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Research Assistant / Research Associate - Neuroscience

Requisition ID:  24938

Newcastle, GB

Contract Type:  Fixed Term
Working Pattern:  Full Time
Posted Date:  13-Jan-2023

We are a world class research-intensive university. We deliver teaching and learning of the highest quality. We play a leading role in economic, social and cultural development of the North East of England. Attracting and retaining high-calibre people is fundamental to our continued success.


What’s in it for you? Newcastle University is a great place to work, with excellent benefits. We have a generous holiday package; plus the opportunity to buy more, great pension schemes and a number of health and wellbeing initiatives to support you.


Newcastle is an inclusive global University community where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.  As a University of Sanctuary, we aim to provide a welcoming place of safety for all, offering opportunities to people fleeing violence and persecution.


Newcastle University is committed to being a fully inclusive Global University which actively recruits, supports and retains colleagues from all sectors of society.  We value diversity as well as celebrate, support and thrive on the contributions of all our employees and the communities they represent.  We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and encourage applications from everybody, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, age, disability, gender identity, marital status/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, as well as being open to flexible working practices.



Research Assistant : £29,619 to £31,411 per annum

Research Associate : £32,348 to £35,333 per annum


Closing Date: 12 March 2023


The Role


We are seeking an experienced and enthusiastic PhD staff student (Research Assistant ) or postdoctoral Research Associate to work on an NHMRC-funded project to study the "Neuropharmacology of decision-making: causal brain network modelling across species." 


Decision-making deficits are a prominent feature of a number of clinical disorders, including attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), schizophrenia, depression  and Parkinson’s disease (PD). Although decision neuroscience has made great strides in identifying neural metrics of decision-making that are comparable across species and time scales, critical knowledge gaps remain. These gaps include an incomplete understanding of: (i) how different brain regions communicate with one another to support decision-making processes and (ii) how neurochemicals modulate these decision-making communications. In this grant, we investigate the neurochemical modulation of decision-making in both humans and macaques, whereby you will be using the non-human primate model. 


Your task will be to investigate the neurobiology of decision-making across 3 spatiotemporal scales: the micro-scale (single units); the meso-scale (LFPs; EEG); and the macro-scale (fMRI).  Jointly with collaborators, you will use computational approaches to understand causal (directed) interactions between brain regions central to decision making across these scales macaques. To understand the underlying neuropharmacology, you will perturb the system using, methylphenidate, atomoxetine and ketamine, and study their impact on neural metrics of decision-making.


You will assist in animal training, sterile surgeries, and perform daily electrophysiological recordings of neural activity during trained task performance. 


You will then analyse data, and produce drafts of publications as well as give presentations on the findings to international conferences. 


You will have a very high level of academic achievement, and proven scientific ability in systems neuroscience research. An ability to work within a team is critical, as is a strong commitment to Reduction, Replacement and Refinement (3Rs) and animal welfare. 


This is a full time role, fixed term until 31 October 2026
For informal enquiries, please contact Professor Alexander Thiele 
Find out more about the Faculty of Medical Sciences here.
Find out more about our Research Institutes here.

Key Accountabilities
•    Contribution to the research programme of the School/Institute under the clear guidance of a member of an academic staff or Principal Investigator
•    Co-ordinate own work with that of others, deal with problems which may affect the achievement of research objectives and contribute to the planning of the project(s)
•    Present information on research progress and outcomes to a Principal Investigator or groups overseeing the research project
•    Work to deadlines and manage, with support, competing priorities
•    Ensure that personal knowledge in relevant fields of study is kept up to date
•    Use research resources (including, where required, laboratories, workshops and specialist equipment) as appropriate
•    Maintain academic standards and freedom, and work in accordance with university policies (e.g. equal opportunities, health and safety policies)
•    Possible supervision and demonstration duties within undergraduate laboratories and example classes or in teaching small seminar classes
•    Undertake relevant training and development activities to develop capacity for taking on wider responsibilities
•    Develop, with advice, an awareness of own professional development needs and a personal development strategy

The Person


Knowledge, Skills and Experience (Essential)

•    An excellent record of academic achievement (in line with level of seniority)
•    A high level of subject knowledge in the neural basis of decision making
•    Excellent analytical  (quantitative/mathematical) skills, including ability to program analysis scripts in the Matlab and/or Python environment
•    Ability to communicate complex information clearly, both orally and through the written word
•    The ability to work collaboratively with colleagues
•    The ability to use personal initiative and creativity to solve research problems


Knowledge, Skills and Experience (Desirable)

•    Possess a Home Office personal licence to work with non-human primates (or have held such a licence recently, such that it could be reinstated)
•    Experience of working with non-human primates in neuroscience research
•    Experience of electrophysiological recording in awake task performing animals, including from cortex, and subcortical areas.
•    Strong analytical skills, including ability to program analysis scripts in the Matlab environment
•    Publication record in the in the area of decision making
•    Ability to communicate complex information clearly, both orally and through the written word
•    The ability to work collaboratively with colleagues
•    The ability to use personal initiative and creativity to solve research problems

Attributes and Behaviour (Essential)

•    Collegiate
•    Open minded
•    Conscientious with meticulous attention to detail

Qualifications (Essential)

•    Good honours degree (or equivalent) in Neuroscience, Computing, Engineering, Physics or Maths
•    For appointment at Associate level, a PhD in systems neuroscience




The University holds a silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our good employment practices for the advancement of gender equality. The University is also a member of the Euraxess initiative supporting researchers in Europe.


Requisition ID: 24938