Postdoctoral Fellow Programme

Postdoctoral Fellow Programme

When you join us as a Postdoctoral Fellow you will benefit from a unique learning environment. We are proud to 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 Postdoctoral Fellows where you will hold a time-limited position. These tend to run for three to four years. (Periods on third-party funding will count towards this timeframe.)

Postdoctoral Fellow Programme

Our current postdoctoral opportunities can be found on the Sanger Jobsite.

The Programme 

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 you to make contributions to the progress of biomedical research.

In order to facilitate the transfer of Postdoctoral Fellows between employers in the academic sector, the Sanger Institute operates a dedicated incremental pay scale. You will receive incremental increases with the rate of progression, determined by an individual’s level of contribution. The Institute will provide you with a flexibly-structured programme of transferable skills training and excellent career guidance opportunities, which are overseen by the Postdoctoral Fellow Development Committee. You will also have an annual performance review/appraisal meeting with your line manager to advance your research and personal development objectives.

The key elements of our Postdoctoral Fellow programme include:

  • Provision of support for Postdoctoral Fellow 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 e.g. presentation or communication skills.
  • Regular assessment of progress against research and development objectives.
  • Several committees including: The Postdoctoral Fellow Development, Pay and the Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committees.
  • Formal review in final year to assess achievement against objectives and to evaluate career options.
  • Personal salary support from either core institute or third party funding. Encouragement to compete for prestigious and other well-resourced external fellowships.
  • Social events such as: retreats twice a year, monthly seminar series, Summer BBQs and Pub nights, monthly drinks and nibbles, lunches with leaders as well as distinguished lecture series.

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 Fellow 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 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.


Generally, Postdoctoral Fellow applicants will have recently completed their PhD or first Postdoctoral Fellowship 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. Postdoctoral Fellow Positions are not intended for more experienced or established scientists.

Applicants may be in their first or second Postdoctoral Fellow position or other variation but must satisfy the training criteria. No candidate is likely therefore to be more than six to seven years post-PhD by the end of their appointment. Postdoctoral positions are not intended for more experienced or established scientists.

Training and Development

Your training and development is overseen by the Postdoctoral Development Committee, which consists of faculty members, Postdoctoral Fellowship 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 Postdoctoral Fellows 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 your development.

The institute would provide a number of training opportunities for you including:

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

As well as these science-based training opportunities, there also almost 100 other non-scientific training courses for personal development.

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 Postdoctoral Fellows at the institute have access to the University of Cambridge Careers Service and are eligible to become members of the University of Cambridge Postdoc Society (PdOC) for life science postdoctoral researchers. They offer individual guidance, interactive workshops and career 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 of Cambridge and its affiliated institutions

Personal Development Research Limited

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

You are given the opportunity to participate in 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, resource management and leadership skills.

You will also 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 Postdoctoral Fellows 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.

Connect with us on Twitter

Thanks @UTCNorfolk what a fantastic overview of our @engageWCS team in action with our @sangerinstitute colleagues, talking about careers and more, with the next generation of researchers! 👏

Thanks @UTCNorfolk what a fantastic overview of our @engageWCS team in action with our @sangerinstitute colleagues, talking about careers and more, with the next generation of researchers! 👏
UTCNorfolk @UTCNorfolk

Today some of our year 11 and year 13 students visited the Wellcome Sanger Institute to find out about their genome research that delivers insights into human, evolutionary and pathogen biology. They were also given an insight into different exciting careers. @engageWCS #Science

For #WorldNTDDay we spoke to Dr. Tess Attenborough about her work understanding the biology of #schistosomiasis, and the role of #genomics in the fight against Neglected Tropical Diseases.