Jobs in Structural Biology and Related Fields

Computation Scientist - CCP-EM Software Developer for Electron cryo-Microscopy

STFC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, UK, Harwell Campus, United Kingdom
Application deadline: 29 Mar 2020

The field of electron cryo-microscopy (cryoEM) is one of the most exciting areas of science at present, highlighted by the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 2017. Recent advances have allowed high resolution structures of important proteins and other macromolecular assemblies to be determined that were previously not amenable to existing techniques such as x-ray crystallography and nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy. Such structures allow researchers to visualise the fundamental mechanisms of life and, as such, can play a key role in the discovery of novel drugs.

This role provides a great opportunity to work closely with two pioneers of computational structural biology: Sjors Scheres (author of RELION software, Joint Head of the Structural Studies Division at MRC-LMB) and Gerard Bricogne (director of Global Phasing Limited, the company behind SHARP, BUSTER, autoPROC and STARANISO).

The post will be based in the CCP-EM group located at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) and hosted by the Scientific Computing Department of STFC. The group is a vibrant, open and supportive team of cryoEM software developers and it works closely with neighbouring groups on site including CCP4 (Collaborative Computational Project No. 4: Macromolecular Crystallography), Diamond Light Source Electron Bio-Imaging Centre (eBIC), STFC Scientific Machine Learning Group and Rosalind Franklin Institute. In addition, CCP-EM has a wide collaborative network with more than 10 groups from around the UK and Europe including MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (MRC-LMB) and European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI).

In collaboration with the Scheres group and Global Phasing a new software framework will be developed to combine tools for image processing and 3D volume reconstruction in RELION with the existing tools in CCP-EM for model building, refinement and validation. This will provide an open API to allow integration of third-party algorithms, including software from Global Phasing. This pipeline framework will create/enable:

Enhanced on-the-fly processing for use in data acquisition.
Complete data processing pipeline from images to refined atomic models.
Modern and flexible user interface.
Rich metadata capture suitable for internal record keeping, deposition to EMDB/PDB, and use in the development of ML-based algorithms.

Specific responsibilities include:

  • Reviewing existing codebases and investigating use of suitable third-party libraries
  • Designing and implementing new software framework for pipeline
  • Developing new user interfaces and visualisation tools
  • Liaising with partners to test framework outputs including: eBIC for on-the-fly processing; EBI/EMDB for validation and deposition; STFC Scientific Machine Learning Group for use in ML; pharmaceutical licence holders for provision of end-to-end pipelines (images to models); Global Phasing for integration of external processing routines
  • Assisting Global Phasing with investigations and implementations of Bayesian-based algorithms.

On a day-to-day basis, duties will also include:

  • Developing and maintaining software architecture
  • Open communication with collaborators via site visits and video conferencing
  • Keeping up to date with the latest methodology developments in cryoEM
  • Presenting work through international meetings and publications.

Please contact Tom Burnley ( if you have any queries about this vacancy.

About You

You will be a highly motivated and experienced computational scientist with a track record of effective software engineering. Previous experience with Python is highly desirable, as is knowledge and experience of cryoEM data processing and structural biology.

The post requires extensive interactions with the community of scientists and developers, and therefore you need good communication skills and should be comfortable making scientific presentations and teaching. This role will also require regular travel to other partner sites.

The deadline for applications is 29 March 2020.

For more information and to apply for this role, click here.

Harwell Campus, United Kingdom

Computation Scientist - CCP-EM Software Developer for Electron cryo-Microscopy