View Vacancy -- Postdoctoral Scientist - PNAC - Dr Jason Chin - LMB 1067

Open Date
05/04/2019, 14:10
Close Date
08/05/2019, 23:55
MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology

The MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) is one of the birthplaces of modern molecular biology and has played an important role in the development of many new techniques, most notably protein crystallography, cryo-electron microscopy, DNA sequencing and monoclonal antibodies.  The LMB has a clear goal of understanding biological processes at the molecular level, with the ultimate aim of using this knowledge to tackle specific problems in human health and disease.  We aim to tackle difficult, long-term problems, which often require investment over many years.

There are four scientific Divisions - Structural Studies, Protein and Nucleic Acid Chemistry, Cell Biology and Neurobiology.  However, scientific collaboration between the different Divisions is extensive.  Scientists are well supported by excellent scientific facilities and by the LMB Operations Group which maintains the core infrastructure and services of the institute.

The LMB provides an unsurpassed environment for both new and established researchers.  Scientists are drawn to the LMB from all over the world, thus creating a lively and international community for the exchange of ideas and technical innovation.

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
£30,914 - £33,755
Fixed Term
Full Time
3 Years

Overall purpose:

To work within the Group of Dr Jason Chin at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB), with the aim of designing, executing and analysing high-throughput experiments. You will be specifically responsible for developing and validating automated workflows for otherwise complex manual protocols and exploring new applications for a highly integrated laboratory robotics and liquid handling system.

Main duties:

• To undertake research aimed at developing automated workflows.
• To contribute to Laboratory-wide discussions on developments within the Laboratory, particularly in the use of new techniques or new equipment.
• To identify, develop and apply a broad range of techniques to pursue the research objectives this will include learning to maintain an existing laboratory automation platform that currently integrates liquid handling, bacterial colony picking, microplate photometry and a shaking incubator using a SCARA to allow the research objectives to be pursued.
• To present scientific work at seminars within the Laboratory and at external meetings.
• To contribute to Laboratory-wide discussions on developments within the field.
• To draft scientific papers, and contribute to the overall preparation of research for publication.
• To contribute to the LMB’s mission in the public engagement of science, and the translation of research findings into improvements in health care.
• To assist in the training of PhD Students and other members of the LMB in laboratory automation. To learn to support users through all stages of a research project, including project design, execution and documentation, and to learn to assess and utilize the full potential of automation for new and ongoing projects.

Key responsibilities:

Within the overall direction of the programme, the Group, the remit of the project and in discussion with the Group Leader, you will make a significant input into determining the direction of the project within a 3 year lifespan.

To plan your own work and objectives on a 12 month basis and manage your experimental work within the project along with your Supervisor.

To develop an understanding of automation needs in the Division and develop the capacity for automation in the Division as necessary. You will be expected to identify new equipment and software, which will assist the programmes with their automation needs and present argued cases for new purchases, as necessary.

To work with limited supervision to identify, develop, modify and apply the necessary techniques to achieve the goals of the project(s).

To introduce and apply new techniques across a wide range of disciplines and to have the creativity and initiative to develop novel approaches and methods where required.

To ensure the research is carried out in accordance with good practice and in compliance with local policies and legal requirements.

To contribute to the smooth running of the Group, the effective use of resources, training of others and taking responsibility for use of communal facilities. This includes day-to-day operations and maintenance as well as establishing automation as an available option for researchers within the institute. You will be expected to advise users on if, when and how automation should be employed throughout a project, and thereby maximize the impact of the available platforms and to prepare proof-of-concept automation workflows.

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

Working relationships:

You will report to Dr Chin and will interact and collaborate with other Postdoctoral Scientists, Research Support Staff and Students within the PNAC Division, and also across the LMB and with external Groups as necessary.

Additional information:

This is a 3-year training and development position for a Postdoctoral Scientist who has recently completed their doctoral studies, is moving into a new research discipline or has limited experience of key transferable skills. We support Postdoctoral Scientists with a range of formal and on-the-job training, including:
• MRC training courses.
• External training and personal development courses.
• One-to-one training with your Supervisor and other Scientists.

You will commit to undertaking the following:
• Developing and following a personal development plan.
• Attending training courses.
• Identifying additional training which will support you to develop your career.

The above lists are not exhaustive and you are required to undertake such duties as may reasonably be requested within the scope of the post. All employees are required to act professionally, co-operatively and flexibly in line with the requirements of the post and the MRC.

Academic qualifications:

These should include a PhD in a biological, computational or other relevant science or engineering subject, or due to complete doctoral studies (in a relevant subject) within 6 months of applying.

An undergraduate degree in a subject complementary or cross-disciplinary to the PhD. E.g. an IT or engineering undergraduate degree with a biological PhD or vice versa is desirable.

Technical skills and expertise:

Experience of and ability to perform techniques relevant to the field. Particularly useful would be experience in some of the following:

• Automating complex assays in 96/384-well formats (NGS sample preparation, DNA extraction, enzymatic assays).
• Biomek, Sami and Dart automation and data management software (Beckman).
• Analysis and documentation of data from large scale screening experiments.
• Programming in for dynamic data processing and low-level hardware access.
• Setting up internal work flows for non-specialists to perform validated automation methods
Programming in Python, R or Mathlab for data processing.
• Maintaining a Microsoft SQL database or other relational databases.
• Automatic image processing using ImageMagick, MS powershell or other scripting tools.
• Molecular Devices QPix colony picking hardware & software.
• Integrating new labware and hardware into an laboratory automation platform.
• Maintaining robotics and support hardware (mechanics & electronics).
• Developing or maintaining a LIMS system.
• Analysis of biological data.
• Collaborating with experimental biologists doing wet work.
• High-throughput screening or laboratory automation.

Track record of research:

This will include achievements, and contributions to published papers.

Other relevant evidence of:

• Commitment.
• Originality.
• Ability to communicate.
• Working with others.

Additional information:

• Demonstrates understanding of molecular biology.
• Ability to multi-task on concurrent projects.

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.

This opportunity is closed to applications.