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    Opportunity: Scientist, COMPUTATIONAL BIOLOGY & BIOINFORMATICS @ Public Health Ontario -- Toronto, ON, Canada
    Submitted by Human Resources; posted on Friday, March 22, 2013


    Program: Public Health Ontario - Toronto Public Health Laboratory

    Organizational Overview:
    Public Health Ontario ("PHO") is a Crown corporation dedicated to protecting and promoting the health of all Ontarians and reducing inequities in health. As a hub organization, PHO links public health practitioners, front-line health workers and researchers to the best scientific intelligence and knowledge from around the world. PHO provides expert scientific and technical support relating to infection prevention and control; surveillance and epidemiology; health promotion, chronic disease and injury prevention; environmental and occupational health; health emergency preparedness; and public health laboratory services to support health providers, the public health system and partner ministries in making informed decisions and taking informed action to improve the health and security of Ontarians. For more information about PHO, visit

    Position Details:
    To provide scientific expertise and direction to the Laboratory's computational biology / bioinformatics services, systems and resources to support operations and researchers on current and new public health laboratory research and clinical activities. To be an integral member of the PHO research community and develop a robust research program, engage in academic activities at a recognized Ontario university, and provide mentorship to undergraduate, graduate and post-doctoral students.

    The Scientist - Computational Biology and Bioinformatics supports the Computational Biology/Bioinformatics section and PHOL research and clinical operations, and liaises with Public Health Ontario in key areas:
    1. Through application and consultation on advanced computational biology methods and construction of tools and models that support PHO's role in research, bioinformatics and computational biology.
    2. By guiding and facilitating relevant analysis of laboratory data and providing guidance and advice to laboratory researchers and for laboratory bioinformatics activities.
    3. By facilitating/promoting collaborations between PHO colleagues in laboratories, PHO program areas and with academia.
    4. Through development of novel computational biology and bioinformatics methods and applying them in the clinical and research operations areas. A significant facet of the role will involve working with the PHOL Director of Research and Research Operations management on approved PHO research projects, in addition to developing independent research projects with peer reviewed funding.

    A significant facet of the role will involve working with the PHOL Director of Research and Research Operations management on approved PHO research projects, in addition to developing independent research projects with peer reviewed funding.


    Provides assistance and scientific advice to the Medical Director, CLOO, PHOL Research Director, the PHOL Director Research Operations and PHOL Director IT Operations in support of the computational biology /bioinformatics service:
    • Ensures rigorous scientific methodology guides all decision making as it relates to the development and implementation of new procedures and research activities.
    • Works closely with PHOL management to provide scientific oversight and direction of the Laboratory's computational biology/bioinformatics services, systems and resources including developing computational biological protocols, tools and procedures.
    • Works closely with PHOL Research Director and the Director(s) Operations to determine program needs and implementation strategies to meet those needs.
    • Acts as the primary scientific contact and conduit in collaborating with researchers and senior laboratory management to define ongoing bioinformatics needs, resolve issues and to develop and implement bioinformatics strategies to support major research projects.
    • Facilitates and collaborates on research projects with PHO, provincial, national and international researchers, organizations, universities and other academic organizations.
    • Develops and implements protocols and procedures with quality assurance best practice/standards to ensure that data collection is efficiently collected, stored, accurate and valid.
    • Demonstrates core values of PHO thereby ensuring that goals, objectives and strategic priorities of PHO are met.
    • As PHOL's computational biology and bioinformatics scientific expert, provides technical expertise, services and support to management, colleagues and clients on research projects and during outbreak investigations and other emergent events.
    • Works closely with the Manager Laboratory Surveillance and Data Management, pilots the development and application of bioinformatics approaches relating to the analysis, manipulation, dissemination and storage of biological data.
    • Determines needs and recommends purchases of equipment including upgrades of systems and software (working closely with PHO Lab IT and PHO corporate IT) for consideration by the Chief Laboratory Operations Officer.
    • Develops monitoring strategies to evaluate vendor and program services to ensure that objectives are being met.
    • Provides scientific oversight, project planning and evaluation of students and other trainees on project teams.
    • Provides DNA sequencing analysis for the lab's larger and more complex projects including DNA chromatogram interpretation, genome sequence assembly, nucleotide polymorphism analysis, and construction of phylogenetic trees.
    • Provides detailed and authoritative genome annotation analysis using public databases.
    • Works with the laboratory operations team in planning and implementing strategies to respond to urgent requests for the analysis of outbreak data – often responding to urgent requests from the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care and other business partners.
    • Determines optimum methods to improve scientific databases to meet the business needs of laboratory staff and external stakeholders.
    • Writes reports, letters and other documentation to transfer knowledge concerning the technical and operational aspects of services being provided. Writes and updates SOPs (standard operating procedures) pertinent to the Laboratory computational biology/bioinformatics service.
    • Initiates, develops and manages partnerships and networks with counterparts in microbiology labs and research centres across Canada to represent the PHO on bioinformatics, share best practices, research trends and common issues.
    • Teaches, oversees and mentors students and post-doctoral fellows.


    Knowledge and Skills:
    • Specialized training in molecular biology, genetics, and/or microbiology and knowledge of biological disciplines including epidemiology, statistics to provide expertise and scientific oversight of the computational biology/bioinformatics service.
    • Knowledge of and experience with algorithms and programs for DNA sequence analysis.
    • Knowledge of important biological sequence databases and database formats, and how to retrieve information from these databases.
    • Some experience, proficiency and knowledge of network administration; Unix/Linux operating system environments; programming/scripting in bioinformatics applications in Perl, Java, C/C++, Python and SQL; and the use and implementation of relational databases.
    • Excellent oral and written communication skills and strong analytical and/or methodological skills related to computational biology and informatics.
    • Project management expertise and technical leadership skills in planning, leading and coordinating multiple specialized projects and to work in multi-disciplinary teams.
    • Knowledge and experience in ethics pertaining to the conduct of public health research.
    • Knowledge of Laboratory Information Systems, their use and capabilities in support of bioinformatics work.
    • Strategic capacity to think and work across a system and thrive in a dynamic changing environment.
    Education and Experience:
    • A doctoral degree from an accredited educational institution, and post-doctoral training in molecular biology, microbiology, genetics, biochemistry or equivalent health sciences discipline.
    • Eligible for (or currently holding) an academic appointment (assistant professor status or higher) at an Ontario University within a relevant academic discipline and capable of the clinical and academic supervision of graduate and other students.
    • Two to three years of experience in conducting research studies and eligible to hold a Tri-Council Research Grant.
    • Three to five years of experience in bioinformatics from an accredited university.
    • Experience in providing scientific feedback and mentoring of professional staff and students.
    • Experience and proficiency in design, implementation and maintenance of high performance life sciences computing environment and associated network topology including Unix based parallel computing clusters, large memory multiprocessor symmetric multiprocessing data processing servers.


    If you are interested in applying for this position, please visit and click on the job title.

    Your cover letter and resume must clearly indicate how you meet the qualifications/competencies.

    Thank you for your interest in this position, however, only qualified candidates will be contacted for an interview.


    April 2, 2013

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