Research Scientist (Food and Nutrition Data Scientist)

Applications Close: 14 January 2020

Salary: £31,625 - £38,575 depending on qualifications and experience

Contract Length: 27 months

We are looking for a highly motivated individual to drive food data analytics within the Food Databanks National Capability at the Quadram Institute (QI), with an interest in embracing cutting edge computational tools in the study of food composition, food intake and wider nutritional research.

About Food Databanks National Capability

Food Databanks National Capability (FDNC) compiles and publishes data on the composition of foods eaten in the UK, which is utilised by a wide range of stakeholders from a variety of disciplines, and underpins research in food, nutrition and health. This includes the government’s National Diet and Nutrition Survey, which is used to inform public health policy. We are additionally responsible for developing and maintaining eBASIS, a database of non-nutrient plant-derived bioactive compounds with putative health benefits in foods. eBASIS provides information from published literature about bioactives with putative health benefits, or detrimental effects in humans, supported by peer-reviewed evidence.

The FDNC team is active in participating and leading a succession of UK- and EU-funded projects and consortia around diet and health. We are currently leading an EIT Food activity around personalised nutrition services and are one of the lead partners in a consortium to develop an EU-wide Food, Nutrition Security (FNS) Data Cloud (FNS-Cloud, 2019-2023) to connect various types of data relevant for the food and health research community. We also work closely with QI research groups and our Norwich Research Park partners – the University of East Anglia and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital – that share an active interest in nutrition, and are involved in human studies to understand the interplay between the gut microbiome and nutrition.

The role

This exciting role will involve two main activities:

  1. Establishing predictive analytics through machine learning and deep learning, using existing and novel data (including food composition and intake data, food imagery, consumer behaviour and lifestyle, biological measurements from blood and wearables, and gut microbiome) that are being generated from the FDNC team and our collaborators. This work will underpin our activities as a lead partner in the EU-wide Food, Nutrition Security (FNS) data cloud to connect various types of data relevant for the food and health research community, and importantly will provide opportunities for the post-holder to work closely with our data science partners across Europe around food and health data.
  2. Managing and upgrading our bioactives database (eBASIS) to improve functionality and accessibility, and will explore opportunities to automate the process of data entry (e.g. text mining).

Central to this role will be the ability to interact with the food and nutrition research communities by maintaining good working relations with our existing network, developing new collaborations, share best practice, adopt cutting edge food and nutrition-related data tools, and be a champion of our activities.

The ideal candidate

This post will be well-suited to a graduate in Data Science/Computational Science with a strong interest in nutrition, or a Food Science/Biological Science graduate with a strong interest and experience in computational biology. You will have a BSc in a relevant area, and a PhD or MSc with equivalent relevant experience.

You will have strong communication skils to engage in collaborative activities in the food and health research area and interact with the nutrition research communities we are involved in. Having experience in working independently is also an advantage.

You will have prior experience preferably in Python/C++ programming and excellent knowledge of a variety of machine learning techniques (e.g. clustering, decision tree learning, neural networks, deep learning).

Strong skills in advanced statistics are essential, as are demonstrable examples of applying machine learning algorithms for data analysis, preferably but not exclusively in areas related to food and nutrition.

Additional information

Salary on appointment will be within the range £31,625 to £38,575 per annum depending on qualifications and experience.  This is a fulltime contract for a period of 27 months with a potential to extend, depending on future funding.

Further information and details of how to apply can be found here, or contact the Human Resources team on 01603 450462 or  quoting reference 1003758. Informal enquiries can be made to

We are committed to equal opportunities and welcome applications from all sectors of society.  The Institute supports equality of opportunity within the workplace and expects all employees to share and display these values.  To support our commitment, we have a range of family, faith and diversity friendly working arrangements to help all staff achieve excellence in their area of work.

As a Disability Confident employer, we guarantee to offer an interview to all disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for this vacancy.

About the Quadram Institute

The Quadram Institute is a new interdisciplinary research institute at the forefront of a new era in food and health research. Its mission is to understand how food and the gut microbiota are linked to the promotion of health and the prevention of disease. A partnership between Quadram Institute Bioscience, the University of East Anglia, the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and BBSRC, it brings together scientists and clinicians in a new state-of-the-art building. The Quadram Institute is based on the Norwich Research Park, one of Europe’s largest centres of life sciences and home of the John Innes Centre and The Earlham Institute.