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Postdocs - Therapeutics

Postdoctoral Fellow, Computational Biology

South San Francisco, California, United States

Who We Are

23andMe, the leading consumer genetics and research company, has accumulated a wealth of genotypic and phenotypic information from participants committed to improving human health through advances in genomics. Our Therapeutics team in South San Francisco leverages this data to discover and develop new treatments that can offer significant benefits for patients with serious, unmet medical needs.

This dedicated research and drug development group identifies novel targets using 23andMe's genetic database and performs preclinical research to advance programs towards clinical development. We currently have programs across several therapeutic areas, including but not limited to oncology, immunology, and cardiovascular diseases. More information about our Therapeutics team is available at https://therapeutics.23andme.com/.

23andMe has committed to the initiation of a postdoctoral fellowship program that would create opportunities to utilize the 23andMe human genetics platform to conduct cutting-edge science and explore novel biology.  Six inaugural fellowships are being offered within the Therapeutics division.  The postdoctoral fellow will be expected to focus on innovative, genetics or biological research questions with a goal of presenting their work externally at scientific meetings and publishing in top-ranked peer-reviewed journals.  This opportunity will allow postdoctoral fellows to gain exposure to the biotechnology industry to either pursue a career in industry or bring the industry perspective back to an academic career. Computational Biology fellowships are for a two-year period, with an optional one-year extension.


Project Summary

We are seeking a talented postdoctoral fellow to join our Computational Biology group in the 23andMe Therapeutics team to investigate the contribution of genetic interactions (epistasis) to the genetic architecture of diseases and complex traits. Successful candidates will be independent and innovative researchers with a passion for large scale data analysis, possess a solid track record of research accomplishments, and thrive on driving forward complex computational projects.

The research project will focus on identifying and validating genetic interactions within the 23andMe research cohort. 23andMe, the leading consumer genetics and research company, has accumulated a wealth of genotypic and phenotypic information from more than ten million participants committed to improving human health through advances in genomics. Given the scale of the data, this postdoctoral fellowship presents a unique opportunity to understand genetic interactions in a way that isn’t possible elsewhere. 

Genetic interactions are defined as a combination of two or more alleles whose contribution to a phenotype cannot be completely explained in an additive manner by their marginal effects. Genetic interactions have been reported to underlie phenotypes in a variety of systems, but the extent to which they contribute to complex diseases in humans remains unclear. In principle, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) provide a platform for detecting genetic interactions in complex diseases. However, despite an abundance of published methods, robust evidence for genetic interactions has remained extraordinarily rare. It has been estimated that sample sizes of >500,000 individuals would be needed to detect significant genetic interactions under reasonable assumptions, which remains beyond the cohort size of a typical GWAS study or even of the large majority of biobanks. With hundreds of phenotypes with a sample size larger than 500,000 participants, the 23andMe research cohort offers an unique opportunity to systematically search for and characterize genetic interactions.

The postdoctoral fellow will work in a multidisciplinary research team supported by an advanced data management and computational infrastructure to perform data analyses, develop and/or implement novel statistical methodology, and publish research results. The postdoctoral fellow will work directly with Dr. Pierre Fontanillas (23andMe Research team) and Dr. Mauro Poggio (23andMe Therapeutics team). 


What You’ll Do

  • Explore and analyze the 23andMe current genetic interaction discovery approach
  • Implement relevant omic-annotations permitting biological characterizations and interpretations of genetic interactions
  • Develop in-silico validation process of genetic interactions
  • Characterize the properties of genetic interactions and contrast across phenotypes
  • Evaluate and implement novel methods for genetic interaction discovery
  • Design and lead in-vitro assays for genetic interaction validation
  • Communicate and collaborate effectively with colleagues to drive progression of the project
  • Publish in high-profile scientific journals
  • Maintain compliance with all company policies and procedures


What You’ll Bring

  • Ph.D. in Computational Biology, Statistical Genetics, Statistics, Computer Science, Molecular Biology, Biophysics, or a related field
  • Successful record of high-quality publications and/or patent applications
  • Excellent organizational, verbal and written communication skills with the ability to work independently and proactively within a team environment
  • Proven ability to work on a cross-functional team and successfully lead a project to decision points
  • Programming competence demonstrated in one or more of these programming languages: Python, R, C++
  • Proven experience with human genetics and genome-wide analyses


Strongly Preferred

  • Experience with GWAS analyses
  • Experience with genome-wide genetic interaction analyses
  • Experience with functional genomics data
  • Experience with in-vitro validation using primary immune cells
  • Experience with genome editing


Note: This role will be hybrid and based in 23andMe's South San Francisco, California office.



Dr. Pierre Fontanillas' Bio

Pierre Fontanillas is a Senior Statistical Geneticist in the 23andMe Research team. He earned his Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, under the supervision of Prof. Nicolas Perrin, where he studied the population genetic basis of dispersal and cold adaptation in small mammals. He then joined Daniel Hartl's lab at Harvard as a postdoctoral fellow where he worked on genome evolution and gene expression in fruit flies. In 2010, Dr. Fontanillas moved to the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT as a Research Scientist, where he worked with the first large sequencing consortia and studied the contribution of rare and common genetic variants to metabolic diseases — Type 2 diabetes, lipids, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases. In 2015, Dr. Fontanillas joined 23andMe and supports therapeutic discovery efforts as well as 23andMe academic and commercial collaborations. Pierre Fontanillas' publications.

Dr. Mauro Poggio's Bio

Mauro Poggio is a Scientist in the 23andMe Therapeutics team. He focused on immune-oncology during his Ph.D. and Postdoc at UCSF, San Francisco, California. During his graduate studies, he studied the interaction between two of the most deadly oncogenes MYC and KRASG12D. During his postdoc studies, he uncovered the presence of PD-L1 in tumor derived exosomes. His graduate student and postdoctoral manuscripts are published in Nature Medicine and Cell. In 2019 Dr. Poggio joined 23andMe and currently leads with his group the most advanced research program in collaboration with GSK.


About Us

23andMe, headquartered in Sunnyvale, CA, is a leading consumer genetics and research company. Founded in 2006, the company’s mission is to help people access, understand, and benefit from the human genome. 23andMe has pioneered direct access to genetic information as the only company with multiple FDA authorizations for genetic health risk reports. The company has created the world’s largest crowdsourced platform for genetic research, with 80 percent of its customers electing to participate. The platform also powers the 23andMe Therapeutics group, currently pursuing drug discovery programs rooted in human genetics across a spectrum of disease areas, including oncology, respiratory, and cardiovascular diseases, in addition to other therapeutic areas. More information is available at www.23andMe.com.

At 23andMe, we value a diverse, inclusive workforce and we provide equal employment opportunity for all applicants and employees. All qualified applicants for employment will be considered without regard to an individual’s race, color, sex, gender identity, gender expression, religion, age, national origin or ancestry, citizenship, physical or mental disability, medical condition, family care status, marital status, domestic partner status, sexual orientation, genetic information, military or veteran status, or any other basis protected by federal, state or local laws.  If you are unable to submit your application because of incompatible assistive technology or a disability, please contact us at accommodations-ext@23andme.com. 23andMe will reasonably accommodate qualified individuals with disabilities to the extent required by applicable law.

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