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View Vacancy -- Postdoctoral Scientist - TOX - 439

Open Date
30/01/2017 16:00
Close Date
28/02/2017 23:55
MRC Toxicology Unit

The Medical Research Council Toxicology Unit, located at the University of Leicester, is an internationally renowned institution focussed on the delivery of field-changing mechanistic insights into toxicology and disease. The Unit is equipped with state-of-the-art facilities and offers excellent opportunities for postdoctoral development. The Unit is expected to relocate to the University of Cambridge early 2020.

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MRC - 4
£30,162 - £31,099
*Plus training allowances where appropriate
Fixed Term
Full Time
Three Years

We are looking to appoint a Postdoctoral Research Scientist specialising in RNA biology and biochemical techniques to join the MicroRNA Regulation of Gene Expression Group led by Professor Martin Bushell to work on a project to determine the mechanism by which microRNAs control gene-expression.

The project


This BBSRC funded project grant is to determine the ‘mechanism by which microRNAs control gene-expression’.

MicroRNAs have emerged as a major mechanism of gene regulation in metazoans, controlling the expression of approximately 60% of all protein encoding genes. These non-coding RNA molecules are ~21 nucleotides in length and exert their activity by base-pairing with specific mRNAs (normally within the 3`UTR) inhibiting gene expression at the post-transcriptional level.

Since their discovery, numerous studies have documented the fundamental roles of these small RNA molecules in virtually all aspects of life and disease. However, the mechanisms by which these molecules function to repress gene-expression has remained unclear and controversial.

Recently, we and others have shown that delivery of a miRNA to a target mRNA results in the recruitment of the Ccr4-Not complex. CNOT1, a central component of this complex, then triggers both translational repression, which is mediated by interacting DEAD-box RNA helicases, and leads to mRNA decay by interacting with deadenylation enzymes. A number of laboratories, including ours, have shown that translation repression occurs as the first step in the miRNA repression pathway, and is followed by deadenylation.

Two major points of contention remain within the community; firstly, the contribution of translational repression to miRNA mechanism and secondly, the identity of the helicase(s) bound to cNOT1. Importantly, how recruitment of cNOT1 with its associated helicase results in inhibiting translation is still completely unknown. The aims of this project are to resolve and understand the mechanistic heart of the miRNA-repression apparatus, to finally understand how repression is achieved.


The successful applicant will use variety of next generation sequencing and advanced bioinformatics approach to investigate how these helicase exert control over gene-expression.

Main duties / key responsibilities:


  1. Within the overall direction of the programme of the group, and in discussion with the Programme Leader, the post-holder will make a significant input into designing the experiments to examine the mechanism by which microRNAs control gene expression.

  2. To develop and apply a broad range of techniques in order to pursue the research objectives of the group.

  3. To participate in collaborative research, both within and external to the Toxicology Unit.

  4. To be actively engaged in the dissemination of new research results in the form of scientific papers.

  5. To present scientific work at seminars within the Unit and at external meetings where appropriate.

  6. To communicate and collaborate with others to develop the most appropriate methodologies, and to receive training in the use of relevant experimental techniques.

  7. To contribute towards the smooth running of the group including the effective use of resources, training of others e.g. visiting workers/students and taking responsibility for the use of communal facilities.

  8. To contribute to the Unit’s mission in the public engagement of science.


  1. To enhance personal research and generic skills through a tailored development programme.


Education /Qualifications /Training required:




  • PhD (or equivalent) in a biological sciences subject, particularly molecular biology, biochemistry or related areas.


Previous work experience required:




  • To have experience of working with RNA, cloning, tissue culture, western blotting, qPCR, immunofluorescence, microRNA methods and immunoprecipitation.




  • Deep-sequencing and advanced bioinformatics skills.  


Knowledge and experience:




  • Proven skills in working independently to solve experimental problems*
  • Ability to establish new techniques in the laboratory*




  • Experience of training  others ‘on the job’ and ability to write manuscripts for international journals.


Personal skills/behaviours/qualities:




  • Vision and ability to plan and manage projects over the medium term*
  • Able to demonstrate leadership ability within their research*
  • Drive and focus to work at highly competitive international level*
  • Strong commitment to team work*
  • Good publication record in a peer-reviewed journal




  • Able to collaborate and provide advice to other researchers both inside and outside the Unit*

* For those who have only recently completed their doctoral studies (or who may be more experienced and moving into a new research discipline or with limited experience of key transferable skills) you will be given the choice upon appointment of undertaking the MRC Post-Doctoral Training Scheme which provides you with personal allowances of £1,000 initial settlement plus an annual training allowance of £850 increasing to £1,300 in year two, and £1,800 in the third year.


This post is of a finite duration and offers no guarantee of continued employment with the MRC.

Please include your CV with your application to include full details of publications (including those submitted for review).


The Toxicology Unit is a member of Athena Swan.


*To be assessed at interview stage.

The MRC is a great place to work and progress your career, be it in scientific research or the support functions.

The MRC is a unique working environment where our researchers are rewarded by world class innovation and collaboration opportunities that the MRC name brings. The MRC is an excellent place to develop yourself further and a range of training & development opportunities will be available to you, including professional registration with the Science Council.

Choosing to come to work at the MRC (part of UKRI) means that you will have access to a whole host of benefits from a defined benefit pension scheme and excellent holiday entitlement to access to employee shopping/travel discounts and salary sacrifice cycle to work scheme, as well as the chance to put the MRC and UKRI on your CV in the future.

Our success is dependent upon our ability to embrace diversity and draw on the skills, understanding and experience of all our people. We welcome applications from all sections of the community irrespective of gender, race, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability or age. As "Disability Confident" employers, we guarantee to interview all applicants with disabilities who meet the minimum criteria for the vacancy.

Final appointments will be subject to pre-employment screening.

This opportunity is closed to applications.