Postdoctoral Fellow positions - Machine Learning in Cancer Research (theoretical and applied)

Key information

  • Location: EMBL Heidelberg
  • Staff category: Postdoctoral Fellow - Science, research and training
  • Contract duration: 3 years
  • Grading: NA
  • Closing date: 11 December 2020
  • Reference number: HD01864

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About this position

The research groups of Wolfgang Huber at EMBL and of Sascha Dietrich at the University Hospital Heidelberg are looking for two statisticians / machine learning experts to work on models for single cell multi-omics data from large tumour cohorts. It is intended that one of these positions is more theory-oriented, the other more applied towards the exploitation of a new study and novel datasets in precision oncology using multimodal single cell omics. The positions are funded through a grant from the BMBF, the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research.


The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) is an international scientific research organisation with sites in Heidelberg, Cambridge, Barcelona, Grenoble, Hamburg and Rome. The research group of Wolfgang Huber ( develops computational and statistical methods for emerging experimental techniques aimed at biological discovery and biomedical and biotechnological translation. 

The Faculty of Medicine of the University of Heidelberg is a leading biomedical research institution in Europe; its hospital is one of the largest medical centres in Germany. The research group of Sascha Dietrich aims to bring biology-based individualized treatment of lymphoma and leukemia into clinical practice; they use a systems medicine approach that integrates functional assays, multi-omic profiling, bioinformatic analysis, mathematical modeling and clinical exploitation. 

The two groups form a joint team within the Molecular Medicine Partnership Unit (MMPU) between EMBL and Heidelberg University Hospital. They also collaborate with the German Cancer Research Centre (DKFZ), one of the largest cancer research centres in the world, on single cell omics technologies. Huber is a unit member of the Heidelberg node of the European Lab for Learning and Intelligent Systems (ELLIS).

Altogether, the open positions are placed in a highly motivated, collegial and international scientific environment with unique combined expertise in cell and molecular biology, bioinformatics, mathematical modelling and clinical care, and they provide the opportunity to train in an exciting and promising interdisciplinary area of research.

Your role

Postdoctoral Fellow 1, with primary association with the Huber group, will work on theoretical and conceptual method development, computational implementation and testing/benchmarking on existing and novel data. The objective is the learning of low-dimensional mathematical structures to model and understand tumour heterogeneity dynamics from single cell multimodal omics of large tumour cohorts. He/she will develop and apply methods for disentangling cell type composition and gene expression regulation as a function of tumour heterogeneity across and within patients, and dynamically as a function of disease progression and treatment, using methods including factor analysis, low-dimensional embeddings, manifold learning, autoencoders, or regression. 

Postdoctoral Fellow 2, with primary association with the Dietrich group, will design and develop ways to apply these, and other extant methods to single cell RNA-seq and CITE-seq data from clinical studies of blood cancers (incl. AML, myeloma, DLBCL) and drive biological discovery leading towards translation into clinical follow-up research and exploitation.

You have

Candidates for Position 1 should hold a PhD in mathematics, statistics, computer science, theoretical physics or a related field and have theoretical skills and practical experience in machine learning.

Candidates for Position 2 should hold a PhD in a field of the life sciences and have experience with omics data analyses, a good practical understanding of statistics and machine learning, and excellent skills in data science environments such as R. 

You might also have


Why join us

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 from 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 and the availability of an excellent child care facility on campus.

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 1800 employees from many nations, operating across six sites, in Heidelberg (HQ), Barcelona, Hinxton near Cambridge, Hamburg, Grenoble and Rome. Our other missions are to offer vital services in training scientists, students and visitors at all levels; to develop new instruments and methods in the life sciences and actively engage in technology transfer activities, and to integrate European life science research.

The working language of the institute is English.

Application Instructions

Please apply online through 

Please contact Wolfgang Huber ( for questions.

Additional Information

EMBL is an inclusive, equal opportunity employer offering attractive conditions and benefits appropriate to an international research organisation. Please note that appointments on fixed term contracts can be renewed, depending on circumstances at the time of the review.

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