View Vacancy -- Lead – Nucleic Acid Chemistry Research and Innovation (1864)

Open Date
10/06/2022, 14:30
Close Date
10/07/2022, 23:55

The Medical Research Council (MRC), as part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), have invested a total of £30m over 4 years through the Strategic Priorities Fund to establish a nucleic acid therapy accelerator (NATA) that will support state-of-the-art interdisciplinary research to solve critical issues in nucleic acid drug delivery, through focused NATA research challenges and a NATA infrastructure hub.

The NATA will focus on bringing together key stakeholders around the infrastructure hub while catalysing collaborative R&D activity with focused support to tackle significant barriers facing oligonucleotide therapy 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 - 2
Harwell Campus, Oxfordshire
£50,864 - £62,823
Technical & Scientific Professionals
Full Time

NATA is seeking a dynamic and accomplished individual to join as Lead, Nucleic Acid Chemistry Research and Innovation. This is an exciting role based full time at Harwell, that requires leadership, initiative and drive. Reporting to the Executive Director, you will be responsible for the strategic development of relevant chemistry capabilities and in-house expertise, leading a growing team to deliver internal and collaborative R&D and technology programmes with academic and commercial partners.

Key Responsibilities 

  • Planning and execution of the scientific strategy of NATA’s chemistry research and innovation programme, including the identification of new chemical modalities and next generation technologies for therapeutic oligonucleotides
  • Contribute to the long-term objectives and scientific direction of NATA including the development of NATA’s IP portfolio
  • Build a research team to provide the capacity and capability to deliver internal and collaborative research projects, including organic synthesis of novel chemical modalities for therapeutic oligonucleotides and the development of new bio-conjugation technology
  • Generating and managing strategic collaborations
  • Planning and management of the resource requirements (staff and infrastructure) needed to deliver R&D projects
  • Responsibility for the recruitment, management, training and career development of team members
  • Provide leadership and mentorship to research team members
  • Identifying, obtaining and managing non-MRC sources of funding
  • Determine the strategy for dissemination of research outputs through publication of results in high-quality, peer-reviewed journals, the generation of white papers and presentations at national and international scientific meetings
  • Maintain comprehensive domain knowledge expertise
  • Identify, evaluate and implement relevant new technologies
  • Take an active role in training, education and outreach activities

Selection Criteria 

  • Hold a PhD in organic chemistry or chemical biology
  • Significant postdoctoral experience gained in academia or industry with a focus on nucleic acid chemistry
  • Demonstrable in-depth knowledge and experience of nucleic acid and oligonucleotide chemistry, including the design and synthesis of novel modifications for therapeutic oligonucleotides
  • Demonstrable in-depth knowledge and experience in bio-conjugation methods
  • Demonstrable knowledge and experience in oligonucleotide functionalised nanomaterials
  • Growing reputation in the field, as evidenced by high-impact peer reviewed publications, conference awards and inventorships/filed patents
  • Proven ability to write successful grant applications
  • Hands on experience in the synthesis of chemically-modified oligonucleotides
  • Hands on experience in oligonucleotide purification including reverse phase and ion exchange chromatography
  • Experience in oligonucleotide analysis including LC-MS
  • Demonstrable ability to manage research projects with high levels of productivity
  • Flexible and adaptable, able to manage changing priorities
  • Promote a culture of effective communication and collaboration

Personal Skills and Behaviours

  • Excellent organizational and leadership abilities
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills (both oral and written)
  • Ability to work with multi-disciplinary teams
  • Ability to bring teams together to improve processes
  • Ability to work successfully under pressure
  • Attention to detail
  • High levels of diplomacy and discretion
  • Ability to prioritise workload
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.