View Vacancy -- Researcher – Biology- NATA 2363

Open Date
21/02/2024, 13:30
Close Date
13/03/2024, 23:55
The Medical Research Council (MRC), as part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), has invested a total of £30M to establish the Nucleic Acid Therapy Accelerator (NATA) that will support state-of-the-art interdisciplinary research to solve critical issues in nucleic acid therapeutics. NATA has state of the art chemistry and biology laboratories and capabilities located on the Harwell Research and Innovation Campus, Oxfordshire alongside the MRC Harwell Mary Lyon Centre, National Mouse Genetics Facility. This internationally unique resource is focussed on bringing together key stakeholders in the field to tackle and solve significant problems facing oligonucleotide therapy design, manufacture and delivery to key organs. This investment will support capacity building in terms of equipment, upskilling and domain expertise that will be essential in developing critical mass to catalyse and de-risk the development of next generation nucleic acid therapeutics.
UK Research and Innovation is a new entity that brings together nine partners to create an independent organisation with a strong voice for research and innovation, more information can be found at

MRC - 4
£39,375-£41,843 per annum (depending on experience, plus inner London allowance)
plus inner London allowance
Fixed Term
Full Time
23 months

We are seeking to appoint a highly motivated and enthusiastic scientist to work on a collaborative project between NATA and University College London (UCL). The project aims to develop personalized antisense oligonucleotide (ASO) therapy for primary ciliary dyskinesia (PCD), a rare respiratory disorder affecting cilia function. The researcher will work on the design and evaluation of different ASO chemistries and modifications using airway cellular models, including air-liquid interface cultures. They will use optimal analytical methodologies to assess the efficacy of novel ASOs at RNA, protein and functional levels. The successful candidate is expected to have a strong work ethic, knowledge in nucleic acid drug development and to be experienced in cell and molecular biology. The NATA employee will be seconded to work full-time in the laboratories of Prof Hannah Mitchison and Dr Haiyan Zhou on RNA therapy, in collaboration with the teams of Prof Stephen Hart and Chris O’Callaghan, all based at the UCL GOS Institute of Child Health, London.


  • Undertake laboratory experiments as required by the project and analyse/report data (presentations, verbal and written report)
  • Carry out target design, target screening, validation and toxicology assessment of nucleic acid therapeutics
  • Perform efficacy assessment using mRNA/protein quantification methods and a range of cilia functional assessments including immunofluorescence and high speed video imaging
  • Research and establish new techniques and methods for quantification and localization of nucleic acid therapeutics after administration in vitro and in vivo
  • Identify, develop and apply different techniques as required to pursue the research objectives
  • Prepare standard protocols for novel methods
  • Ensure all work is carried out in accordance with the host institution’s regulations as appropriate
  • Update the co-supervisors in a timely way on any results and prepare research updates regularly
  • Keep excellent scientific records
  • Contribute to the smooth running of the group, including the effective use and management of resources, training of others and taking responsibility for use of communal facilities
  • Enhance your research and generic skills through a tailored development programme
  • Present work internally and at national and international meetings
  • Maintain a good knowledge of the relevant literature and of the wider field and actively promote this to the group
  • Work effectively with collaborators
  • Supervise students, visitors and trainees as necessary on specific projects

The postholder will carry out any other duties as are within the scope, spirit and purpose of the job as requested by the line manager and co-supervisors.

Selection criteria

Essential selection criteria

  • Hold a relevant undergraduate degree biology, pharmacology, toxicology or a related discipline
  • Experience of conventional and advanced cell culture approaches with cell lines / primary cells
  • Fluorescence/confocal microscopy and image analysis
  • Cell-based screening assays such as ELISA, luciferase, fluorescence and western blotting
  • High level of creativity and independence in developing innovative analysis methods and solving complex problems
  • Experience and knowledge of data analysis and interpretation
  • Experience of managing biology projects and resources
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Ability to analyse data in the literature and place own work in the context of work in the field
  • Passionate about collaborative working and building relationships to reach common goals
  • High level organisational skills, with the ability to manage a broad range of jobs simultaneously and under pressure
  • Flexible and adaptable, able to manage changing priorities
  • Capable of critical thinking
  • Working and adhering to standard operating procedures and experience of process analysis and refinement
  • Organised, hard-working with a strong eye for detail and able to work as part of a team
  • Demonstrate ability to meet milestones

Desirable selection criteria

  • Interdisciplinary skills with an emphasis on chemistry/pharmacology, especially quantification methods and characterization of nucleic acid-protein interactions
  • Experience of the analysis of oligonucleotides: quantification, localization, stability
  • Fundamental knowledge in the regulation of gene expression, RNA splicing, and protein translation
  • Knowledge of nucleotide structure and modifications
  • Experience with respiratory organ systems
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.

UKRI supports research in areas that include animal health, agriculture and food security, and bioscience for health which includes research on animals, genetic modification and stem cell research. Whilst you may not have direct involvement in this type of research, you should consider whether this conflicts with your personal values or beliefs.

We will conduct a full and comprehensive pre-employment check as an essential part of the recruitment process on all individuals that are offered a position with UKRI. This will include a security check and an extreme organisations affiliation check.  The role holder will be required to have the appropriate level of security screening/vetting required for the role.  UKRI reserves the right to run or re-run security clearance as required during the course of employment.

This opportunity is closed to applications.