Bioinformatician/Computational Biologist

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About Willow Biosciences 

Headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Willow Biosciences is a biotechnology company focused on revolutionizing the industrial manufacturing of active pharmaceutical ingredients and other high-value products traditionally derived from plants. Willow Biosciences has an established integration of cutting-edge basic research and state-of-the-art applied technology development, linking genomics-based plant gene discovery to synthetic biology-enabled microbial strain engineering. Proven success in the development of yeast strains producing pharmaceutical opiates is now being leveraged to establish industry-leading yeast strains engineered to make cannabinoids. Fermentation-based biosynthesis in microbes yields the highest-grade product for industrial and pharmaceutical applications, and provides a distinct value proposition to pharmaceutical partners. It also has the potential for higher product yields at a lower cost compared with extraction and purification from cultivated plants.

Job Listing: Computational Biologist/Bioinformatician

We are seeking an experienced Bioinformatician/Computational Biologist to design and implement bioinformatics analysis pipelines for Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS), genomics, proteomics, and transcriptomics data in addition to proactively contributing to the computational strategy of the company. The successful candidate will collaborate with a team of plant metabolic biochemists to develop yeast strains capable of producing commercially viable levels of valuable plant metabolites.       

Education: A PhD in Bioinformatics, Computer Science or equivalent.  

Experience: 2+ years demonstrated experience in bioinformatics in biotechnology applications, in an industrial research setting (Biotechnology, Pharmaceutical, or Life Sciences Industries). Expertise in computer programming and extensive experience in gene expression analysis, structure-function relationships and working in a high-throughput environment strongly preferred.

Position: This position is for a highly motivated and experienced individual with a strong desire to work in a fast-paced, collaborative startup environment. The ideal candidate should excel in statistics, data processing, and experimental design. Responsibilities will include: hands on involvement in the identification and optimization of gene targets; data mining/analysis of large complex data for sequence-activity relationship modelling; recommendation of improved variants for subsequent rounds of evolution; participation in rapid Design/Build/Test/Learn cycle with other lab scientists to meet company goals/milestones.

Job Description: 

  • Drive the design and development of cutting-edge bioinformatics pipelines to translate data into scientific leads and support the company’s research projects;
  • Utilize available transcriptomic, metabolomic, proteomic and genomic sequence databases for computationally predicting and characterizing eukaryotic gene regulatory pathways (yeast);
  • Design high throughput (HTP) experiments with lab scientists for optimal data analysis and continue to monitor and implement improvements to HTP screening processes; develop standard analysis, reporting of processes and any deviations from standard operating procedures or variance;
  • Track (meta) data collection and monitor data storage in database;
  • Develop framework for analysis of HTP data with Spotfire/PyMOL/ I-TASSER and Python (data normalization, identification of hits, linear regression-based gene effect analysis, and visualization tools);
  • Effectively communicate/present complex data and analysis to audiences with diverse technical backgrounds;
  • Offer strategic recommendations based on interpretation of data for subsequent rounds of evolution;
  • Provide written documentation and specifications for workflows;
  • Establish and maintain the company’s Laboratory Information Management System (LIMS);
  • Provide computational and bioinformatics support to a team of researchers; 
  • Work in partnership with lab scientists (strain engineers, assay development and fermentation scientists) to identify, develop, and apply new synthetic biology & genome engineering tools to meet company goals/milestones.

Required Skills:

  • Experience in assembling, analyzing, and interpreting scientific data with an emphasis on NGS sequence data, proteomics, transcriptomics, metabolomics, and mass spectrometry data; 
  • Highly skilled in statistics (R, JMP) and biological interpretation of data required – knowledge of statistical methods; conditional probability, regression modeling, goodness-of-fit tests, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian models;
  • A strong background in programing including at least one of the following: C, C++, Java, PYTHON, and Shell in a Linux environment and/or other related data analysis languages, with at least five years of coding experience; 
  • Proficient in the use of bioinformatics software and packages (e.g., GATK, BCFtools, BLAST, etc.), and publicly available genetics databases (e.g., ExAC, ESP, ClinVar, GenBank, Ensemble, etc.);
  • Familiarity with HTP screening workflows and genetics, NGS software workflows and analysis of sequencing data from Illumina HiSeq/MiSeq sequencers;
  • A diverse computer science and bioinformatics skillset coupled with a proactive attitude in order to meet the diverse computational needs of the company;
  • Outstanding team player with strong interpersonal and communication skills (written and verbal) with great attention to detail and maintenance of a high degree of accuracy;
  • Capable of high performance in independent work as well as in team setting;
  • A strong desire to grow as a scientific researcher, learn new techniques and adopt new technologies for process improvements.

Physical Demands

  • Remain in a seated or standing position for extended periods of time;   
  • Performing repetitive tasks with hands, fingers, and wrists. 

Position Type: 

  • Full-time position.

Travel: 

  • No. 

Work Authorization: 

  • Authorized to work in Canada.

Benefits:

  • Healthcare Benefits – medical, vision, dental;
  • Vacation + Paid Holidays;
  • Life / AD&D, Short-term and Long-term Disability Insurance.

Equal Opportunity Employment:

  • Willow Biosciences is an equal opportunity employer. We are committed to creating an inclusive environment for all employees.  We do not discriminate based upon race, religion, colour, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity, age, status as a protected veteran, status as an individual with a disability, or any other applicable legally protected characteristics.  All employment is decided on the basis of qualifications, merit and business need.
Location: Calgary, AB Canada
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