View Vacancy -- Protein Crystallography Facility Manager - Structural Studies - Dr David Barford - LMB 828

Open Date
11/05/2018, 16:30
Close Date
11/06/2018, 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 - 3
£37,769 - £44,396
Full Time

Overall purpose:

•    To play a major role in supporting the work of the research of groups in the Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB) by leading the Protein Crystallography facility, carrying out X-ray crystal structure determinations and providing expert help and support.
•    To optimise the effectiveness of both in-house and synchrotron X-ray data collection.
•    To provide training to new X-ray users, troubleshooting problems in data collection and to maintain the in-house data collection facilities and software setup.
•    To collaborate with research groups to determine crystal structures and participate in structure analysis.
•    To oversee safety procedures in the X-ray laboratory.
•    To keep abreast of new developments in protein crystallographic technologies and methods and assess and advise on any future upgrades of the in-house X-ray facility.

Main duties and key responsibilities:

The key responsibility is to support cutting edge research.  You will be expected to provide the intellectual energy and independent thinking necessary to deliver an optimally functioning X-ray facility and to play a major role in shaping the overall aims and success of the structural objectives of the LMB.
To provide expert help and advice to all researchers in the institute solving structures by X-ray crystallography, requiring or requesting such support.  To provide expert help to researchers during structure determination by X-ray crystallography, when required, and often in collaboration with the groups performing the work.
To interact effectively with a wide range of staff, students and others to ensure the smooth running of the X-ray facility. This will include setting an example in the effective use of resources, training Students, Postdocs and others in best practice when using both the in-house facility and in collecting data at synchrotrons and taking responsibility for the use of communal facilities.
To be responsible for all aspects of supporting X-ray crystallographic data collection, including defining the goals of the facility, conducting trouble-shooting when necessary, carrying out routine maintenance of the facility and evaluating possible equipment upgrades. To arrange and facilitate engineers visits when required.
To maintain familiarity with the hardware in use at the crystallographic beamlines at Diamond Light Source (DLS) and the European Synchrotron Radiation Facility (ESRF) and other synchrotrons as required. To maintain familiarity with the software for both data processing and structure solution pipelines available at DLS and ESRF and other synchrotrons as required.
To play a major role in the organisation of the use of synchrotron beamtime, ensuring all necessary administrative procedures are followed, including sample registration, dewar shipping and, if required, accommodation.
To take on specific responsibilities for managing equipment.
To update local software installations relating to X-ray crystallography and related areas.
To create and maintain documentation relating to use of the facility and synchrotron data collection.
To maintain documents relevant to X-ray safety (Local Rules etc) and operate as the Radiation Protection Supervisor for the facility.
To act as the coordinator for the LMB Diamond Block Allocation Group (BAG), having responsibility for renewing the BAG and submitting reports on beam-time use and outputs (papers and PDB depositions).
To contribute to the MRC’s engagement with the public and in the translation of research findings into improvements in health care.

Working relationships:

You will report to Dr David Barford.

You will work with members of the Mechanical Workshop who will assist in some aspects of maintenance of the facility (eg X-ray generator filament replacement, vacuum systems, cryo-cooling systems) and with members of the Instrument Services, IT workshop and Electronics Workshop as required. You will also liaise with other Group Leaders, Research Support staff, Post-doctoral scientists and Students across the LMB.

Additional information:

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.  

The position will require some travel to synchrotrons both in the UK and abroad, and will involve working outside normal working hours, including at weekends.

Education / qualifications / training required:

Essential: Either a PhD in biology, engineering, physics, materials sciences or a related subject or an equivalent level of experience or training in a relevant area.

Previous work experience required:

•    Extensive experience in biological crystal structure determination by all common methods.
•    Extensive experience of X-ray data collection using both laboratory and synchrotron sources.
•    Experience of dealing with technical problems with in-house X-ray generators, X-ray optics and detectors.
•    Experience of organisation of synchrotron data collection trips.
•    Experience of and ability to provide training to a wide range of users.
•    Experience of using crystallographic software packages such as CCP4 or Phenix.

•    Experience of using data processing and structure solution pipelines at synchrotron sources.
•    Experience of providing research support in a laboratory environment.
•    Programming experience.

Knowledge and experience:

Creativity and initiative
Essential: Experience working independently in a creative and insightful way to trouble-shoot complex problems.

Independent working
•    Ability to work independently in maintaining the facility, while making use of other facilities (mechanical and electronic workshops, IT workshop) when appropriate.
•    Ability to devise written protocols and provide reports on the facility.
•    Excellent time management, with an ability to be self-motivated and to organise time effectively.

Desirable: Ability to provide assistance with structure solutions.

Verbal and written communication skills
•    Excellent interpersonal skills with the ability to communicate at all levels of technical complexity with novice and advanced users, as well as experts including service engineers.
•    Ability to provide clear documentation of protocols and written reports.

Personal skills / behaviours / qualities:

Essential: Excellent standards of professional conduct.

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.