View Vacancy -- Programme Leader/Programme Leader Track - Structural Studies - Dr David Barford and Dr Sjors Scheres - LMB 1922

Open Date
01/09/2022, 12:00
Close Date
29/09/2022, 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 X-ray crystallography of proteins, 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.

With the opening of our new laboratory the LMB provides an unsurpassed environment for both young 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 - 2
£52,877 - £65,348 per annum for appointment to Programme Leader Track/ £77,453 - £87,304 per annum for appointment to Programme Leader
Full Time

Overall purpose: 

To lead an internationally competitive research programme at the Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) in the area of structural biology that will lead to solving long-term fundamental questions.  You will draw on the knowledge and expertise of other colleagues both within and outside the LMB through collaborative inputs and team-working. Your research programme should be suitably ambitious to take full advantage of the outstanding and stable research environment at the LMB.  

Main duties/ Key responsibilities:

•    To develop and lead a programme of research in the area of computational approaches for the quantitative understanding of macromolecular structure, design, folding and/or dynamics, or to develop computational (including machine learning) approaches to visualise and interpret cryo-electron tomography data.
•    To publish the work of the group in appropriate internationally visible scientific journals and other relevant media.
•    To present the results of the research at national and international meetings and conferences.
•    To recruit, train and line manage group members.
•    To manage the financial and equipment resources of the group including purchasing and managing the effective use of capital equipment.
•    To translate the results of research into useful new approaches or treatments that improve human health.
•    To contribute to the MRC’s engagement with the public and in particular to communicate the excitement of research to the public and taxpayer.
•    To ensure that any intellectual property is protected for the benefit of the country and the world.

Key Responsibilities:

•    Planning the scientific direction of the research programme aimed at key questions within the overall scientific remit of the Structural Studies Division; being accountable for presenting the programme for peer review in accordance with MRC funding procedures.
•    Directing the activities of the research group by supervising some projects personally and overseeing projects delegated to group members. The post holder will be expected to provide the intellectual energy and independent thinking necessary to lead a programme of cutting-edge research and to shape the overall aims and success of the group.
•    Disseminating the research output from the group by publication of results, presentations at scientific meetings and responding to media enquiries.
•    Determining, obtaining and managing the resource requirements to sustain the programme, including the staffing structure required for taking forward the programme of research.
•    Taking responsibility for the recruitment, management, training and career development of group members, including line management and performance management, in accordance with the MRC’s policies and procedures.
•    Generating and managing collaborations both within the Division and LMB and with external establishments.
•    Recognising and acting on opportunities for the creation of intellectual property and cooperating in patent protection and in exploitation.
•    Contributing to the MRC’s commitment in the areas of training, enhancing public awareness of scientific issues, interaction with academic and health service providers and commercial exploitation where appropriate.
•    Maintaining a broad balanced and informed perspective of current scientific issues especially those pertaining directly to the field of research.
•    Contributing to scientific progress in the field as a whole by, for example, membership of expert committees, editing specialist journals, refereeing funding applications.
•    Contributing to public communications initiatives in order to facilitate greater public engagement with science.
•    Ensuring the research is conducted in accordance with good practice and in compliance with local policies and legal requirements.

Working relationships: 

You will report to the Joint Heads of Division. As an independent Programme Leader (Track) you will interact with scientists and support staff at all levels within Structural Studies and the LMB, and externally with senior personnel in the national and international research community, including research institutes, funding bodies and commercial companies.

Additional information:

Programme Leader appointments will be made for those who are already established leaders in their fields. Programme Leader-track appointments will be made for those who have demonstrated the potential to develop into tenured Programme Leaders within six years.

Candidates with appropriate levels of experience may be given responsibility for oversight of core scientific activities with the LMB.

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.  

Education / qualifications / training required: 

Essential: Ph.D. in a biological, physical or mathematical subject

Desirable: Significant track record with clear emphasis on quality rather than quantity, with relevance to the main aims of the post in structural biology.

Previous work experience required: 

Essential: Independent and internationally successful work on a relevant subject. 

Knowledge and experience: 

•    Has game-changing ideas for the development of computational methods, either for the understanding of protein folding, protein dynamics and/or macromolecular design, or for approaches to visualise and interpret cryo-electron tomography data.
•    Can demonstrate that the proposed research meshes well with the present and future science of the Division.
•    Can demonstrate scientific innovation, enabling apparently intractable problems to be successfully tackled and overcome.
•    Demonstrates, through track record of publications and other outputs, an ability to initiate and solve challenging and important questions in structural and cell biology.
•    Proven experience in presenting and defending the results of research at international conferences and meetings.

•    Successful delivery of projects from the proposal stage through to completion. 
•    Evidence of having influenced knowledge or wider practice in the field.
•    Experience of providing the critical thinking required to create and run an independent research programme.
•    Has taken active role in successful collaborations both within the home institute and externally, influencing outcomes and/or direction.
•    Ability to recognise and act on opportunities for the creation of intellectual property and the exploitation of commercial potential; cooperating in patent protection and other mechanisms used by home institute to protect intellectual property.
•    Has experience of managing resources (funding, equipment, people).
•    Experience in recruiting, training and line managing PhD students and postdoctoral researchers.
•    Experience of communicating with a wide range of stakeholders including the press, public, schools etc.

Personal skills / behaviours / qualities: 

•    Proactive and creative independent thinker.
•    Ability to lead people within a research group in an inspiring manner, strong skills in working with staff of different levels, including non-science specialists, across the home institute.
•    Ability to take critical and timely decisions.
•    Tenacity and resilience. 

Additional information: 

We are looking for a dynamic individual with a flair for innovation and methods development who will contribute across the LMB as well as within the Division. 

We anticipate that interviews will take place between 7th - 18th November 2022 at the MRC Laboratory Of Molecular Biology.
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.