Postdoctoral Training Fellow - Gene Function

12/08/2018, 23:55

Breast Cancer Research
Gene Function
Full time
Fixed Term
2 years in the first instance
35 hours
£30,410 - £40,008
The Institute of Cancer Research, London, is one of the world’s most influential cancer research institutes, with an outstanding record of achievement dating back more than 100 years. We provided the first convincing evidence that DNA damage is the basic cause of cancer, laying the foundation for the now universally accepted idea that cancer is a genetic disease. Today, The Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) leads the world at isolating cancer-related genes and discovering new targeted drugs for personalised cancer treatment. Under the leadership of our Chief Executive, Professor Paul Workman FRS, the ICR is ranked as the UK’s leading academic research centre. Together with our partner The Royal Marsden, we are rated in the top four cancer centres globally.

The Breast Cancer Now Toby Robins Research Centre at the ICR, led by Professor Andrew Tutt, is the first centre in the UK entirely devoted to breast cancer research and its goal is to advance research into the causes, diagnosis and treatment of breast cancer. Formerly known as The Breakthrough Toby Robins Breast Cancer Research Centre, at The Institute of Cancer Research, London, it is located in state-of-the-art laboratory space, with excellent core facilities and funding. The ICR is committed to attracting, developing and retaining the best minds in the world to join us in our mission – to make the discoveries that defeat cancer.

The Gene Function Laboratory, headed by Professor Chris Lord, focuses upon identifying and understanding tumour specific dependencies, such as synthetic lethal effects, as a means to design novel approaches to treating cancer. We have made major advances in identifying synthetic lethal interactions involving, for example, PARP inhibitors (Farmer et al Nature (2005), Edwards et al Nature (2008), Bajrami et al, Cancer Research (2014)), ATR inhibitors (Williamson et al, Nature Communications (2016)) and ROS1 inhibitors (Bajrami et al, Cancer Discovery (2018)). Using this same concept we have also systematically identified synthetic lethal interactions in breast cancer (Brough et al, Cancer Discovery (2011), Campbell et al, Cell Reports (2016)). We also use genetic approaches to understand the mechanisms of action of agents that target the DNA damage response (Pettitt et al; Krastev et al Nature Communications (2018)) We aim to generate pre-clinical information that can inform the design of clinical trials and the identification of novel targets for drug discovery programmes.

We are seeking highly motivated Postdoctoral Training Fellows to study synthetic lethal effects, with the express aim of developing optimised treatment approaches for cancer. We have positions available in two subject areas:

  • Targeting vulnerabilities associated with loss of the Rb tumour suppressor in breast cancer, building on our recent work in this area (Witkiewicz et al. Cell Rep. (2018), Brough et al. Oncogene (2018)). This will involve identifying potential drug targets and sensitivity biomarkers for patients with Rb loss, as well as studying effective drug combinations and mechanisms of resistance.
  • Targeting vulnerabilities associated with loss of the E-cadherin tumour suppressor in lobular breast cancer, building on our recent work in this area which identified vulnerabilities to the ROS1 inhibitors in these cancers (Bajrami et al, Cancer Discovery (2018)). The successful applicant will extend this work to find potential combination therapies with clinical ROS1 inhibitors such as crizotinib and carry out further research into potential crizotinib resistance mechanism to inform an ongoing clinical trial based on this research.

The successful applicants will use a combination of high-throughput in vitro and in vivo functional genomic approaches. These may include the use of RNA interference, CRISPR-Cas9 and drug screens. We would expect successful candidates to contribute to the development of a project and research plan that makes the most of the resources and interests of the laboratory as well as the candidate’s specific skill set and experience.


Candidates should possess a PhD in biology, genetics or other associated subjects, experience in molecular and cellular biology and a strong track record of high quality biomedical research as exemplified by their publication record. Successful applicants will enjoy working in an interdisciplinary environment with our internal and external biology, clinical, pathology and computational biology collaborators. The post holders will be fast learners, and will be motivated to explore new subjects.


Appointments will be made in the salary range £30,410 p.a. to £40,008 p.a. inclusive. Starting salary will be based on previous postdoctoral experience.


Informal enquiries are welcome and can be made via email to Dr Stephen Pettitt ( Please note – this address is for enquiries only and you should not send your application to this email address.


We consider all applications on merit and have a strong commitment to enhancing the diversity of our staff.
Additional Documentation for Candidates

This Program is closed to applications.