Postdoctoral Research Associate in Design and Realisation of Dynamic, Multicomponent DNA Nanostructures with Therapeutic Potential

Durham University

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Postdoctoral Research Associate in Design and Realisation of Dynamic, Multicomponent DNA Nanostructures with Therapeutic Potential  (
Job Number:
 23000379)
Department of Biosciences
Grade 7:  £36,333 – £43,155 per annum
Fixed Term  Full Time
Contract Duration: 60 Months
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date
: 23-Apr-2023, 6:59:00 PM
Disclosure and Barring Service Requirement: Not Applicable. 

The University

At Durham University we are proud of our people.  A globally outstanding centre of educational excellence, a collegiate community of extraordinary people, a unique and historic setting – Durham is a university like no other. We believe that inspiring our people to do outstanding things at Durham enables Durham people to do outstanding things professionally and personally.  

Across the University we have a huge variety of roles and career opportunities, which together make us a large and successful community, which is a key hub of activity within our region and nationally.  We would be thrilled if you would consider joining our thriving University. Further information about the University can be found here  

The Role and Department

The Department of Biosciences is composed of 62 academic staff and research fellows; around 50 research and technical support staff; over 90 Research Postgraduate students and over 500 Single Honours undergraduate students, and also teaches students from the Natural Sciences programme. The Department is committed to an ethos of research-led teaching at both BSc and MBiol levels, and was ranked 5th in the UK for Biological Sciences Departments in the Complete University Guide 2023.

Our basic science underpins applications across each-and-every sector of the bio-economy, including Biotechnology, Ecology and Agritechnology. Research programmes are grouped in the following areas: Molecular Plant Sciences; Biomolecular Interactions; Ecology, Evolution and Environment; and Animal Cells and Systems. These groups organise focused seminar series, Research Away Days, manage joint research facilities, oversee mentoring, internal peer review and serve to nucleate larger research projects. Along with our excellent research facilities such as bioimaging, proteomics, metabolomics and genomics we offer a high quality and supportive environment for our research staff.

The Dept. of Biosciences partners with other areas of research strength in Durham University including Computational Sciences and Chemistry, and encourages multidisciplinary research for Health and Wellbeing. Durham University was listed in the Times Higher World Top 50 Life Science Challengers (July 2017).

The Department holds an Athena SWAN Bronze award. Athena SWAN is a national initiative that recognises the advancement of gender equality, representation and progression. The Department embraces excellence in all of its forms and invites all qualified applicants to apply. We particularly welcome applications from women and black and minority ethnic candidates who are under-represented in the academic sector.

The Role
The newly established Centre for Programmable Biological Matter, led by Professor Jonathan Heddle is a large, multidisciplinary and well-equipped laboratory. We are developing new capabilities aimed at understanding, designing, and building biological nanomachines. Our vision is grand, and we hope our research will lead to break throughs in new materials and therapeutics. These will all be biocompatible, biodegradable and highly sustainable. We are currently recruiting a large number of people to our growing team including several Postdoctoral Research Associates (PDRA).
 
You will be the lead researcher in a project that aims to build functional, multicomponent structures from DNA origami or other nanostructured DNA
 
This Postdoctoral Research Associate position is available in this laboratory, with an expected start date of 1st September 2023 for 60 months
 
Responsibilities:

  • To understand and convey material of a specialist or highly technical nature to the team or group of people through presentations and discussions that leads to the presentation of research papers in conferences and publications.
  • To prepare and deliver presentations on research outputs/activities to audiences which may include: research sponsors, academic and non-academic audiences.
  • To publish high quality outputs, including papers for submission to peer reviewed journals and papers for presentation at conferences and workshops under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To assist with the development of research objectives and proposals.
  • To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To work with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and other colleagues in the research group, as appropriate, to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend the research portfolio.
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and offering creative or innovative solutions.
  • To liaise with research colleagues and make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding to form relationships for future research collaboration.
  • To plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning of research projects.
  • To deliver training in research techniques/approaches to peers, visitors and students as appropriate.
  • To be involved in student supervision, as appropriate, and assist with the assessment of the knowledge of students.
  • To contribute to fostering a collegial and respectful working environment which is inclusive and welcoming and where everyone is treated fairly with dignity and respect.
  • To engage in wider citizenship to support the department and wider discipline.
  • To engage in continuing professional development by participation in the undergraduate or postgraduate teaching programmes or by membership of departmental committees, etc. and by attending relevant training and development courses.   

This post is fixed term for 60 months, funding is available until the 31st August 2028.

The post-holder is employed to work on research/a research project which will be led by another colleague. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in his/her own right, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols.

Successful applicants will, ideally, be in post by 1st September 2023.

Working at Durham 

A competitive salary is only one part of the many fantastic benefits you will receive if you join the University: you will also receive access to the following fantastic benefits: 

•    30 Days annual leave per year in addition to 8 public holidays and 4 customary days per year – a total of 42 days per year.  
•    The University closes between Christmas and New Year – please include or delete if not applicable. 
•    We offer a generous pension scheme, As a new member of staff you will be automatically enrolled  into the University Superannuation Scheme (USS).
•    No matter how you travel to work, we have you covered.  We have parking across campus, a cycle to work scheme which helps you to buy a bike and discount with local bus and train companies.
•    There is a genuine commitment to developing our colleagues professionally and personally.  There is a comprehensive range of development courses, apprenticeships and access to qualifications and routes to develop your career in the University.  All staff have dedicated annual time to concentrate on their personal development opportunities. 
•    Lots of support for health and wellbeing including discounted membership for our state of the art sport and gym facilities and access to a 24-7 Employee Assistance Programme.
•    On site nursery is available and children’s clubs in the summer holidays.
•    Family friendly policies, including maternity and adoption leave, which are among the most generous in the higher education sector (and likely above and beyond many employers).
•    The opportunity to take part in staff volunteering activities to make a difference in the local community
•    Discounts are available via our benefits portal including; money off at supermarkets, high street retailers, IT products such as Apple, the cinema and days out at various attractions. 
•    A salary sacrifice scheme is also available to help you take advantage of tax savings on benefits. 
•    If you are moving to Durham, we can help with removal costs and we have a dedicated team who can help you with the practicalities such as house hunting and schools.  If you need a visa, we cover most visa costs and offer an interest free loan scheme to pay for dependant visas.

Durham University is committed to equality diversity, inclusion and values

Our collective aim is to create an open and inclusive environment where everyone can reach their full potential and we believe our staff should reflect the diversity of the global community in which we work.  As a University equality, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) are a key part of the University’s Strategy and a central part of everything we do.  We also live by our values and our Staff Code of Conduct.  At Durham we actively work towards providing an environment where our staff and students can study, work and live in a community which is supportive and inclusive. It’s important to us that all of our colleagues are aligned to both our values and commitment to EDI.

We welcome and encourage applications from members of groups who are under-represented in our work force including people with disabilities, women and black, Asian and minority ethnic communities.  If you have taken time out of your career, and you feel it relevant, let us know about it in your application.  If you are a candidate with a disability, we are committed to ensuring fair treatment throughout the recruitment process. We will make adjustments to support the interview process wherever it is reasonable to do so and, where successful, reasonable adjustments will be made to support people within their role.

Contact Information 

Department contact for academic-related enquiries

For a chat about the role or any further information please contact Professor Jonathan Heddle [email protected] .

Contact information for technical difficulties when submitting your application 

If you encounter technical difficulties when using the online application form, we prefer you send enquiries by email.  Please send your name along with a brief description of the problem you’re experiencing to [email protected]  

Alternatively, you may call 0191 334 6801 from the UK, or +44 191 334 6801 from outside the UK. This number operates during the hours of 09.00 and 17.00 Monday to Friday, UK time.  We will normally respond within one working day (Monday to Friday, excluding UK public holidays).  

How to Apply  

To progress to the assessment stage, candidates must evidence each of the essential criteria required for the role in the person specification below. It will be at the discretion of the recruiting panel as to whether they will also consider any desirable criteria, but we would urge candidates to provide evidence for all criteria.  

While some criteria will be considered at the shortlisting stage, other criteria may be considered later in the assessment process, such as questions at interview.  

Submitting your application 

We prefer to receive applications online.   We will update you about your application at various points throughout the selection process, via automated emails from our e-recruitment system. Please check your spam/junk folder periodically to make sure you have not missed any of our updates.

What to Submit 

All applicants are asked to submit: 

  • a CV and cover letter which details your experience, skills, and achievements in meeting (or the potential to meet) the criteria set out below.

Next Steps 

Short-listed candidates will be invited to the University, either virtually or in-person and will have the opportunity to meet key members of the Department.  The assessment for the post will normally include a presentation followed by an interview and we anticipate that the assessments and interviews will take place over two days in or around TBC. 

In the event that you are unable to attend in person on the date offered, it may not be possible to offer you an interview on an alternative date. 

Please note that in submitting your application Durham University will be processing your data. We would ask you to consider the relevant University Privacy Statement https://www.durham.ac.uk/about-us/governance/information-governance/privacy-notices/privacy-notices/job-applicants/ which provides information on the collation, storing and use of data.   

When appointing to this role the University must ensure that it meets any applicable immigration requirements, including salary thresholds which are applicable to some visas.


Person Specification

Essential Criteria:

Qualifications

  • A good first degree in Biological sciences, including but not limited to biochemistry, biophysics and structural biology, computational biology, computer sciences, natural sciences, mathematics, engineering.
  • A PhD (or be close to submission) in DNA nanotechnology or a related subject.
  • Skills and Experience

  • Experience in using CaDNAno, Cando. OxDNA and other DNA nanostructure design software suites, including teaching these to others
  • Demonstrated ability in In silico design of compact and wireframe DNA structures including DNA origami-based cages.
  • Experience in designing and producing topologically linked DNA origami scaffolds
  • Experience in designing DNA ring structures that seed liposome formation
  • Experience in Designing DNA structures that employ UV-light-induced cross-linking of thymidine bases.  
  • Demonstrated skill in producing publication quality renders of molecular designs using Blender.
  • Strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.
  • Demonstrated ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research meetings.
  • Ability to work independently on own initiative and to strict deadlines.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Desirable Criteria:

    Skills and Experience

  • Demonstrated ability to develop research proposals and designs in collaboration with other academics.
  • Experience of overseeing students with respect to the development of their practical/research skills e.g. acting as a demonstrator; supervising student projects/practicals.
  • Demonstrated ability to plan and manage independent research. 
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