Job Title: Epidemiologist / Health Data Scientist for OpenSAFELY in the DataLab.
Salary Range: £41,526 - £49,553, with discretionary range to £54,131.
Contract: fixed-term for 18months in the first instance.
Hours: Up to full-time, flexible and part-time working acceptable.
Closing Date: Friday 8th January 2021.
Interview Date: 21 January 2021.
Vacancy ID: 148953
To apply: > search all jobs > search by "DataLab" or vacancy ID

We are recruiting a new epidemiologist, statistician or health data scientist to work in our OpenSAFELY platform, currently running across the full electronic health records of 55 million patients.

You will initially conduct research evaluating the impact of COVID-19 on recovering patients and the health service. You will also be helping to lead a new way of delivering health data science. OpenSAFELY is a highly secure, modular, open source data analysis platform, combining best practice from both academia and the open source software community.

The DataLab is a mixed team of clinicians, software developers, policy experts, and traditional academic researchers, all pooling skills and knowledge. We have a strong track record of delivering high impact research in Nature, Lancet and BMJ; real-world impact on policy and clinical practice; and high impact services such as OpenSAFELY, OpenPrescribing and TrialsTracker.

Our mission is to create a modern, open, collaborative ecosystem for health research. We do this by shipping code, delivering papers, building capacity, and advocating for new ways of working. We aim to lead by example: recurring tasks are turned into packages and libraries; all code is shared openly for review and re-use; analyses are delivered in Jupyter notebooks for others to read, evaluate, re-purpose, and learn with.

We want to meet outstanding researchers who share this vision and have, or can rapidly develop, the skills needed to deliver it with us. We are particularly interested in researchers who will contribute to our open science community-building work, our codebase, our open teaching resources, or our policy work.

You will report to Dr Alex Walker, and/or to Dr Ben Goldacre, the PI. You can read more at and

We may also appoint at Grade 7 (£32817 to £40,322, with discretionary range up to £44,045) with appropriate adjustments in duties or at a clinical grade if appropriate.

The team is based in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences, Radcliffe Primary Care Building, Woodstock Road, Oxford, OX2 6GG, although currently working mostly remotely. Post-pandemic, the role can continue to be remote, though you should expect to travel to Oxford from time to time, and as such we are looking for UK-based candidates. We can offer flexible working hours, and the role can be part time (at least 3 days a week) or full time.

We encourage applications from groups that are under-represented in software engineering to apply, and we welcome applications from those who don’t have a traditional tech/academic background.

The package includes generous holiday, pension and associated benefits. We encourage experienced candidates who can earn more than this in other sectors to apply, so we can sell you the benefits of working in such a productive team on such interesting and important work.


  • Develop research questions within a specific context, conduct individual research, analysing detailed and complex qualitative and/or quantitative data from a variety of sources, and generate original ideas by building on existing concepts.

  • Develop and implement new research methodologies and materials.

  • Regularly write research articles at a national level for peer-reviewed journals, book chapters, and reviews. Present papers at national conferences, and lead seminars to disseminate research findings.

  • Agree clear task objectives, organise, and delegate work to other members of the team and coach other members of the group on specialist methodologies or procedures.

  • Raise research funds through grant applications and manage own area of a larger research budget.

  • Share responsibility for shaping the research group’s plans and the writing of group-funding applications for new research projects.

  • Represent the research group at external meetings/seminars, either with other members of the group or alone.

  • Carry out collaborative projects with colleagues in partner institutions, and research groups.

  • Develop and deliver research papers evaluating the impact of COVID-19 on recovering patients and the health service. Work with the team to develop and deliver research outputs on other important clinical questions.

  • Work with the team to creatively identify opportunities for new analytic approaches, or new tools and services that will meet the needs of clinicians, patients, policymakers and researchers; then work with us to implement them in code and deliver them to the community. Work closely with our developers and developer-researchers to contribute to the OpenSAFELY platform itself, for example by helping to develop the methods used in single papers into new features and code libraries for the platform, contributing to documentation for features that you and others have developed, and providing detailed user feedback on new features developed by the team.

  • Work collaboratively with the growing community of OpenSAFELY users inside and outside of the DataLab to help build an ecosystem of users delivering both individual research outputs and widely-used interoperable open tools. Contribute to capacity building and advocacy for modern, open, collaborative computational data science techniques by blogging, producing online content, giving talks and running workshops (as can be seen at and elsewhere).

  • Work with clinicians and software engineers to identify, ingest, manage, evaluate and analyse new datasets; deliver and share Jupyter notebooks and other open resources that describe, document, and curate the underlying electronic health records and research datasets made available through OpenSAFELY.

  • Contribute to creative problem-solving around barriers to developing live interactive tools from health data; document these barriers and solutions constructively for others.

  • Act as a source of information and advice to other members of the group on methods or procedures in which you have expertise.

Essential selection criteria

  • Outstanding skills in one or more of: epidemiology, data science, statistics, clinical informatics.

  • Ability to write analytic code in at least one commonly used language (ideally Python/Pandas/SQL but also R/Stata or other), or very strong evidence that this can be rapidly developed.

  • Strong existing knowledge of routinely collected NHS patient data, or clinical informatics.

  • Strong commitment to our vision of delivering research by delivering modern, open, collaborative computational data science tools for the whole community to use and re-use.

  • Strong commitment to open science and contemporary working methods, ideally demonstrated by provision of an existing GitHub repository for review (however sparse).

  • Ability to communicate complex technical problems efficiently to other members of a busy team; and iteratively generate creative solutions to barriers.

  • Ability to work collaboratively within a team using shared workspaces and tools.

  • Ability to engage proactively with external partners on complex technical issues.

  • Ability to communicate rapidly and effectively within a mixed team.

  • Proven track record of delivering data science tools within a mixed team, or the ability to develop these skills rapidly.

  • Proven excellent communication skills, including the ability to write for publication, present information clearly, and represent the research group at meetings.

  • Relevant experience and degree.

  • Previous experience of contributing to publications/presentations.

Desirable selection criteria

  • A proven track record of commitment to open ways of working, sharing code, contributing to open source tools, as evidenced by contribution to existing code through GitHub.

  • A strong appreciation of the wider policy context around better use of health data.

  • Strong knowledge, interest, or existing skills around software development.

  • Previous experience of git/github for version control and collaborative working.

  • Outstanding skills in SQL, Python/Pandas and/or Stata/R.

  • Previous experience analysing routinely-collected patient-level electronic health records data.

  • Previous experience using and writing clinical codelists.

  • Good domain knowledge on prescribing, pathology testing, clinical practice, and how healthcare services are organised and monitored in the UK.

  • Experience of independently managing a discrete area of a research project.