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Research Assistant/Associate

Requisition ID:  25179

Newcastle, GB

Contract Type:  Fixed Term
Working Pattern:  Full Time
Posted Date:  09-Mar-2023



Research Assistant £30,619 to £32,411 per annum

Research Associate £33,348 to £36,333 per annum


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.


Closing Date: 07 April 2023



The Role

You will work as part of a team of researchers from the Universities of York, Cambridge, Nottingham and Newcastle to study how bacteria protect the integrity of their membrane through the use of a conserved class of stress-induced proteins (IM30 proteins, such as PspA or LiaH), brought together by a BBSRC-funded research programme. Your role in this consortium will be to investigate the functional diversity of these proteins in vivo, using the Gram+ model organism Bacillus subtilis and the human opportunistic pathogen Enterococcus faecalis as your primary study species. Your particular focus will be how IM30 proteins can impact on antimicrobial resistance, specifically through protection of membrane structure and function, as well as of key membrane-integral processes like cell wall synthesis and respiration. A solid background in Gram+ bacterial physiology and genetic manipulation, ideally including experience with enterococci, would position you strongly to address these questions.   


You will join the group of Henrik Strahl at the Centre of Bacterial Cell Biology, a vibrant research centre within the Biosciences Institute of Newcastle University focused on the molecular and cellular biology of bacteria. You will work closely with Susanne Gebhard at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz, Germany, who will provide expertise in enterococcal biology and antimicrobial resistance. Working in the interdisciplinary and international research team across the wider consortium will give you an outstanding experience in collaborative research and crossing of disciplinary boundaries and provide you with cutting-edge skills training.  You will have a genuine passion for working with experts from other disciplines and have the communication skills to facilitate such work. Prior experience in research collaborations would be an advantage. 


The Research Project:
The ability to maintain a membrane barrier between the cytoplasm and the extracellular environment, while allowing selective passage of nutrients and waste products, is essential for all life. Since cells actively maintain ion gradients across the membranes that are critical for important cellular functions including ATP synthesis and active transport, membranes must be carefully maintained in an ion-tight state. Hence, mechanisms that protect and repair membranes have evolved to safeguard their integrity. Proteins forming a phylogenetically ancient and widespread family (IM30) composed of bacterial PspA/LiaH proteins and cyanobacterial and plant VIPP1, are key components allowing bacteria to protect their membranes from conditions compromising the permeability barrier. Thus, they play an important role in conditions ranging from production of biofuels to resistance of pathogens towards membrane-targeting antibiotics. Whilst the stress-induced regulation of gene expression is well understood in some bacteria, and their propensity to form oligomeric rings in vitro is known, how these proteins protect membranes still remains a mystery. In this collaborative and multidisciplinary research programme, we combine methods ranging from microbial physiology and cell biology, biophysics, biochemistry, proteomics, and antibiotics research to decipher the mechanism how these important proteins protect the integrity of membranes. This knowledge will help us understand mechanisms of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) as well as routes to engineer microbes to produce compounds that are normally toxic to themselves.


This post is fixed term for a period of 4 years. 


For informal enquiries contact: Doctor Henrik Strahl


Find out more about the Faculty of Medical Sciences here.


Find out more about our Research Institutes here.


As part of our commitment to career development for research colleagues, the University has developed 3 levels of research role profiles.  These profiles set out firstly the generic competences and responsibilities expected of role holders at each level and secondly the general qualifications and experiences needed for entry at a particular level.


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
•    Work closely collaboratively within your own research group, and with external collaboration partners

The Person (Essential)


Knowledge, Skills and Experience 

•    Ability to work well as part of a team and rapidly acquire new skills
•    Detailed subject knowledge (PI to describe subject knowledge required) 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 
•    A publication record that matches the career stage 
•    Excellent team-working skills
•    Experience in working with bacterial study organisms as a research focus
•    Experience in bacterial molecular biology (molecular cloning, plasmid and strain construction) or microbial physiology
•    Expertise in antimicrobial mode of action or antibiotic-induced stress responses
•    Expertise in Gram-positive bacterial cell envelope biogenesis and function
•    Expertise in membrane biology
•    Experience in working with E. faecalis and/or B. subtilis  
•    Experience in genetic manipulation of E. faecalis and/or B. subtilis
•    Experience in collaborative research, including across disciplines 

Attributes and Behaviour
•    Excellent interpersonal skills
•    Excellent team-working skills
•    Excellent oral and written communication skills
•    Well organised, with ability to work on several parallel research lines 

•    PhD in bacteriology, microbiology, biochemistry, molecular biology, or a comparable field for Research Associate
•    close to submission/completion of PhD for Research Assistant 



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.


We are 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.


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: 25179