Simons-NCBS / iTHEMS-RIKEN International Postdoctoral Fellowships in Theoretical Biology

The Interdisciplinary Theoretical and Mathematical Sciences Program at RIKEN and the Simons Centre for study of Living Machines at NCBS are premier centres for research in interdisciplinary life sciences. The two centres jointly host this prestigious international postdoctoral fellowship program in theoretical biology.

We are targeting creative, adventurous and independent post-doctoral researchers who wish to participate in a unique international collaboration. They should have primary training in mathematics, physics or computer science, and a desire to tackle deep problems in biology, but no prior training in biology is assumed. Successful candidates will be given great independence to formulate and drive the project, within the broad scope of the themes mentioned below. The projects will involve a combination of mathematical modelling, numerical simulations, and statistical analysis of experimental data.

Applicants should submit their latest CV, PDF versions of 1-3 first-author publications, and at least 2 letters of references. They should also submit a 1-page personal statement in which they outline their research background and interests, and indicate which of the two themes below they wish to apply under. More details can be found on the program website.

Each Simons-NCBS iTHEMS-RIKEN Fellow will be expected to spend equal amounts of time between the two host institutions (NCBS Campus Bangalore and RIKEN, Wako Campus, Tokyo) with specific timelines decided in consultation with the host groups and based on the requirements of the project. Simons-NCBS PIs: Prof. Shachi Gosavi, Prof. Sandeep Krishna, Prof. Madan Rao, Prof. Mukund Thattai, Prof. Shashi Thutupalli. iTHEMS-RIKEN PIs: Dr. Atsushi Mochizuki, Dr. Masashi Tachikawa, Dr. Tetsuo Hatsuda, Dr. Takashi Tsuboi, Dr. Shigehiro Nagataki.

Research themes:

1. Organelle remodelling and positioning within the cell

Coordinating PIs: Prof. Madan Rao (Simons-NCBS), Prof. Masashi Tachikawa (iTHEMS-RIKEN)

Eukaryotic cells are defined by a complex and highly dynamic intracellular structure. Internal membrane-bound organelles of the cell are subject to stresses arising from both active remodeling via fission-fusion processes and motor-cytoskeleton activity in the cytoplasm. These active processes affect the dynamics of morphology changes and the spatial positioning of organelles within a cell. We are interested in the underlying physico-chemical principles that govern these fundamental cell biology issues of growth, form and position. The PIs have a strong background in the use of modern analytical and computational methods of active soft matter physics and nonequilibrium statistical physics to address biological questions. A distinctive feature of this project will be close interactions with biologists at NCBS – the groups of Satyajit Mayor and Akash Gulyani. These groups bring experimental expertise in the context of the endosomal and mitochondrial systems of organelles. We encourage candidates with a strong background in theoretical soft/biological matter or non-equilibrium statistical physics and a sense of adventure to apply.

2. Studying the influence of network topology on the dynamical behaviour of many classes of biological networks

Coordinating PIs: Prof. Mukund Thattai (Simons-NCBS) and Prof. Atsushi Mochizuki (iTHEMS-RIKEN)

Network approaches have been very effective at describing the structure and dynamics of many types of distributed cellular systems. A central challenge in network biology is to understand aspects of network dynamics in the absence of detailed underlying parameters. In his project we will apply rigorous topological methods (linkage logic, structural sensitivity analysis, graph connectivity) to define constraints on the dynamical behaviour of biological networks. Examples of networks of interest include, but are not limited to, metabolic networks, molecular assembly systems, and intracellular traffic networks. Where possible, these questions will be studied in close collaboration with experimental cell biologists and biophysicists at NCBS.

Candidates with backgrounds in mathematics, physics, or computer science, with a strong foundation in dynamical systems, network approaches, or graph theory, are encouraged to apply. They will be expected to independently define a research problem, and develop their own approaches to study these, in collaboration with the host groups.