Head of EMBL Grenoble

Key information

  • Location: Grenoble, France
  • Staff category: Staff Member
  • Job type: Science Faculty
  • Contract duration: 5 years (renewable)
  • Grading: Commensurate
  • Closing date: 28 January 2021
  • Reference number: GR00158

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

About this position

The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) is a world leader in biological research and at the forefront in the development of cutting-edge technologies for the biological sciences. The scientific programme of EMBL emphasizes experimental analysis at multiple levels of biological organisation, from the molecule to the organism, as well as computational biology, bioinformatics and systems biology. The next EMBL programme (2022-2026) “Molecules to Ecosystems” aims to explore the molecular basis of life in context. Building on our current strengths, new themes will include: infection biology, microbial ecosystems, planetary biology, human ecosystems, and theory.

EMBL is an international research organisation publicly funded by more than 25 member states, operating across six sites, in Heidelberg (HQ), Barcelona, Hinxton near Cambridge, Hamburg, Grenoble and Rome.

EMBL is seeking to recruit a visionary leader in structural biology as Head of EMBL Grenoble.

EMBL Grenoble is situated on the European Photon and Neutron (EPN) Campus, along with three other research institutes, the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF), the Institut Laue-Langevin, and the Institut de Biologie Structurale (IBS). In partnership, these institutes create a dynamic and multidisciplinary environment that provides a uniquely comprehensive range of structural biology platforms for both in-house research and external users. EMBL Grenoble and the ESRF jointly develop and operate the beamlines for macromolecular crystallography and small-angle X-ray scattering (SAXS). The ESRF has recently become the world’s first fourth generation synchrotron opening up new exciting opportunities including serial crystallography and X-ray imaging. In addition, EMBL Grenoble participates in a joint cryo-electron microscopy facility on the EPN campus that is likely to develop further in the future. A particular strength of EMBL Grenoble is its leading expertise in designing and building innovative automated instrumentation, providing an invaluable resource of technical know-how and support to aid the structural biology scientific community. Current research at EMBL Grenoble focuses on structural biology of complexes involved in RNA biology, gene expression and host-pathogen interactions, mainly in eukaryotic systems, using the full spectrum of structural biology including X-ray crystallography and cryo-electron microscopy, biochemistry, proteomics and cell biology approaches.

As the opportunities offered by the new synchrotron source as well as by the rapid developments in cryo-electron microscopy evolve, as future Head of EMBL Grenoble, you will be in the exciting position of driving forward a future in integrated structural biology, taking into account the rapidly changing landscape in structural biology, while capitalising on the strong foundation of synergistic activities between research, service and instrumentation.

You will have a decisive role in developing the overall strategy in Grenoble in line with the vision of EMBL’s scientific programme, reporting directly to Edith Heard, EMBL Director General. There is considerable scope for you to develop the research identity and profile of EMBL Grenoble to realise its full potential and deliver excellence. You will have a key role for its realisation, including the hiring and mentoring of research group leaders. As an active scientist and member of EMBL Faculty, you will also maintain scientific and technical contacts internationally at the highest level. You will contribute greatly to the success of EMBL Grenoble and EMBL as a whole, through participation in EMBL’s collegial leadership structure.

Your role

As Head of EMBL Grenoble, you will:


  • be responsible for establishing and developing programmatic priorities and resource planning;
  • advance your own research group;
  • recruit, supervise and mentor faculty members;
  • oversee the provision of Structural Biology services and training for internal and external users;
  • ensure the maintenance of world-class standards of research;
  • guide the on-site preparation for regular programme reviews;
  • identify and pursue opportunities for further development within EMBL Grenoble;
  • nurture the inter-institutional partnerships on the EPN Campus and within Grenoble;
  • work in collaboration with scientific and government partners to develop joint programmes;
  • provide regular information and status reports to the Director General;
  • provide reports as required by EMBL Council and other external committees;
  • interact with the wider scientific community via conferences and special events;
  • participate in senior scientific, strategic and administrative leadership of EMBL.


The tasks are not limited to the above and a flexible approach and ability to adapt to evolving situations in a dynamic organization is required.


You have

As an ideal candidate, you are an enthusiastic and entrepreneurial scientist with an outstanding track record in a field of structural biology and molecular cell biology. Besides bringing scientific vision, you are motivated to work in an open, collaborative environment. Essential requirements for the position include a PhD in the life sciences and at least 10 years' experience in international scientific collaboration. A proven record of substantial management and leadership experience within a scientific organisation, preferably international, is required. You have proven experience with administration management and as well as excellent interpersonal, communication and organisational skills. A high level of proficiency in English is essential. A good working knowledge of French would be desirable.

Key competencies are:

  • the ability to think strategically, to take effective decisions and provide leadership;
  • the capacity to understand the perspective of key decision-makers and partners – to think through their needs and interests to identify their agenda;
  • the ability to build strong and effective links within and outside the organisation;
  • the ability to actively build collaborations with external partners and other scientific organisations, nationally and internationally;
  • initiative, pro-activeness and very good negotiation skills.

You might also have

A good working knowledge of French would be desirable.

Why join us

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 more than 80 countries. Our mission is to offer vital services to scientists in the member states and the world, to train scientists, students and visitors at all levels, to actively engage in technology transfer, technology development, transfer and industry relations and to coordinate and integrate European life science research.

EMBL offers a highly collaborative, uniquely international culture. It fosters 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 organisation 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.


EMBL is committed to internationality, diversity and equality, and as such encourages applications from women and minorities.

What else you need to know

Interviews are planned to take place on 23 March 2021 or 30 April 2021.

Please apply online through www.embl.org/jobs sending a CV and motivation letter.

Questions concerning the role should be sent to the EMBL Director General, Edith Heard, at dg-office[at]embl.org and any queries regarding the terms and conditions should be sent to the Head of Human Resources, Roland Block, at roland.block[at]embl.org.

Please note that this is a tenure-eligible appointment.

Apply now

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For questions or issues with the application process, please contact recruitment@embl.org.

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The European Molecular Biology Laboratory is a single organisation spread across six European sites. Each site hosts its own research units, services, and facilities.