Career, Science

Come and work with me: Postdoc in Evolutionary biology of cancer

Tired of viruses and fruit flies? Want to work on something really important for a change? Come and help us to figure out cancer evolution!

We are looking for outstanding candidates to work on inferring patterns of tumor evolution from genomics data. We work with a close group of clinical collaborators, both locally and internationally, who will provide multi-sample bulk sequencing and single-cell data sets. We plan to adapt methods from population genetics and phylogenetics to the cancer setting. Key questions will be to compare mutation rates and selection hotspots between the genomes of cancer clones.

This position is ideal for somebody trained in evolutionary biology in model systems to make the transition to biomedical applications in cancer.

The successful applicant will have a PhD in a quantitative field like mathematics, statistics, physics, engineering, bioinformatics, or computer science. A background in evolutionary biology, molecular evolution or population genetics is highly desired. The applicant should have a good biological background and excellent computing skills. The atmosphere at CI is very collaborative and interactive; good communication skills are key.

To apply, please visit


  1. Beerenwinkel et al (2014) Cancer evolution: mathematical models and computational inference, Systematic Biology.
  2. Ross and Markowetz (2016), OncoNEM: Inferring tumour evolution from single-cell sequencing data, Genome Biology, 17:69
  3. Schwarz et al (2015), Spatial and temporal heterogeneity in high-grade serous ovarian cancer: a phylogenetic reconstruction, PLoS Med, 12(2)
  4. Yuan et al (2015), BitPhylogeny: A probabilistic framework for reconstructing intra-tumor phylogenies, Genome Biology, 16:36
Career, Science

#scidata16 follow-up

More publications, more grants, more awesome! Here is my #scidata16 talk on youtube:

And here is Jonathan Page reporting on my talk in Naturejobs:

The problem lies in the fact that working reproducibly often requires some time investment, something which many scientists working in competitive fields claim they can’t afford. Florian Markowetz from the University of Cambridge counters these claims by saying “not to ask what you can do for reproducibility, but to ask what can reproducibility do for you!”

Indeed I do.


Career, Science

It’s always good to hear the Boss say nice things …

In case you couldn’t get enough of this Future Leader buzz … here is the official Cancer Research UK blog about it:

And this is Simon Tavare, the director of my Institute, nominating me while carefully avoiding to say my name.

Maybe the people who did the interview thought it might save money and time should someone else with a very similar profile ever  be nominated by Simon in the future and they could just reuse the video:



Career, Science

Look what I got for my birthday: a plastic C. Thank you, CRUK!

Last week was my birthday.

Thank you! Very kind of you.

No, I don’t mind you asking: I turned 29.

Yes, 29.

Yes … just like last year.

Yes … and the year before that.

How about we change the subject, if you don’t mind. Any other questions?

What did I  get for my birthday?

Well, books mostly.

I always get books.

I got so many this time, it will be hard to read them all before my next birthday.

Yes,  that will also be my 29th. Stop asking!

Anything else? Oh, yes, now that you mention it. I also got a plastic C.

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Career, Science

Making peer review more transparent … and earning bragging rights!

How do you procrastinate? In my case, when deadlines loom, I suddenly feel the urge to upload all my personal information to some randomly selected web-service that promises to make me rich and famous … or at least a better human being or scientist.

The latest thing I went for is called Publons.

Publons works with the world’s top publishers so you can effortlessly track, verify and showcase your peer review contributions across the world’s journals.

And who wouldn’t want to work with the world’s top publishers?

So I signed up for it. Check out my profile here.

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Career, Science

3 open positions in Roland Schwarz’ new lab in Berlin

The Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine (Berlin) and the Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology (BIMSB) invite applications for

  1. PhD student (10681/2016)
  2. Postdoc (10680/2016)
  3. Scientific Programmer (10682/2016)

in the research group “Evolutionary and cancer genomics” of Dr Roland Schwarz.

The Schwarz lab investigates the relationship between genetic variation and complex phenotypes from an evolutionary perspective. A focus is thereby on the aetiology and functional implications of intra-tumour heterogeneity in human cancers. We are particularly interested in understanding the effect of structural variants and copy-number changes on cancer evolution in-vivo and closely collaborate with clinical partners to achieve this goal.

Send your application to and mention the reference number 1068x/2016 where x is in {0,1,2}.


Career, Science

Open positions – cancer evolution and networks

I have three open positions in my lab:

  1. A PhD student position for “Single-cell analysis of cancer evolution”
  2. A postdoc position for “Evolutionary biology in cancer”. This position is ideal for somebody trained in evolutionary biology in model systems to make the transition to biomedical applications in cancer.
  3. And finally a postdoc position broadly advertised as “Computational cancer genomics” but actually having a strong network focus.

More info here

Any questions, just contact me directly.


Career, Science

Why science needs continuous leadership support

Hello, my fellow PIs, here is a question for you: Did you get trained well for your job?

Silly question, of course you did. Years of study and examinations culminating in a PhD have obviously trained you well in all things science.

But that’s not what I mean. Details of experiments and algorithms –what you learn in a PhD– are only a small part of a PI’s job. Once you start leading a group, the tough nuts to crack are people-problems.

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Career, Duty Calls, Science

“Superstar professors with massive research groups are bad for science.” I agree.

‘My professor demands to be listed as an author on many of my papers’ writes an anonymous scientist in the Guardian.

[T]here’s one instance where it’s acceptable for scientists to lie: when fraudulently claiming authorship of a paper.

Too often, researchers attach their names to reports when they have contributed nothing at all to the work.

The problem gets worse the higher up the academic ladder you go.

I think this is completely true.

The reasons are manifold:

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Career, Science

Forget about your animal friends – how to draft a recommendation letter

Marcia McNutt, Editor-in-Chief of Science, wrote a thoughtful Editorial about recommendation letters:

I noted an overall bias in the language used to describe the male candidates versus some of the female candidates. In some letters, women were described as “friendly,” “kind,” “pleasant,” “humble,” and frequently, “nice.”

[O]ne letter described how the candidate was so good to her elderly mother, yet still enjoyed life, spending time in nature with her husband and her animal friends.

Another letter reflected amazement that the candidate managed to balance so efficiently being a student, a scientist, and a mother.

But isn’t it good being nice, humble and having lots of animal friends?

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Career, Science

The benefits of being a big name. Or: In science your name is your brand

Being a big name in science brings benefits, writes Chris Woolston in Nature, but a “study that links scientists’ reputations with their citations triggers online talk.”

And knowing ‘online talk’ it’s save to assume most of it was negative.

So let’s see what it is all about. Woolston summarizes the situation nicely:

“Scientists develop reputations that often work to their advantage.” *

I am happy to hear this: If you have a reputation for doing good work it bloody well should make your life easier.

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Career, Science

And the 2014 Ponder Prize for Teambuilding goes to …

The highlight of every annual Institute Retreat is the team building challenge.

There even is a trophy for it, called the ‘Ponder Prize for Teambuilding’.

This year’s challenge was to build a marble run within 1.5h using only paper and other cheap stuff.

And guess who won the competition!?

No, not them.

It was us!

You can see the prize-winning result in the video below.

The music is straight from the ‘Bavarian feast’ that followed the retreat.