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Group Leader Recruitment

Group Leader RecruitmentGroup Leader Recruitment

At CRG, Group leaders benefit from:

  • A nurturing, international and collaborative environment
  • An attractive starting package to set-up the lab, an initial team and lab expenses
  • Access to cutting edge core facilities
  • A broad network of international and interdisciplinary collaborations
  • Leadership training and mentorship
  • Tailored support in raising competitive funds

For any detailed information on currently open vacancies for the Group Leader positions please consult the Job Opportunities section.

A creative and collaborative environment to nurture excellence

The CRG is an international biomedical research institute of excellence, based in Barcelona, Spain. With over 400 scientists from 43 countries, the CRG’s excellence is based on an interdisciplinary, motivated and creative scientific team that is supported by high-end and innovative technologies and by a flexible and efficient administration.

The CRG hosts four research programmes: Genome Biology; Quantitative Cell Biology; Systems and Synthetic Biology; and Computational Biology and Health Genomics. Researchers have access to state-of-the-art core technologies, including: genomics and next generation sequencing, bioinformatics, proteomics, advanced light microscopy, flow cytometry, protein technologies, tissue engineering and a modern animal house.

In a relatively short period since its foundation in 2002, the CRG has generated important scientific insights in our understanding of the organization, deployment and evolution of genetic information, the internal workings of cells, their differentiation and reprogramming, their collective organization to form tissues and their alterations in disease, including cancer. Some landmark scientific publications are highlighted below (see Key highlights).

The CRG is housed in the Barcelona Biomedical Research Park (PRBB) that is located at the seafront of Barcelona and accommodates seven research institutes with 1,500 people from 50 different countries including a new site of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory starting in 2017. The institute hosts one of the two nodes of the European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA). The CRG is also affiliated to the Barcelona Institute of Science and Technology (BIST) to foster interdisciplinary research and training, and belongs to the European alliance EU-LIFE, including 13 research institutes in life sciences to support and strengthen European research excellence and be a voice in European science policy.

CRG policy of equal opportunities

The CRG is committed to a transparent, open and merit-based recruitment policy, aligned to the HR Excellence in Research award. The institute fosters a diverse, inclusive and equal-opportunity environment, and implements several policies to enable CRG staff to achieve an effective balance between work and life outside the workplace. The institute has a dedicated Gender Balance Committee and has a Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Plan to improve gender equality at the institute.

Selection process

Job opening

Once a need of hiring a Principal Investigator is identified, the job opening will be prepared between Hiring Manager(s)/Chair of the selection committee and, in collaboration with the Human Resources Department. In order to be compliant with openness and transparency, job openings will include the role of the position (showing the job purpose), requirements (education and training, experience, knowledge, skills…), responsibilities, dimension of the job, working conditions, career development opportunities, and a description of the selection procedure including the main steps of the application process and the eligibility criteria.

Selection Committee

When forming the Selection Committee, the diversity and gender perspectives should be considered in order to comply with equity in representation. The Chair of the panel, in charge of the nomination of Selection Committee members, will make sure to bring together diverse expertise and competences and an adequate gender balance aiming for at least one third of the panel members per gender and, where appropriate and feasible, include members from different disciplines, including from other countries and with relevant experience to assess the candidate.

Adversiting Campaign

The Group Leader position will be advertised on previously approved advertising campaign and advertisement channels for a period of time defined by the Hiring Manager(s)/Chair of the selection committee with the recommendation of the Head of Human Resources.

Proactive identification and invitation of competitive female applicants by faculty members is encouraged at the opening of every selection process. If the list of shortlisted candidates for interview does not include at least one third of competitive female candidates, the call will be necessarily reopened and further proactive actions will be implemented to identify and invite applications from competitive female candidates.

It is strongly recommended that at least one third of the shortlisted candidates are female.


  • First screening: Once the application period ends, the Selection Committee will screen applicants against the requirements of the job opening. The aim of this initial assessment is to identify those applicants who do not meet the requirements of the position and, therefore, are not eligible.
  • Second screening: Following a scoring system based on an open, transparent and merit-based recruitment, the Selection Committee will screen applications. The pre-selected candidates will be invited for an interview at the CRG.


The interview will include the following:

  • Open seminar about their past work and future research plan.
  • Chalk Talk including an in depth interview with the different members of the panel.
  • Interview with the Head of Human Resources.
  • Opportunity to visit the institute and meet with different CRG group leaders.

The panel will consist of the internal selection committee, members of the scientific advisory board and ad-hoc external experts. According to our Recruitment Policy, and our Declaration of Commitment to the Code of Conduct for the Recruitment of Researchers, the selection committees should bring together diverse expertise and competences and should have an adequate gender balance, aiming for at least one third of the panel members per gender.

Once the interview process is finished and the selection panel agrees on the selected candidate, an official offer letter will be issued in writing, given specific working details such as start date, vacations, and salary details, among others.

Submission of letters of recommendation

The pre-selected candidate will be informed in writing, and letters of recommendations will be requested.

The referees will receive an e-mail with the request to submit their letter of recommendation to the candidate’s application. This step maybe either via email or through the applicant tracking system (ATS)

Please be advised that it is the responsibility of the candidate to make sure that the referees will submit the reference letters before the agreed deadline.

Employment conditions

Successful applicants of the Junior Group Leader positions will be offered a 5-year contract renewable for a total of 9 years depending on external peer-review by the CRG Scientific Advisory Board.

This includes salaries and consumables for up to three people depending on their qualifications.

Successful applicants of the Senior Group Leader positions will be offered an open-ended contract renewable depending on periodic external peer-review.  This includes salaries and consumables for up to four people.

For both positions, we offer a competitive salary and the compensation package offers support for relocation, a personalized flexible remuneration system, and a portfolio of social benefits that includes personal and family assistance.

Internal resources

CRG group leaders benefit from a highly collaborative, collegial, and international English-speaking environment. They have multiple opportunities to discuss their research questions and results with their peers, at faculty lunches, retreats, data clubs, seminars and more informal gatherings.

We provide fully equipped laboratory space for up to 7-9 people for our junior group leaders and space for 12-15 people for senior group leaders including lab expenses.

Importantly, CRG researchers have access to cutting-edge core facilities and scientific services. These include the following:

  • Advanced microscopy
  • Proteomics
  • Genomics
  • FACS
  • Biomolecular screening and protein technologies
  • Tissue engineering
  • Bioinformatics
  • Data storage and computing
  • Histology

Group leaders also have access to the PRBB animal facility, an area of over 4,500m2 with capacity for 70,000 mice as well as 50,000 zebrafishes.

The CRG international PhD and postdoctoral programmes attract bright and talented junior researchers to CRG groups from all over the world.  

Junior group leaders benefit from leadership courses and different mentoring schemes, through the internal training programme as well as the Intervals initiative at the PRBB.

Competitive funding

Group leaders receive tailored support in grant scouting and comprehensive support in proposal preparation. In particular, we offer a Coaching Programme for ERC proposals (especially Starting Grants), including support in internal peer-review/mentoring by ERC awardees and senior scientists, non-scientific review and guidance in all administrative aspects by the Grants Office and mock interview for candidates pre-selected for interview.  

The CRG has an outstanding track record in obtaining funds from National, European and international public and private funding agencies, featuring regularly in the Spanish rankings as one of the top Spanish Organizations with more EU funding per employee (please refer to the most recent statistics from the European Commission with the top 10 Spanish institutions[1]). In the last few years, the grants obtained from the European Commission reached, on average, 50% of the total external funding brought in, reaching 70% in 2015. The successful performance is mainly due to key awards, including 20 active European Research Council (ERC) projects and several collaborative projects coordinated by CRG group leaders.


Junior Group Leaders who left the institute in the last 4 years have all found senior positions at top European institutes.

Examples include Salvador Aznar-Benitah (IRB; Barcelona), Hernán López-Schier (Helmholz Zentrum, Munich), Mark Isalan (Imperial College, London), Pedro Carvalho (Chair at Oxford University), and Bill Keyes (IGBMC, Strasbourg), Fyodor Kondrashov (Institute of Science and Technology (IST Austria), Klosterneuburg, Austria), Manuel Mendoza (IGBMC, Strasbourg)

The CRG runs an Alumni engagement programme to foster long-lasting connection with previous employers.


For further information, please check out CRG Recruitment Policy


Key highlights

Highlights of the scientific achievements by CRG scientists in the last few years include:

1) Genome architecture and regulation

1.1. Genome and transcriptome sequencing projects

  • Participation in genome sequencing projects (turbot, bean, olive, crocodile, myriapods, melon, lynx, etc.), including leadership in some (Gabaldon’s, Guigo’s, Kondrashov’s and Notredame’s groups, PNAS 2012, Nature 2013, Nature 2014, Nature 2014, Genome Biology 2015, Genome Biology 2016, PNAS 2016).
  • Characterization of patterns of gene expression across tissues, individuals and species (Guigo, Estivill and Notredame’s groups, Genome Research 2012, Genome Research 2014, Nature 2014, Nature 2014, Nature Communications 2015, Science 2015, PNAS 2015, Genome Biology 2016).

1.2. Genomic analysis methods

  • Methods for sequencing alignment and benchmarking (Notredame’s group, Bioinformatics 2013, Molecular Biology and Evolution 2014, NAR 2015, NAR 2016).
  • Methods for predicting protein aggregation, lncRNA-protein interactions, lncRNA mapping, splicing variants and experimental methods for functional screenings (BiG Program groups, Nature Methods 2012, Nature Communications 2014, NAR 2014, BMC Genomics 2014, Bioinformatics 2014, Bioinformatics 2015, BMC Genomics 2015, NAR 2013, 2016, RNA 2013, Bioinformatics 2016).

1.3. Chromatin organization and dynamics

  • Evidence of heterogeneous distribution of nucleosomes in chromatin fibers using STORM super-resolution imaging (Cosma’s group, Cell, 2015).
  • Chromatin topological domains as units of hormone-induced gene regulation (collaboration between the groups of Beato, Martí-Renom and Filion, Genes & Dev, 2014).
  • Role of PARP-1 and ADP-ribose as a source of nuclear ATP required for chromatin remodeling (Beato’s group, Genes & Dev, 2012 and Science 2016).
  • Function of Dyrk1A as a gene-specific CTD kinase (de la Luna’s group, Mol Cell, 2015).

1.4. RNA biology

  • Structure-function analysis of a key RNA-protein complex for X chromosome dosage compensation in Drosophila (Gebauer’s group, Nature, 2014, Nature Comm, 2014).
  • Function of the RNA binding protein UNR/CSDE1 in metastasis (Gebauer’s group, Cancer Cell, in press).
  • Contribution to the understanding of the layer of epigenetic regulation in RNA production and processing (Guigo’s group, Genome Research 2012, Genome Biology 2015, Nature Genetics 2015)
  • Bacterial antisense RNAs are mainly the product of transcriptional noise (Serrano group, Science Adv. 2: e1501363; 2016).
  • Discovery of the existence of a universe of small ORFs (<100 aa) with similar essentiality as classical genes (Serrano group, Molecular Systems Biology 2015).

1.5. Signaling

  • We revealed the importance of protein competition in signal transduction output and the concept of energedgetics (Serrano group, Science Signalling, 2013, Molecular Systems Biology 2014).

1.6. Phenotypic variation, epistasis and evolution

  • Discovery that induced stress responses underlie inter-individual variation in isogenic animals and promiscuously reduce the effects of inherited detrimental mutations (Lehner group, Science 2012).
  • Discovery of the evolutionary mechanisms by means of which epistatic interactions constrain the rate and direction of evolution of biological sequences (Kondrashov's and Notredame’s groups, Nature 2012, Nature 2016).
  • Contribution to the understanding of how the evolution of gene families relates to functional divergence, including the fate of duplicated genes, horizontal transfer and interspecies hybridization, as well as the characterization of the ancestral patterns of evolution among archosaurs, and the discovery of the late acquisition of mitochondria in eukaryotes (Gabaldón's group, Science 2014, PLoS Biology 2015, PLoS Genetics 2015, Nature 2016).

2) Cell identity and organogenesis

2.1. Cellular senescence

  • Evidence of a physiological function of cellular senescence during early development and of age-related inflammation in stem cell function (Keyes’s group in collaboration with James Sharpe’s group, Cell, 2013; Genes & Dev, 2012).

2.2. Stem cell biology

  • Uncovering key roles of Polycomb complex components in embryonic stem cell differentiation and in mesoderm cell specification (Di Croce’s group in collaboration with Aznar-Benitah’s, Cell Stem Cell, 2012; NSMB, 2012; Genes & Dev, 2014; Cell Stem Cell, 2016).

2.3. Cell reprogramming

  • Efficient B cell reprogramming into iPS cells and transdifferentiation by C/EBPa (Graf’s group in collaboration with Beato’s, Nature, 2014; Mol Cell, 2012; Stem Cell Reports, 2015; Nature Cell Biol 2016; Cell Stem Cell, 2016).
  • Role of Wnt/beta-catenin pathway in neuron reprogramming and retina regeneration (Cosma’s group, Cell Reports, 2013, 2014; Stem Cell Reports, 2014).

2.4. Cell division

  • Identification of proteins that bind and control microtubule nucleation and dynamics during mitosis (Vernos group, Current Biology 2012, 2013, Nature Comm 2014, 2015, Current Biology 2015, J Cell Sci 2016, Mol Biol Cell 2016).
  • Identification of novel cell cycle check points (Mendoza group, Nature Cell Biology 2016).

2.5. Intracellular trafficking and homeostasis

  • Identification of proteins that regulate cellular homeostasis of lipids and proteins (Carvalho group, Science 2014, J Cell Biol 2015, EMBO J 2016).
  • Identification of receptors for collagen and chylomicron export (Malhotra group, eLife 2015, eLife 2016, J Cell Biol 2016).

2.6. Tissue patterning and organization

  • Identification of the mechanism by which tissues organize and function during early development (Solon group, Developmental Cell 2015, Curr Biol 2016, eLife 2016).
  • Discovery of the phenomenon of development systems drift in the evolution of Drosophila embryonic patterning (Jaeger group, eLife 2015, PLoS Genet 2015, Dev Biol 2016)
  • The first molecular demonstration that embryonic patterning of mammalian fingers is driven by a Turing reaction-diffusion system, and that the relevant circuits are functionally conserved from fish to tetrapods. (Sharpe group, Science 2012, Science 2014, eLife 2015, Nature Communications 2016).
  • The first reverse-engineering of a gene circuit in a model of dynamically growing tissue (Sharpe group, Molecular Systems Biology 2015).

2.7. Sensory organ function

  • A detailed interdisciplinary study of how neurons in the Drosophila larva extract information about external odor gradients to guide chemotaxis (Louis group, Current Biol 2015, Elife 2015, eLife 2016).

3) Molecular and cellular mechanisms of disease

3.1. Genome, transcriptome and proteome alterations in cancer

  • Discovery of substantial regional variation in somatic mutation rates along the human genome in cancer caused by variable DNA repair (Lehner group, Nature 2013, Nature 2015).
  • Discovery of synonymous cancer driver mutations in human tumours associated with changes in the splicing of oncogenes (Lehner group, Cell 2014).
  • Revealing functional networks of alternative splicing regulation in cancer (Valcárcel’s group, Mol Cell 2013; Mol Cell 2015a: Mol Cell 2015b).
  • Genomic and gene regulation determinants of leukemia progression (Estivill group, Nature 2015, Leukemia, 2013; Di Croce group, MCB 2014, EMBOJ 2013).
  • Key role of protein dynamics in predicting the effect of cancer driver mutations (Serrano group, eLife 2016, Mol Syst Biol 2014).

3.2. Genomic determinants of genetic disease

  • Identification of genetic determinants of diseases using NGS and GWAS approaches, including phenylketonuria, cystic fibrosis, polycystic kidney, Sezary Syndrome, nephrotic syndrome, essential tremor, anorexia, arthritis, psoriasis, childhood obsesity and reproductive disorders (Estivill and Ossowsky’s groups, J Invest Derm 2016, Human Molecular Genetics 2015, PNAS, 2015, Eur J Hum Genet 2015, 2014, Clin Genet 2014, Hum Genet 2014, Mol Psychiatry 2014, J Med genet 2013, Nature Genetics 2013, 2012).

3.3. Neurological disease

  • RNA-determinants of disease progression in Parkinson and Huntington's disease (Estivill group, PLOS Genet 2012, RNA Biol 2013).
  • Evidence that the drug epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), when used in combination with environmental enrichment, can reduce symptoms in young adult humans with Down syndrome (Dierssen’s group, Lancet Neurology 2016).