Research Fellow in Computational Toxicology - School of Biosciences

Employer
University of Birmingham
Location
Birmingham, United Kingdom
Salary
£30,942.00 - £33,797.00
Posted
Apr 11, 2021
Closes
May 23, 2021
Ref
161498
Organization Type
University and College
Hours
Full Time
Position Details

School of Biosciences, College of Life and Environmental Sciences

Full time starting salary is normally in the range £30,942 to £33,797. As this vacancy has limited funding the maximum salary that can be offered is Grade 7, salary £33,797.

Full Time/FTC, 4 year position (expected end date ca. 31 May 2025)

Grade 7

Background

This new post has been created as part of an exciting new partnership between the UK Food Standards Agency (FSA), UK Health and Safety Executive's Science and Research Centre and the University of Birmingham in computational toxicology. The post will contribute to the creation and translation of knowledge about the application of New Approach Methodologies (NAMs) to the risk assessment of food-related chemicals, with the specific goal to improve and streamline the current risk assessment processes at the FSA. This will be achieved by the post holder undertaking a range of collaborative activities at each of the three partner locations, including an extensive scoping of the applicability of computational NAMs to the FSA, and to analyse data from in vitro 'omics' toxicity studies using benchmark dose modelling and physiologically-based kinetic (PBPK) modelling. A considerable proportion of the role can involve remote working, with travel to each of the partner locations required for particular activities within the project.

Summary of Role
  • To champion the application of New Approach Methodologies (NAMs) - in particular computational toxicology utilising molecular mechanistic data - for the risk assessment of food-related chemicals, creating a hub at the FSA for the interested community.
  • To be a conduit for the multidirectional flow of knowledge and information between the three partners: the Food Standards Agency (FSA), University of Birmingham (UoB) and the Health and Safety Executive's Science and Research Centre (HSE SRC).
  • To deeply scope, understand and assimilate the FSA's problem space in chemical risk assessment in order to help develop a strategy to utilise computational approaches in chemical risk assessment at the FSA, including mapping other related national and international activities.
  • To understand, research and implement new computational methods and modelling approaches working with the scientists at UoB and HSE SRC to more reliably risk assess food-related chemicals, translating knowledge to the FSA.
  • To undertake collaborative case studies with the FSA, HSE SRC and UoB to clearly demonstrate the value of NAMs and computational approaches, including implementing a hazard assessment workflow that integrates in vitro 'omics' toxicity data streams, benchmark dose modelling and physiologically-based kinetic (PBPK) modelling, and to investigate the uncertainties associated with such approaches.
  • To contribute to the wider understanding of the use of NAMs in chemical risk assessment by disseminating findings from this research to national and international regulators, other government agencies, industry and the general public.


Main Duties/Responsibilities
  • Deeply understand the state-of-the-art in the application of New Approach Methodologies (NAMs) in chemical risk assessment, in particular in the context of omics data streams, benchmark dose modelling and physiologically-based kinetic (PBPK) modelling, including via literature reviews, reading reports and research interviews.
  • Deeply understand the applicability of NAMs to chemical risk assessment, in particular in the context of assessing the safety of food-related chemicals in the UK, including via literature reviews, reading reports and research interviews.
  • Scope, understand and assimilate information on the regulation of food-related chemicals in the UK and Europe, with the assistance of the FSA supervisory team.
  • Map the FSA's problem space in chemical risk assessment and develop a strategy to utilise NAMs to improve the reliability, throughput and/or cost-effectiveness of the safety assessments of chemicals, working with the whole supervisory team.
  • As part of one or more case studies, undertake extensive computational analyses of omics (and other molecular mechanistic) data streams, in particular benchmark dose modelling to derive in vitro points of departure.
  • As part of one or more case studies, conduct PBPK modelling to enable quantitative in vitro to in vivo extrapolation (QIVIVE) of chemicals, enabling the in vitro molecular points of departure to be extrapolated to in vivo health-based guidance values.
  • Document assimilated information and results, from the desk based scoping work and the computational analyses, into well-structured, rigorous scientific reports.
  • Disseminate research findings via internal reports, journal publications and website(s), and via posters and seminars at national and international meetings in order to contribute to the wider understanding and uptake of NAMs in chemical risk assessment.
  • Train and assist other scientists in understanding how NAMs can be applied in the risk assessment of food-related chemicals.
  • Contribute to writing bids for research funding.
  • Apply knowledge in a manner which most effectively translates state-of-the-art computational approaches to improve the quality of chemical risk assessment.
  • Deal with problems that may affect the achievement of the research objectives and deadlines.
  • Promote equality and values diversity acting as a role model and fostering an inclusive working culture.
  • Contribute to the planning and organising of the research programme with the supervisory team at UoB, FSA and the HSE SRC.


Person Specification
  • First degree in (bio)chemistry, mathematics, statistics or computer science, and a PhD or equivalent experience in one of these fields applied to toxicology.
  • High level of experience in the computational analysis of transcriptomics, metabolomics and/or molecular mechanistic toxicity data.
  • Familiarity with mathematical modelling approaches and ability to conduct modelling in the context of molecular toxicology.
  • Familiarity with approaches and methods for assessing the safety of chemicals to human and environmental health, and familiarity with Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs).
  • Familiarity with regulations governing the safety of chemicals to human health.
  • High level analytical capability.
  • Hands-on skills in bioinformatics, data science or data analytics.
  • Experience in computer programming (e.g. R-language).
  • Excellent ability to communicate complex information clearly.
  • Excellent ability to work within a diverse team.
  • Well organised and experience in managing multiple projects simultaneously.
  • A high level of accuracy and attention to detail.
  • Ability to work on own initiative, manage time effectively, progress tasks concurrently and work to deadlines, including the ability to work remotely.
  • Ability to assess resource requirements and use resources effectively, including extensive use of remote resources.


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