Group Leader – Tissue Biology and Disease Modelling

Key information

  • Location: Barcelona, Spain
  • Staff category: Staff Member
  • Job type: Science Faculty
  • Contract duration: 5 years (renewable)
  • Grading: 9
  • Closing date: 17 January 2021
  • Reference number: BA00056

Continue reading for more information about this position, or apply now.

About this position

EMBL Barcelona is a research unit focusing on Tissue Biology and Disease Modelling. We aim to go beyond the molecular and cellular scale, integrating gene circuits with a tissue-level quantitative understanding of tissues and organs, both healthy and diseased. Developing and using in vitro 3D tissue models, such as organoids and other related approaches, will be essential for a better understanding of diseases, particularly as it allows us to go beyond animal models, and to experiment on complex human tissues in a controlled environment. We are thus now seeking outstanding candidates to lead a new independent group on the biology and/or tissue engineering of in vitro 3D tissues, with a view towards disease modelling. The new group will join a vibrant young research unit, which currently covers embryonic organoids, organ development, in vitro vascular models and disease modelling.

Your role

You will lead an independent research group to pursue highly ambitious and original research goals. You will be embedded in the multidisciplinary and collaborative environment of EMBL, which provides many opportunities for interaction with other research groups. EMBL generally appoints group leaders early in their career and provides a very supportive, collegial and family friendly environment in which to develop exciting, cutting-edge research. Significant core funding and very limited teaching obligations allow you undertake an ambitious, competitive research program.

You have

You have an outstanding Ph.D. and post-doctoral record in a relevant scientific topic (in biology, physics, engineering or other relevant topic). You have strong experience in the field of 3D tissue culture – ideally in the field of organoid models of disease, and a track-record of exciting scientific achievements.

You must have a novel research proposal which ideally combines:

  • Scientific questions – advancing the state of understanding of how 3D tissues grow and organise themselves or respond to disease (whether at a molecular, cellular or mechanical level).
  • Technological advances – improving the state-of-the-art in growing, controlling and engineering in 3D tissues, particularly with a goal towards modelling diseases.

Within this broad framework, topics we are particularly interested in are: combining multiple cell types, iPS-based models, organoids, disease modelling, and regenerative biology. Projects involving the microbiome, or the immune system are also encouraged.

In addition, you should have strong interpersonal skills to develop effective relationships and to provide leadership and guidance to team members. The ability to work independently and to participate in a collaborative team effort is desirable, as is a pro-active and positive problem solving mind-set. Fluency in English is essential. 

You might also have

EMBL’s future scientific directions include a number of new transversal research areas:

Particularly relevant to EMBL Barcelona is Theory@EMBL, which aims to bring a quantitative and theoretical perspective to understanding of complex biological systems. Some of our existing groups already pursue theoretical/mathematical modelling integrated with their experimental research, and we consider that experience or interest in mathematical or computer modelling will also be favourable for this GL position, although it is not a prerequisite.

EMBL’s new research areas aim to advance our understanding of ecosystems at the molecular level, applying expertise in molecular biology to study life in its natural context (Molecules to Ecosystems). These themes will study how organisms interact with each other and respond to environmental change, at multiple levels (molecules, cells, tissues and populations). EMBL Barcelona would be happy to host researchers whose in vitro tissue research might relate to any of these new transversal themes - Planetary Biology, Microbial Ecosystems, Infection Biology and Human Ecosystems.

Why join us

EMBL appoints group leaders from early in their career and provides a very supportive environment for your first independent position in order to achieve your research goals. The initial “Lead your Lab” management training is provided for all incoming group leaders.

EMBL offers a highly collaborative, uniquely international culture. The various EMBL units are strongly connected and cross-unit collaborations are not only possible but also strongly encouraged. We foster top quality, interdisciplinary research by promoting a vibrant environment consisting of young independent research groups with access to outstanding graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and core facilities.

EMBL is an inclusive, equal opportunity employer offering attractive conditions and benefits appropriate to an international research organization with a very collegial and family friendly working environment. The remuneration package comprises a competitive salary, a comprehensive pension scheme, medical, educational and other social benefits, as well as financial support for relocation and installation, including your family. EMBL is committed to internationality, diversity and equality, and as such encourages applications from underrepresented groups. 

What else you need to know

We are Europe’s flagship research laboratory for the life sciences – an intergovernmental organisation performing scientific research in disciplines including molecular biology, physics, chemistry and computer science. We are an international, innovative and interdisciplinary laboratory with more than 1700 employees from many nations, operating across six sites, in Heidelberg (HQ), Barcelona, Hinxton near Cambridge, Hamburg, Grenoble and Rome.

The working language of the institute is English.

In your online application, you will be asked to include a cover letter, your CV, the names and contact details of 3 referees and a concise description of research interests & future research plans, typically not exceeding five pages.

Interested candidates are encouraged to make informal enquiries to the Head of Site, James Sharpe (, to learn more about this opportunity.

Further information about research at EMBL Barcelona can be found at

Information on Group Leader appointments can be found under

Online interviews are planned in the week of 15 February 2021.

An initial contract of 5 years will be offered to the successful candidate. This is foreseen to be extended to a maximum of 9 years, subject to an external review.

Please apply online through:

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