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Research Assistant/Associate

Requisition ID:  19787

Newcastle, GB

Contract Type:  Fixed Term
Working Pattern:  Full Time
Posted Date:  29-Apr-2022


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.

We understand how important the full employment package is to our colleagues at Newcastle University and we are committed to providing a great range of benefits and discounts for all.  You can learn more about what is available here on our Benefits Website page.

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: £28,756 - £29,614, rising to £30,497 per annum

Research Associate: £31,406 - £33,309, rising to £40,927 per annum


Closing Date: 29 May 2022


The Role

You will be responsible for the culture of adult epithelial stem cells and carrying out gene editing in these cells to generate hypoimmunogenic limbal epithelial stem cells.  A key responsibility will be the molecular characterisation of any cell lines and assessment of their ability to evade detection by the immune system using both in vitro and in vivo assays.


The project:  The cornea is the clear front window of the eye, which functions together with the lens to focus light onto the retina for visual processing, but its outermost epithelial layer is subject to ongoing stress and mechanical abrasion through blinking and environmental exposure and therefore requires constant renewal. This is sustained by limbal stem cells (LSCs), located in the limbal region that marks the transition zone between the clear cornea and the conjunctiva. Although LSCs are capable of lifelong maintenance of the corneal epithelium, they can be destroyed or damaged by chemical or thermal burns or other conditions, including immunological and inherited diseases. This leads to limbal stem cell deficiency (LSCD), characterized by corneal neovascularization, unstable ocular surface, chronic inflammation, stromal scarring, and consequently corneal opacity, leading to blindness.  Our group has demonstrated that transplantation of ex vivo expanded LSC can treat LSCD but this therapy is not cost effective because it is not possible to perform the transplant on any patient other than those from which the LSC are derived.  This project addresses this unmet clinical need by generating a bank of hypoimmunogenic LSC that will function as an “off-the-shelf” source of cells that may be transplanted into any patient suffering from LSCD.


Find out more about the Faculty of Medical Sciences here: 


Find out more about our Research Institutes here:


This post is fixed term for a period of 36 months.


For informal enquiries contact: Professor Lyle Armstrong (


Key Accountabilities
•    Although working under the general guidance of an academic or Principal Investigator, the postholder will contribute ideas, including enhancements to the technical or methodological aspects of their studies, thus providing substantial 'added value' 
•    Develop and carry out the specified project using appropriate techniques and equipment as outlined in the personal requirements 
•    Determine appropriate methodologies for research, with advice and support where required
•    Contribute to grant applications submitted by others and in time develop own research objectives and proposals for funding 
•    Begin to write, with appropriate support, proposals for individual research funding or, where funders do not permit this, contribute to the writing of collective bids
•    Assess research findings for the need/scope for further investigations
•    Contribute to the writing up of their research for publication and dissemination, either through seminar and conference presentations or through publications
•    Present research findings, either at conferences or through publications in reputable outlets appropriate to the discipline
•    May be involved in the supervision, with guidance, of final year undergraduate research projects and in providing support to postgraduate research students or Research Assistants 
•    Will need to work with the support staff and, on occasions, with undergraduate and postgraduate students, and interact intellectually with other academic members of the Institute.
•    May contribute to events celebrating the public engagement of science/social sciences/humanities
•    Develop an awareness of University structures, policies and procedures and relevant issues in the higher education, research, social and political environment

The Person 


Knowledge, Skills and Experience 
•    Ability to work well as part of a team and rapidly acquire new skills
•    Detailed subject knowledge in the area of research 
•    Likelihood of advanced skills directly related to the research projects 
•    High level of analytical and problem-solving capability 
•    Ability to communicate complex information with clarity and to encourage the commitment of others 
•    Experience of research with clear transferable skills and some experience or awareness of the research environment 
•    Presentations at conferences and/or high-quality publications 
•    Transferable research skills between traditional life science disciplines
•    Experience of adult and/or embryonic stem cell culture and differentiation techniques
•    Molecular biology experience, in particular Crispr/Cas9 gene editing
•    Knowledge of cornea (or more generally eye) biology

•    Experience of corneal epithelial stem cell culture and characterisation
•    Experience of cryopreservation
•    Experience of confocal microscopy
•    Experience of immunohistochemistry
•    Experience of flow cytometry

Attributes and Behaviour

•    Demonstrates well developed technical and problem-solving capability in a high quality biomedical research environment.
•    Demonstrates good teamwork skills and high degree of personal sense of drive and responsibility.
•    Possesses good written, oral communication, intellectual and numeracy skills.
•    Ability to prioritise work and to work under guidance collaboratively and independently
•    Good organisation and communication skills

•    Willingness to be flexible about hours of work to fit in with experiments


•    A PhD in the research area required (stem cell repair & regeneration of corneal or retinal tissues would be ideal) for Research Associate level or be close to submission of a PhD for Research Assistant level.


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.

Requisition ID: 19787