Research Fellow in Radiochemistry – INTERNAL ONLY

King's College London

Job id: 073866. Salary: £51,174 per annum, including London Weighting Allowance.

Posted: 30 August 2023. Closing date: 10 September 2023.

Business unit: Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine. Department: Imaging Chemistry & Biology.

Contact details:Laura Zappulla. [email protected]

Location: St. Thomas’ Campus. Category: Research.


Job description

We are seeking a talented, highly skilled and motivated Postdoctoral Research Associate to work on the design, synthesis and characterisation of novel small molecule radiotracers for cancer imaging.

This is an exciting opportunity to join the Molecular Imaging Lab at King’s College London ( ), a vibrant multidisciplinary research group within one of the premier biomedical imaging centres in Europe.

The post holder will have access to new state-of-the-art organic and radiochemistry facilities (due Q1 2025) and a vast array of small animal and clinical imaging modalities, further supported by the cutting-edge equipment and core facilities at King’s. Our Group has a track record of research excellence, substantial grant funding, and awards (e.g. World Molecular Imaging Congress’ Young Investigator of the Year Award, CME postdoctoral Fellowship). We are dedicated to supporting the successful candidate’s career through assistance with Fellowship applications, networking events, and attendance at international conferences. The successful candidate will have extensive experience in synthetic and radio-chemistry, be self-motivated, able to work independently, and will have excellent written and verbal communication skills. The applicant must have a Ph.D. in organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry or radiochemistry, and a track record of research excellence at postdoctoral level. They should be able to demonstrate a proven track record of scientific publications as first author in their chosen field.

Applicants with radiochemistry experience (fluorine-18 preferred) and a keen interest in chemical biology and multidisciplinary research are especially encouraged to apply, although this is not a prerequisite. Hands-on training will be given to the successful candidate. 

Therapy resistance is one of the biggest problems currently facing clinical oncology. Currently, there is no satisfactory way to identify patients that will and those that will not respond to treatment. Positron emission tomography (PET) imaging offers a potential solution to this clinical problem through the non-invasive assessment of molecular processes that underpin therapy-resistance. The identification of cancer patients that are refractory to treatment will allow the selection of second-line therapies that have the potential to improve patient response and survival. Employing a combination of innovative preclinical imaging strategies, we are developing new tools to non-invasively assess the mechanisms that tumour cells employ to resist treatment, following substantial investment by the Wellcome Trust (£2.4m).

The successful candidate will develop new chemistry and novel fluorine-18 labelled radiotracers for imaging with positron emission tomography (PET) to support this programme of research. In collaboration with the new GMP radiochemistry facility at KCL (the PEARL), we will translate these novel imaging methods to the clinic.

This post will be offered on an fixed-term contract until 28th Feb 2026.

This is a full-time post – 100% full time equivalent

Key responsibilities

  • To plan and conduct a high quality programme of research in the design and development of novel small molecule fluorine-18 radiotracers for cancer imaging with positron emission tomography
  • To synthesise and characterise a library of non-radioactive reference compounds and precursors for radiolabelling
  • To set up new radiochemistry reactions, including, but not limited to fluorine-18 radiochemistry
  • Develop automation protocols for routine radiochemistry production
  • Perform some routine radiochemistry production for the biological evaluation of existing radiotracers (performed by other members of the Group)
  • Support the PI with the writing of grant applications
  • To maintain accurate and complete records, including full characterisation of all new compounds prepared (NMR, HR MS, IR, melting points, radiochemical yield, specific activity etc.)
  • To provide information required for the quality assurance of laboratory analyses undertaken
  • To draft scientific presentations and publications
  • To attend all research group and wider Departmental group meetings, as directed by the PI
  • Help in further grant writing
  • To perform systematic reviews of the literature
  • In consultation with the PI, to contribute to the training of junior staff
  • Participate in teaching activities if the candidate so wishes
  • Assist in maintaining good laboratory discipline and safety practices and set a professional example to others
  • Take responsibility as part of the team for maintaining specific items of equipment and training others in their use
  • General lab management
  • Maintain accurate records of experimental work
  • The possibility to participate in public engagement activities

To participate in any laboratory duties commensurate with the grade as required.

The above list of responsibilities may not be exhaustive, and the post holder will be required to undertake such tasks and responsibilities as may reasonably be expected within the scope and grading of the post.

Skills, knowledge, and experience

Essential criteria

  • Undergraduate degree in chemistry
  • PhD awarded in organic chemistry, medicinal chemistry, radiochemistry, or similar
  • Postdoctoral experience in radiochemistry or similar
  • Expert knowledge and skills in the design, synthesis, purification and characterisation of novel organic compounds
  • Expertise in analytical/quality-control techniques (e.g., HPLC, NMR, mass-spec)
  • Strong track record of publications in the field of organic/medicinal chemistry
  • Resourceful, creative and able to act on own initiative
  • The ability to take individual responsibility for planning and undertaking own work, according to scientific deadlines
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills
  • Ability to organise and prioritise work
  • Meticulous attention to detail in experimental design and execution is required
  • Good interpersonal skills with an ability to work co-operatively in a multidisciplinary setting
  • Desirable criteria

  • Experience in the radiolabelling of small molecules with fluorine-18
  • Experience in the labelling of radiopharmaceuticals with other PET isotopes
  • Engaging in interdisciplinary research projects
  • Presenting results at conferences
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