3 year Postdoctoral Researcher in Molecular Biology (NHM Disease Initiative), London, UK


Post at the Natural History Museum, London, UK

Closing date for application: 13/Jan/2013

The Department of Life Sciences is seeking to employ a suitably qualified Postdoctoral Researcher in molecular parasitology to enhance NHM capabilities for disease research. Focussing principally on neglected and emerging diseases, the successful candidate will work on a variety of projects with established Researchers, Collections and Facilities staff in making use of established and new collections for the molecular characterization of agents and vectors of disease. Established collections include helminths, and arthropod and mollusc vectors, and molluscs amongst other metazoan taxa. New collections will include focussing on similar metazoan groups as well as protists, myxozoans and other microscopic taxa. Enhancing morphological, tissue, archival and environmental collections with molecular data for diagnostics, species discovery, phylogenetics and molecular ecology (including population genetics and epidemiology), will be the focus of this 3 year research programme. High throughput Sanger and next generation sequencing, developing robotic and informatic workflows for a diversity of biological samples, and delivering new methodologies will link to the needs of NHM research and curation, and help connect to a wider user community requiring expert systematics as the basis for disease research.  Anticipated outputs include a diversity of publications in the primary literature, enhanced NHM collections and research capacities and applications for external funding.

Summary of role

The postholder will lead the day-to-day operation of the Disease Initiative project entitled "Enhancing NHM resources and capabilities for disease research". The tasks consist of three areas: molecular biology and data analysis (including Sanger and next generation sequencing), developing informatic and bioinformatic workflows, and contributing to informatics (linking information to collections and online databases where appropriate). Opportunities to get involved with disease modelling and molecular ecological and phylogenetic analyses will also present themselves, particularly with a view to developing diagnostic and other molecular markers. The jobholder will co-ordinate the various aspects of the Initiative with staff in Collections Management (Molecular Frozen Collection, Parasitic Worms, Entomology and Mollusca), Facilities (Sequencing Facilities, Imaging) and Research (Divisions of Parasites and Vectors, Genomics and Microbial Diversity, Aquatic Inverts and Terrestrial Inverts). The postholder will work alongside a number of established Researchers and Collections Managers on individual projects, under the general guidance of the Disease Initiative Leader, and closely with Facilities staff in developing an enhanced suite of techniques for diagnosing, monitoring and discovering agents of disease (parasites, pathogens and vectors), relevant to archival, tissue and environmental collections. There may be opportunities for assisting with some fieldwork.

Main tasks and responsibilities

• Develop methodology/protocols for high throughput sequencing of parasites (protists, myxozoans, helminths etc) and vectors from biological and environmental samples, with associated biorepository accessioning. Includes small biological samples (from tissues, blood, faecal, FTA card, archival, FFPE), small environment/host samples (including mixed infections), large-scale environmental (aquatic) samples, and NGS-mediated mitogenomics or appropriate amplicon-based analyses
• Develop methodologies for analysis of complex parasite/vector samples using next-gen sequencing
• Bioinformatics analysis of sequence data
• Contribution to the development of online databases and digital reference collections of parasites, pathogens and vectors relevant to NHM collections and tissue collections
• Liaising with NHM and external partners in securing and processing key disease related material (species, samples) Required skills and qualifications
• PhD in Biological Sciences with a strong molecular component
• First-hand experience with molecular biology related to the generation of sequence data
• Knowledge of bioinformatics related to analysis of next-generation sequence data
• Familiarity with theory and practice of molecular phylogenetics
• Basic knowledge of parasitology
• Ability to work with a diversity of biological samples and to troubleshoot novel procedure
• Track record in publishing peer-reviewed scientific articles
• An understanding of neglected diseases and/or emerging disease

Salary: £27,612 per annum (pensionable)
Fixed term: 36 months
Start: 18 February 2013 or as soon thereafter as practicable
Selection: by interview
Closing date for application: 13/Jan/2013
Further details and application procedure: www.nhm.ac.uk/jobs [navigate to current vacancies ref NHM/RDI/GS]