[TYPES/announce] Contract postdoctoral position in Biological Programming Languages at Microsoft Research Cambridge

Andrew Phillips Andrew.Phillips at microsoft.com
Thu Apr 14 10:51:42 EDT 2016

Contract Postdoctoral position in Biological Programming Languages
Microsoft Research, Cambridge, UK - 14th April 2016

Microsoft Research Cambridge has available a 2-year contractor postdoctoral position in research and development of biological programming languages. The position will focus on the development of an environment for programming and analysing biological systems, which supports a family of programming languages and analysis methods. These languages are being used in a number of key scientific projects, from building computational devices in DNA (http://research.microsoft.com/dna) to genetic engineering of living cells (http://research.microsoft.com/gec) to understanding and predicting the response of stem cells (http://research.microsoft.com/rein) and the immune system (http://research.microsoft.com/spim). The candidate will be working in an exciting field at the intersection of computer science and biology, and the results of the project could potentially have broad impact both in academia and industry.

The first objective of the position will be to extend existing biological programming languages with high-level constructs based on feedback from scientific collaborators in DNA computing, Synthetic Biology, and Stem Cell Biology. The language extensions will include high-level interaction mechanisms which mask some of the complexities of the lower-level languages, together with constructs for modelling biological experiments. The candidate will be expected to formalise these extensions using rigorous semantics and to carry out the implementation work in F#. The candidate will have the opportunity to publish the results in leading journals and conferences, working closely with a small team of scientists and software developers.

The second objective of the project will be to integrate multiple biological programming languages within a common platform, which will be connected directly to laboratory equipment for performing biological experiments, both at Microsoft Research and in the university labs of academic collaborators.

The candidate must be willing to work in Cambridge, UK, and the contract is for 2 years, with the possibility of further extensions. Interested candidates should contact Andrew Phillips (firstname.lastname at microsoft.com<mailto:firstname.lastname at microsoft.com>) as soon as possible with a CV, using the subject "Hiring", and submit a formal application at https://research.microsoft.com/apps/tools/jobs/fulltime.aspx , preferably within the next 3 weeks. The position is available from July 2016, however the start date is flexible.

Duration of contract: 2 years
Location: Cambridge, UK
Education: Ph.D. or equivalent in Computer Science.
Required skills:

  *   Strong applied functional programming skills in F# or other functional language.
  *   In-depth knowledge of programming language theory, with a track record of strong publications.
  *   Experience in programming language implementation.
  *   A strong desire to contribute to the scientific community through the development of languages and tools for modelling and simulation of biological systems.
Additional desired skills:

  *   Knowledge of biological simulation algorithms such as Gillespie's Direct Method and Ordinary Differential Equation methods, or ability to understand research articles on related algorithms for subsequent implementation.
  *   Familiarity with process calculi and associated theory.
  *   Experience with implementing inference-based type systems.

Background: The candidate will be based in the Biological Computation Group at Microsoft Research in Cambridge. The group aims to understand and program information processing in biological systems. Current projects include designing molecular circuits made of DNA, and programming single cells that cooperate to perform complex functions over time and space. We also aim to understand the computation performed by stem cells during development, and how the adaptive immune system detects viruses and cancers in the human body. We are tackling these questions through the development of computational models and domain-specific programming languages, in close collaboration with leading scientific research groups. The tools we develop are being integrated into a common modelling platform. Further information about the group is available at http://research.microsoft.com/biology , including links to our software tools, which are freely available for use by the scientific community.

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