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Postdoctoral Training Fellow in Human Embryology and Stem Cell Biology Laboratory

Posted by , on 27 June 2016

Closing Date: 15 March 2021



We are seeking a highly motivated and collaborative postdoc in the area of human embryology and stem cell biology to join Dr. Kathy Niakan’s laboratory.


We have identified several transcription factors and components of key signaling pathways that are highly expressed in pluripotent epiblast cells of the developing human embryo. The pluripotent epiblast has the unique potential to give rise to the entire fetus in vivo and can self-renew indefinitely as embryonic stem cells (hESCs) in vitro. Understanding the molecular basis of lineage specification in the early human embryo is of fundamental biological importance and has significant clinical implications for infertility treatment as well as the use of hESCs to treat various diseases. Importantly, the genes we identified as enriched in human embryos are not expressed in mouse embryos at the equivalent developmental stage, further suggesting differences in pluripotency mechanisms between these species.


The aim of the project is to characterise putative regulators of human pluripotency and embryogenesis using currently the most efficient and precise genome editing technique (CRISPR/Cas9) in human embryos and stem cells. This will provide fundamental insights into human biology and facilitate the development of conditions for the establishment of novel human stem cells. We also seek to establish novel human embryonic stem cells by modulating signaling pathways that we have identified as specific enriched and functional in the development of the pluripotent human epiblast.


The successful candidate is likely to be an energetic, focused, and productive individual with a desire to work in a congenial, dynamic, and collaborative research environment. Good organisational, analytical, and communication skills are essential.




Dr Niakan’s laboratory focuses on understanding the mechanisms of lineage specification in human embryos and the derivation of novel human stem cells. Details of research projects currently being undertaken can be seen at:

Research techniques used in the laboratory include: molecular biology, advanced microscopy and image quantification, human and mouse preimplantation embryo culture and micromanipulation, genome modification, genome-wide techniques including single-cell RNA-sequencing, human embryonic and induced pluripotent stem cell derivation.



In this project, some of the specific objectives could include, but not be limited to:

  • Stem cell derivation from embryos
  • Reprogramming using induced pluripotent stem cell approaches
  • Genome editing using CRISPR-Cas9
  • Genomic profiling of early human embryos and microdissected cells
  • Ensuring the design and implementation of the project
  • Liaising with collaborators within the Crick, the UK and abroad
  • Writing and contributing to the preparation of scientific manuscripts, reports, presentations and records of experimental plans and results
  • Working closely with the Group Leader and other team members to report on the results via publications
  • Supervising and providing technical advice to more junior members of the team when appropriate




The Francis Crick Institute has a distinctive vision of how biomedical research is conducted. It is one of the most significant projects in UK biomedical science for a generation. The institute’s labs have an international reputation for cutting edge research into basic biology and are committed to training the next generation of research scientists.


On 1 April 2015, staff from the London Research Institute (CRUK) and National Institute for Medical Research (MRC) transferred to the Crick to form a fully functional research institute on four sites. In 2016, the Crick will move to a single new, purpose built research centre in St. Pancras which will house some 1,500 staff.



The post holder should embody and demonstrate our core Crick values: Bold, Imaginative, Open, Dynamic and Collegial, in addition to the following:


  • PhD in the areas of Developmental Biology, Stem Cells, Molecular Biology or similar (or in the final stages of PhD submission)
  • Good knowledge and experience in molecular biology and microscopy
  • Technical expertise in embryo and/or cell culture
  • Proven track record of research (i.e. publication record)
  • Excellent communication skills required – both oral and written presentation
  • Ability to communicate ideas and results effectively and interact fluidly with computational biologists
  • Ability to work independently and organise own workload
  • Ability to design experiments, report on research progress and outcomes openly and review methodologies in response to feedback
  • Highly motivated, organized and analytical
  • Ability to update knowledge in the specialist area and implement relevant technologies to advance the project



  • Experience in preimplantation mouse or human embryo culture
  • Experience in human and mouse pluripotent stem cell culture
  • Experience in preparing samples for advanced sequencing
  • Experience in genome editing using CRISPR-Cas9 technology
  • Experience in lentivirus production and transduction


Postdoctoral Training Fellows are expected to lead their own projects, contribute to other projects on a collaborative basis (both in the lab and with external collaborators) and guide PhD students in their research. The ability to work in a team is essential.

If you are interested in applying for this role please apply through our online system: 

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