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Research Assistant/Associate

Requisition ID:  3141

Newcastle, GB

Contract Type:  Fixed Term
Posted Date: 


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.


Salary: £28,331.00 - £32,817.00 

Closing Date: 12 March 2020


The Role


This full time position with Dr Alison Yarnall, Prof Lynn Rochester, Prof John-Paul Taylor and Dr Mark Baker, is suitable for a highly motivated and ambitious individual who wishes to pursue a clinical academic career in gait or dementia research. You will be part of the Brain and Movement Research Group at a world leading clinical gait research centre.


Prevention of immobility and falls in older people is a public health priority. In ageing and age-associated conditions such as Parkinson’s disease (PD), gait disorders and their consequences – most notably falls – are common manifestations. Progressive and specific degeneration of the cholinergic system is implicated broadly in PD, and may underpin discrete gait impairments which are present even at disease diagnosis.


There is recent evidence that augmentation of acetylcholine using cholinesterase inhibitors may improve gait and reduce falls in PD without dementia. However, these drugs are not without side effects. Non-invasive vagus nerve stimulation (nVNS) is used in treatment of epilepsy and migraine and has been shown to activate cholinergic neurons. We have recently shown in a small study (n=30) that single dose nVNS improved a dopa-resistant gait characteristic that is associated with falls risk, and will now assess this in a multi-dose randomised placebo-controlled proof of concept and feasibility study.


The purpose of the role will be in the effective delivery of this study, data analysis and dissemination of findings.


The post is available on a full time, fixed term basis for 3 years.


For informal enquiries regarding the role, please contact Dr Alison Yarnall at alison.yarnall@ncl.ac.uk  


Information about the Brain and Movement Research Group is available here:



Key Accountabilities 

  • Assist in the identification, screening, recruitment and assessment of Parkinson’s disease patients from local movement disorders clinics.
  • Be responsible for clinical assessments of patients, including history taking, assessments and diagnostic confirmation.
  • Be responsible for delivery of the neurophysiological component of the study including transcranial magnetic stimulation and short latency afferent inhibition protocols.
  • Coordinate with other members of the AdVaNSING-PD team (including for example, chief investigator, other co-principal investigators, members of gait team, clinical ageing research unit staff members, associated research assistant/associates) the flow-through of participants in the study.
  • Responsibility for helping maintain necessary governance aspects of the AdVaNSING-PD study, for example, but not limited to: uploading of recruitment data; reports to HRA/ethics; maintenance of site file; logging, curating and storage of all data from the study.
  • Act as central co-ordinator for the study including database preparation and maintenance.
  • In discussion with your supervisors, identify key clinical questions that can be addressed using data derived from the study.  Also some data analysis, interpretation and developing new hypotheses.
  • Help to prepare data for publication in relevant, high impact factor journals.
  • Provide guidance to other staff and students, potentially including supervision of undergraduate research project students.
  • Attend and present your work at laboratory, Biomedical Research Centre and national/international meetings.
  • Be prepared to contribute to events celebrating the public engagement of science/social sciences/humanities.


The Person (Essential)


Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Strong background in clinical studies work including clinical study co-ordination.
  • Database and management skills.
  • Experience of research governance.
  • High levels of organisational ability.
  • Project co-ordination experience, particularly trials/research.
  • Ability to work flexible hours and independently.
  • Willingness to take on additional responsibilities, e.g. the day- to-day supervision of project students.
  • Satisfactory DBS and health clearance.
  • Ability to communicate complex information with clarity, both verbally and in writing.



Attributes and Behaviour

  • Enthusiastic; team player.



  • PhD or equivalent in Neuroscience or related subject required for Research Associate, or Masters and/or PhD near completion for appointment as Research Assistant.




Newcastle University is committed to being a fully inclusive Global University which actively recruits, supports and retains staff 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.


The University holds a silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our good employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.  The University also holds the HR Excellence in Research award for our work to support the career development of our researchers, and is a member of the Euraxess initiative supporting researchers in Europe.


Please be advised that due to the minimum salary thresholds imposed by the UKVI, this post may not qualify for University sponsorship under Tier 2 of the points based system


Requisition ID: 3141