Senior Laboratory Research Scientist - RNA Virus Replication Laboratory
This is a full-time, permanent position on Crick terms and conditions of employment.
This position is for a permanent Senior Laboratory Research Scientist (SLRS) to join the RNA Virus Replication Laboratory led by David Bauer. Suitable candidates will have a strong background in virology, with significant experience prior to taking up the post. The postholder will join an exciting, fast-paced, and friendly laboratory (3 PhDs, 2 postdocs, 2 SLRSes) that seeks to understand how RNA viruses such as influenza A and SARS-CoV-2 replicate in order to understand how they work and to find better ways of treating diseases such as influenza and COVID-19. The SLRS will be expected to pursue independent research in addition to general tasks in organising the laboratory infrastructure – and to work with other members to the group to train and assist in laboratory activities, including virology, reverse genetics, molecular and cell biology, and RNA work in the laboratory. More broadly, the postholder will liase with other group members and Crick STPs to facilitate mouse experiments, cell culture, and high containment work. Above all, candidates must be committed to maintaining a positive, motivating, and supportive atmosphere among our diverse group of scientists.
Viruses are infectious parasites that can cause disease. Viruses cannot grow on their own — they must infect a 'host' cell in order to reproduce, and often cause disease in the process. All forms of life, from bacteria and fungi to plants and animals, are infected by at least one type of virus.
RNA viruses store their genome as RNA, instead of DNA. They cause a wide range of diseases in humans, from the common cold to more severe illnesses such as gastroenteritis, influenza, Ebola virus disease, measles and COVID-19.
The use of RNA (instead of DNA) by these viruses gives them unique properties. First, they all have a gene for an enzyme to copy the RNA genome, called an 'RNA-directed RNA polymerase' in the case of riboviruses. This enzyme is not found outside of these viruses, which makes it an attractive target for antiviral drugs. Second, unlike DNA, RNA can adopt specific shapes that allow the genome itself to carry out structural and enzymatic functions directly, even though it is not a protein or an enzyme in a conventional sense. All RNA viruses exploit this unique property of RNA in one way or another. At the same time, hosts (including humans) have evolved protein sensors to detect unique features of viral RNA in order to activate the immune system and fight RNA virus infections.
In order to better understand how RNA affects RNA virus replication, our laboratory borrows tools from biochemistry, molecular biology, virology, genomics, and bioinformatics. We also use these tools to design new types of antiviral drugs that can be used to block RNA virus growth, which is especially useful against new or emerging viruses for which conventional drugs or vaccines may not be available.
We also work on conventional virology research, focused on how SARS-CoV-2 continues to evolve and how this relates to virus function and its consequences for human health. We are part of the UK Genotype-to-Phenotype (G2P-UK) national virology consortium, charged with understanding how new and emerging COVID variants cause disease. We also collaborate with the LEGACY study, established by University College London Hospitals and the Francis Crick Institute, to track serological responses to vaccination during the national COVID-19 vaccination programme (Wall, Wu et al., Lancet, 2021; Wall, Wu, Harvey et al., Lancet, 2021).
These include but are not limited to:
- Ongoing support within the group with standard operating procedures (SOPs) for common virology-related experiments, reverse genetics, cell-culture and related experiments, high-throughput sequencing assays, and equipment use
- Adoption of some ongoing projects in lab, working with the group leader and group members to formulate and implement experimental to track serological responses to vaccination during the national COVID-19 vaccination programme plans and, discussing and presenting results with group and collaborators
- Assistance with maintenance of the Bauer lab infrastructure in collaboration with other members of the group and the relevant quadrant manager (i.e. equipment, workspace, procurement etc.)
- Management of lab, instruments and supplies on a daily basis
- Training new lab members in SOPs
- Encouragement of a positive, motivating, and supportive lab atmosphere
Key experience and competencies
The post holder should embody and demonstrate our core Crick values: bold, imaginative, open, dynamic and collegial, in addition to the following:
Qualifications, experience and competencies:
- Higher education degree in virology, or related fields
- Significant experience in virology, working with respiratory influenza viruses and coronaviruses
- Experience of working in a high containment laboratory setting carrying out virus culture and characterisation (e.g. plaque assay, focus-forming assay)
- Experience in virus reverse genetics / rescue and associated cloning
- Experience with conventional molecular biology techniques (cloning, gel electrophoresis, western blotting, etc.)
- Strong multitasking ability, capability to handle highly dynamic projects, and openness to learning new techniques.
- Strong skills in organising and thorough record-keeping
- Strong collaborative ability and teamwork experience
- Track record of encouraging a positive, motivating, and supportive lab atmosphere
Qualifications, experience and competencies:
- Motivation to perform cutting-edge science using various tools to understand different aspects of RNA virus function.
- Experience with serology and immunology assays for respiratory virus infections
- Willingness to learn details of high-throughput assays for RNA structure and function
- Experience with small animal models of viral infections
- Experience with small animal work/management, including colony maintenance, setting up breeding pairs, genotyping, liaising with BRF