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Research Assistant in Biological Chemistry

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Job Details

  • This position is full time (35 hours per week) and is available immediately for a year.
  • Salary: £26,495 - £30,688 per annum (Grade 5)
  • Cardiff University
  • Closes 15th October 2017
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Research Assistant in Biological Chemistry
Cardiff School of Chemistry
Cardiff University


We seek to recruit an enthusiastic, highly motivated scientist with proven intellectual and technical abilities to work on a Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC)-funded biological chemistry project.

The overall objective of this research project is to characterise the protein electrostatic properties of Dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) via vibrational Stark effect measurements via incorporation of cyanide probes into a protein to reveal subtle electrostatic changes within the protein microenvironment (Stark effect).

Applicants must hold a 2:1 or 1st Class Honours degree (or equivalent) in Biological/Organic Chemistry or Biochemistry especially relative to Synthetic Biology, or equivalent industrial experience.

Further information is available at http://www.cardiff.ac.uk/people/view/38538-allemann-rudolf .

For informal enquiries about the role and the School of Chemistry, please contact Professor Rudolf Allemann (AllemannRK@cardiff.ac.uk; 02920 688443).

For further details about working at Cardiff University, please contact Ms Alison Blake (BlakeAF@cardiff.ac.uk; 02920 874805).

This position is full time (35 hours per week) and is available immediately for a year.

Salary: £26,495 - £30,688 per annum (Grade 5)

Important note: It is the University’s policy to use the person specification as a key tool for short-listing. Candidates should evidence that they meet ALL of the essential criteria as well as, where relevant, the desirable. As part of the application process you will be asked to provide this evidence via a supporting statement. Please ensure that the evidence you are providing corresponds with the numbered criteria outlined below. Your application will be considered based on the information you provide under each element.

When attaching the supporting statement to your application profile, please ensure that you name it with the vacancy reference number, e.g. Supporting Statement for 6503BR.


Please be aware that Cardiff University reserves the right to close this vacancy early should sufficient applications be received.

Cardiff University is committed to supporting and promoting equality and diversity and to creating an inclusive working environment. We believe this can be achieved through attracting, developing, and retaining a diverse range of staff from many different backgrounds who have the ambition to create a University which seeks to fulfil our social, cultural and economic obligation to Cardiff, Wales, and the world. In supporting our employees to achieve a balance between their work and their personal lives, we will also consider proposals for flexible working or job share arrangements.


Job Description

Main Function

To contribute to research in the area of Biological Chemistry, carrying out supporting work that helps lead to the publishing of research in high-quality journals. To pursue excellence in research and to inspire others to do the same.

Main Duties and Responsibilities

Research

  • To undertake research, e.g. by planning, preparing, setting up, conducting and recording the outcome of experiments;
  • Actively participate within the research group, communicating and presenting research at meetings, through publications and other recognised avenues as appropriate, ensuring information is communicated to internal and external partners;
  • To contribute to research publications and presentations as required;
  • To analyse and communicate complex ideas, concepts and data using appropriate methods and packages;
  • To resolve issues and support senior colleagues in devising procedures required to ensure accurate and timely reporting;
  • To generate research output and contribute to the development of independent and original ideas as appropriate;
  • To provide support in research activities for undergraduate courses and research programmes and provide guidance to junior members of staff within the research team;
  • To maintain and update area of specialist knowledge, researching and critically appraising relevant literature within the area.

Other

  • To undergo personal and professional development that is appropriate to and which will enhance performance;
  • To participate in School administration and activities to promote the School and its work to the wider University and the outside world;
  • Any other duties not included above, but consistent with the role.

Person Specification

Essential Criteria

Qualifications and Education

  1. A 2:1 or 1st Class Honours degree (or equivalent) in Biological/Organic Chemistry or Biochemistry especially relative to Synthetic Biology, or equivalent industrial experience

Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  1. Experience of research and/or relevant industrial experience of the following:
  • Experience of overexpression and purification of proteins
  • Cloning and assembly techniques for the construction of molecular plasmid libraries
  • Protein structure characterisation techniques
  • Enzyme activity techniques (especially Stopped-flow)
  • Study of enzyme reactions using FTIR isotope-editing techniques
  1. Knowledge of research methods and techniques within Synthetic Biology/Biological Chemistry with particular focus on Dihydrofolate reductase
  2. Proven ability to analyse complex information and summarise appropriately
  3. Proven ability to be successful in competitive research funding

Communication and Team Working

  1. Proven communication skills, including presentation to various audiences
  2. Excellent organisational and team-working skills

Other

  1. Proven ability to demonstrate creativity, innovation and teamworking within work


Desirable Criteria

  1. PhD in Biological Chemistry
  2. Relevant professional qualification(s)
  3. Evidence of collaborations with industry
  4. Proven ability to work without close supervision
  5. Proven ability to adapt to the changing requirements of the Higher Education community
  6. A willingness to take responsibility for academically related administration
  7. Fluency in Welsh, written and oral

Additional Information

Project Description

This project aims to investigate the nature of protein electrostatics in Dihydrofolate reductase (DHFR) catalysis. The underlying role of protein electrostatics in enzyme catalysis needs to be deciphered in order to build a precise model for DHFR catalysis. We hypothesise that enzymes need to sample an electrostatically preorganised configuration to find the best configuration for the reaction to occur. Accordingly, both protein dynamics and electrostatics need to be characterised. Here we will characterise the protein electrostatic properties of DHFR via vibrational Stark effect measurements. Incorporating a cyanide probe into a protein reveals a unique infrared (IR) signal, the changes of which caused by amino acid replacement and/or ligand binding can reveal subtle electrostatic changes within a protein microenvironment, hence vibration Stark effect. Natural aromatic residues in the active site will be replaced by commercially available unnatural amino acid such as cyanylated phenylalanine using the aminoacyl transfer ribonucleic acid (tRNA) synthetase variant made available in our laboratory from previous work. Ligand binding will lead to a strong different in the measured vibration Stark effects, The IR spectroscopic measurement will be combined with site-directed mutagenesis studies to investigate the roles of catalytically important residue in catalysis. To confirm our experimental results, vibrational Stark effects will also be performed computationally with collaborators.

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