understanding how the actin and microtubule cytoskeleton and associated regulatory proteins function as an integrated system is a central challenge for cell biology. The morphological oscillations that occur during cell spreading are ideally suited for performing a systems-level investigation into the biochemical and biomechanical mechanisms that drive changes in cell shape. In the broader context, these oscillations constitute a mechanochemical prototype of how signaling networks regulate cytoskeletally driven mechanical behavior that in turn feeds back to modulate the signaling network. Importantly, fluorescently labeled cytoskeletal proteins and fluorescent biosensors allow dynamic structural features of the actin-based cortex and spatiotemporal activity of signaling molecules and visualized. I will discuss what we know about the dynamic structural changes in the actin cortex during oscillations, how Rho proteins regulate these oscillations, how this model may be related to amoeboid migration and emerging theoretical models for this phenotype. If time permits, I will also discuss a new paradigm for membrane domains based on pathogen receptors located on the surface of dendritic cells.

TL schedule here.

Tim Mitchison helps NIGMS celebrate turning 50

October 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

Tune in tomorrow, October 17 at 1pm to see NIGMS’s celebration of 50 years of supporting basic research.


Carlos D. Bustamante, Ph.D.
Professor of Genetics
Stanford University School of Medicine
Population Genetics in the Personal Genome Era: Genomics for the World

Kathy M. Giacomini, Ph.D.
Professor of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences, Pharmaceutical Chemistry, and Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology
Co-Chair, Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences
University of California, San Francisco
Shifting Paradigms for Pharmacologic Research

Tim Mitchison, Ph.D.
Hasib Sabbagh Professor of Systems Biology
Deputy Chair, Department of Systems Biology
Harvard Medical School
Microtubules: From Basic Biology to Cancer Drugs and Back Again

Direct link to the live video feed here.  If you miss it, it will be archived here.

New Biomathematics seminar: Starts Weds next week!

October 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Here are the details on the inaugural Biomathematics Seminar presentation:

Alison L. Hill – Biophysics Program, Harvard University
Going viral: Modeling the dynamics of HIV treatment
Harvard School of Public Health, FXB Building, Room G13, Wednesday October 17th, 4-5 pm

Abstract: I’m a graduate student in Biophysics and HST, and work with Martin Nowak at the Program for Evolutionary Dynamics on the Cambridge campus. My research uses mathematical models to understand how diseases spread and evolve at multiple scales, with a particular focus on the dynamics of anti-HIV drugs. I will discuss our recent work focusing on two of the major shortcomings of current antiretroviral drugs used against HIV – the development of drugs resistance, particularly in patients with suboptimal adherence, and the inability of these drugs to completely eradicate the infection from the body. First, I will discuss techniques we have developed to study the emergence of drug-resistant HIV within a patient, highlighting how we integrate models with laboratory data and measures of patient behavior. I will present results on how pharmacological properties of antiretroviral drugs affect the generation and selection of resistance mutations, and our attempts to realistically simulate clinical trials. Secondly, I will discuss our models of a new drug class, which may be capable of reversing viral latency and hence permanently curing patients with HIV. We can predict the threshold efficacy required of these investigational drugs and suggest important output metrics for planned drug trials. Our preliminary results suggest that the field may be overly optimistic about the potential of current drug candidates, but that a few important yet unknown parameters prevent definitive assessment. These projects are conducted in collaboration with Bob Siliciano’s group at Johns Hopkins.

Schedule for future talks here.