Postdoctoral Fellow Programme

Postdoctoral Fellow Programme

Postdoctoral Fellows Programme at the Wellcome Sanger Institute

When you join us as a Postdoc, you will benefit from a unique learning environment. We produce and analyse genetic and biological data on a scale unmatched by other institutes in Europe.

We pride ourselves in offering a first-class and well-resourced exceptional learning environment to equip individuals with the knowledge and skills they will need for a successful career in science.

Research with impact

Training and developing scientists is key to our ongoing research programmes at the Sanger Institute. You will make a significant contribution to the progress of biomedical research.

To support you, we have developed a career model for Postdocs where you will hold a time-limited position. These tend to run for three to five years. (Periods on third-party funding will count towards this timeframe.)

The Programme

Working with genomic dataWellcome Sanger Institute, Genome Research Limited

We are aiming to train a cadre of internationally competitive scientists who understand genomic methodologies and analytical tools, so that they are able to work with large genomic data sets and biological resources. This training will enable these scientists to make significant contributions to the progress of biomedical research.

In order to facilitate the transfer of Postdocs between employers in the academic sector, the Sanger Institute operates a dedicated Postdoc incremental pay scale. Pay on appointment will take into account a range of factors including nature and extent of postdoctoral experience, academic and research record, publications and other scientific achievements. Postdocs will receive incremental increases with the rate of progression, determined by an individual's level of contribution. In common with other staff, this will be assessed as part of the salary review each year with revised rates of pay taking effect on 1 January each year. Individuals who have submitted their thesis, but who have not yet had their PhD awarded, will be placed on a transitional pay point pending confirmation of their degree.

The Institute provides Postdocs with a flexibly-structured programme of transferable skills training and excellent career guidance opportunities, which are overseen by the Postdocs Development Committee. Postdocs have an annual performance review/appraisal meeting with their line manager, and their progress towards the attainment of research and development objectives is monitored.

The key elements of our Postdoctoral programme include:

  • Provision of support for Postdoctoral scientists through a period of early career research training.
  • Planning, developing and carrying out research under the direction of a member of Faculty or other senior scientist.
  • Acquisition and refinement of the knowledge and skills (field-specific and transferable) necessary to provide a foundation for a career in science.
  • Flexibly-structured programme of core transferable skills training.
  • Regular assessment of progress against research and development objectives.
  • Formal review in final year to assess achievement against objectives and to evaluate career options.
  • Time-limited positions with a clear expectation that individuals will move on to positions elsewhere.
  • Personal salary support from either core Institute or third party funding. Encouragement to compete for prestigious and other well-resourced external fellowships.

Recruitment and Employment process

We welcome applications and approaches from committed and talented individuals who would like to spend time at the Sanger Institute as part of their postdoctoral training. There are a number of routes in:

  • Applying for advertised positions on our website and in the scientific press. Current opportunities can be found on the Sanger Jobsite where you can also register your interest in future opportunities by setting up a profile.
  • Approaching Faculty members directly, particularly where you already have well-developed ideas on a research direction.
  • Obtaining your own fellowship with the sponsorship of a Sanger Institute Faculty member. All Postdoctoral Fellows (Postdocs) are encouraged to seek their own independent funding either prior to their arrival or once at the Institute.
  • Applying for the Janet Thornton Fellowship, if you have had a break from scientific research for one year or more.


Discussions in the grounds of the Sanger InstituteWellcome Sanger Institute, Genome Research Limited

Generally Postdoctoral Fellow (Postdoc) applicants will have recently completed their PhD or first postdoc and be seeking a period of early career research training. This distinguishes them from PhD qualified individuals following other career pathways. They may also be medically qualified individuals wishing to spend more time in research as part of their broader scientific training, after completing their PhD or an equivalent qualification. PDF positions are not intended for more experienced or established scientists.

Postdocs may be in their first or second postdoctoral position or other variation but must satisfy the training criteria. Some will have recently completed their PhD; others will already have held a postdoctoral position elsewhere. No Postdoc is likely therefore to be more than six to seven years post-PhD by the end of their appointment. Postdoc positions are not intended for more experienced or established scientists.

Training and Development

The Institute provides Postdoctoral Fellows (Postdocs) with a flexibly-structured programme of transferable skills training and excellent career guidance opportunities.

Postdoc training and development is overseen by the Postdoc Development Committee, which consists of Faculty members, Postdoc representatives, a representative from Human Resources and the Institute's Graduate Programme Manager. The main role of the committee is to facilitate the development of all Postdocs through the effective provision and evaluation of training courses and other development opportunities, such as career guidance. The committee is also responsible for reviewing any policies which may have an impact on Postdoc development.

The Institute provides a number of training opportunities for Postdocs including:

  • EMBO lab management course
  • Project management
  • Science communication and public engagement
  • Scientific writing

In addition, Postdocs are able to attend any of the courses scheduled as part of the Institute's overall Training and Development Programme and courses/events run by the University of Cambridge Graduate School of Life Sciences.

University of Cambridge affiliation 

All Postdocs at the Institute have access to the University of Cambridge Careers Service as well as becoming eligible to become members of the University of Cambridge Postdoc Society (PdOC) for Life Science Postdoctoral Researchers. They offer individual guidance, interactive workshops and careers conferences on the following themes:

  • Securing an academic career
  • R&D opportunities in industry
  • Non-research career options
  • Excellent opportunity to network with Postdocs based throughout the University and its affiliated institutions

Personal Development

Genomic data discussionsWellcome Sanger Institute, Genome Research Limited

Progress towards the attainment of research and development objectives will be mapped and monitored through discussion with their line manager.

Postdocs are expected to follow a flexibly-structured programme of transferable skills training to help provide a sound foundation for a career in research. This may include options such as: project management, scientific writing, presentation skills, time management and science communication skills. Advanced options for more experienced individuals might include: writing project proposals and grant applications, managing colleagues, finance and resource management.

All Postdocs should have a performance review/appraisal meeting with their line manager on an annual basis. This provides a formal opportunity for review of their progress and agreement on research and development objectives for the next 12 months.

The position of all Postdocs will be reviewed at least six months ahead of the projected end date for their appointment to ensure adequate preparation for the next career step. Career workshops will be available to support individuals in their assessment of career options moving forwards.