Research Associate

Imperial College London

Job description
Job summary

The research programme in molecular bacteriology, led by Prof. José R Penadés, will analyse the impact of phages in the emergence of antibiotic resistant bacteria. Bacteriophage-mediated gene transfer is a major evolutionary force occurring by two well-described mechanisms: generalized and specialized transduction. We have recently discovered that Staphylococcus and Salmonella phages engage in lateral transduction, the most powerful mode of transduction described to date.  In this project, analysing important pathogens, we will investigate whether this ground-breaking strategy of gene transfer is widespread in nature. We anticipate that the results of this study will challenge basic and fundamental concepts of phage biology, which will be revisited here. Moreover, the proposed research has the potential to fundamentally restructure our understanding of the roles of bacteriophages in bacterial evolution, including the development of antimicrobial resistance and virulence in clinical strains.

Selected papers from the lab

Fillol-Salom A, Rostøl JT, Ojiogu AD, Chen J, Douce G, Humphrey S, Penadés JR. 2022. Bacteriophages benefit from mobilizing pathogenicity islands encoding immune systems against competitors. Cell 185:3248-3262.e20.

Chen J, Quiles-Puchalt N, Chiang YN, Bacigalupe R, Fillol-Salom A, Chee MSJ, Fitzgerald JR, Penadés JR . 2018. Genome hypermobility by lateral transduction. Science 362:207–212.

Tormo-Más MÁ, Mir I, Shrestha A, Tallent SM, Campoy S, Lasa I, Barbé J, Novick RP, Christie GE, Penadés JR. 2010. Moonlighting bacteriophage proteins derepress staphylococcal pathogenicity islands. Nature 465:779–782.

Haag AF, Podkowik M, Ibarra-Chávez R, Sol FG del, Ram G, Chen J, Marina A, Novick RP, Penadés JR . 2021. A regulatory cascade controls Staphylococcus aureus pathogenicity island activation. Nat Microbiol 6:1300–1308.

Fillol-Salom A, Bacarizo J, Alqasmi M, Ciges-Tomas JR, Martínez-Rubio R, Roszak AW, Cogdell RJ, Chen J, Marina A, Penadés JR . 2019. Hijacking the hijackers: Escherichia coli pathogenicity islands redirect helper phage packaging for their own benefit. Mol Cell 75:1020-1030.e4.

Duties and responsibilities

  • To take initiatives in the planning of research
  • To direct the work of small research teams
  • To conduct data analysis
  • To write reports for submission to research sponsors
  • To present findings to colleagues and at conferences
  • To submit publications to refereed journals
  • To develop contacts and research collaborations within the College and the wider community
  • To promote the reputation of the Group, the Department and the College
  • To provide guidance to PhD Students
  • To maintain highly organised and accurate record of experimental work
  • To actively participate in the research programme of the Group
  • To participate in Group research meetings and internal seminars
  • To contribute to the smooth running of the Group’s laboratories and, facilities with other scientists, clinicians, technicians and students within the laboratories
  • Assist in the supervision of undergraduate and postgraduate research students and research assistants as required
  • Any other duties as may be deemed reasonable by Head of group as well as Head of Division/Department/Section

Essential requirements

  • Research Associate: Hold or be about to obtain a PhD in microbiology or a closely related discipline, or equivalent research, industrial or commercial experience
  • Research Assistant: Near completion of a PhD in microbiology or a closely related discipline, or equivalent research, industrial or commercial experience
  • Practical experience within a research environment and / or publication in relevant and refereed journals
  • Experience of dealing with [specific groups of people, e.g. sponsors, patients]
  • Practical experience in a broad range of techniques including molecular biology, microbiology, phage biology, transduction.
  • Practical experience within a research environment and / or publication in relevant and refereed journals

Further information

This is a full time and fixed term post for 12 months. You will be based at the South Kensington Campus.

Candidates who have not yet been officially awarded their PhD will be appointed as a Research Assistant within the salary range £38,194 – £41,388 per annum.

Should you require any further details on the role please contact: José R Penadés, [email protected]

The College is a proud signatory to the San-Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA),which means that in hiring and promotion decisions, we evaluate applicants on the quality of their work, not the journal impact factor where it is published. For more information, see

The College believes that the use of animals in research is vital to improve human and animal health and welfare. Animals may only be used in research programmes which are ultimately aimed towards finding new treatments and making scientific and medical advances, and where there are no satisfactory or reasonably practical alternatives to their use. Imperial is committed to ensuring that, in cases where this research is deemed essential, all animals in the College’s care are treated with full respect, and that all staff involved with this work show due consideration at every level.Find out more about animal research at Imperial .


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