Research Technician

Requisition ID:  26913
Location: 

Newcastle, GB

Contract Type:  Fixed Term
Working Pattern:  Full Time
Posted Date:  3 Apr 2024

 

Salary:  £25,742 to £26,444 with progression to £27,979 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: 17 April 2024

 

 

The Role

 

You will be responsible for differentiation of pluripotent stem cells to retinal organoids, enrichment of photoreceptors for subretinal transplantation by flow cytometry, organizing animal breeding and assisting the postdoctoral research assistants with immunofluorescence and FISH analyses of transplanted eyes. You will work as part of a team comprised of two postdoctoral research associates on this MRC funded project focusing on the assessment of engraftment of hESC-derived photoreceptors and their ability to restore vision in early and advanced stages of Retinitis Pigmentosa.

 

Retinitis pigmentosa (RP) is a common form of hereditary photoreceptor dystrophy associated with progressive rod degeneration of the mid-peripheral retina, leading to night blindness and loss of visual acuity. At later stages of the disease, cones degenerate as well, resulting in complete blindness at final disease stages. The supporting retinal pigment epithelium cell layer (RPE), which is essential for normal retina function is also altered at the end stages of disease due to photoreceptor death. Therefore, there is a pressing need to develop novel approaches either for photoreceptor replacement alone or in combination with RPE cells or for reactivation of dysfunctional surviving photoreceptor by gene therapy (if performed at early stages of the disease).

 

In our group, we develop artificial retinas (organoids) and RPE cells from human pluripotent stem cells (hPSCs). We isolate photoreceptors from these organoids and inject them in retinas with photoreceptor dystrophies, with the goal to achieve integration of these healthy photoreceptors into the host retina, eventually restoring visual function. We have successfully achieved these goals using a cone-enriched population of photoreceptor precursors in a mouse model of RP, resulting in partial restoration of visual function assessed by behavioural and electrophysiological testing. However, given the prevalence of rod degeneration in RP, our hypothesis for this project is that transplantation of hPSCs-derived rods at early stages may lead to improved rod integration and function, while also protecting cones from degenerating at later stages. On the other hand, we suggest that a combination of rod, cone and RPE transplantation may achieve optimal results at more advanced stages of retinal degeneration.

 

You will work under the direction of all three investigators on a full time, fixed term basis from 1 June 2024 for 18 months. 

 

Please note that if you are successful to this role, you will require medical clearance before you can commence in the role.

 

For informal enquiries contact: Professor Majlinda Lako 

 

Find out more about the Faculty of Medical Sciences here: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/medical-sciences/ 

 

Find out more about our Research Institutes here: https://www.ncl.ac.uk/medical-sciences/research/institutes/
 

Key Accountabilities

  • Culture of pluripotent stem cells
  • Differentiate pluripotent stem cells to retinal organoids
  • Photoreceptor enrichment by flow cytometry activated cell sorting
  • Immunofluorescence and FISH analyses of explanted retinas
  • Complete a range of routine and complex maintenance activities and repairs
  • Liaise with suppliers and manufacturers to resolve both routine and complex problems and investigate replacement options
  • Advise on equipment capabilities demonstrating how results can be achieved
  • Design and delivery of bespoke equipment and apparatus
  • By developing local procedures, establish and maintain a safe/compliant working environment
  • Hold specific safety responsibilities relevant to the specialism
  • Assist with the completion and updating of a wide range of safety paperwork
  • Oversee compliance tasks ensuring timely completion and maintenance of appropriate records
  • Maintain in-depth and up-to-date health and safety knowledge relevant to the specialism
  • Schedule, prioritize and monitor work in line with demands and deadlines
  • Organize and facilitate progress meetings
  • Source and negotiate with suppliers for a range of items including specialist parts/equipment
  • Create, update and implement procedures to deliver an aligned, efficient and effective service
  • Prepare and manufacture specimens/samples requiring specialist skills with limited direction
  • Manage equipment bookings, calculate charges/costs and assist with re-charging
  • Contribute to building work affecting the area occupied by the specialism
  • Design, develop and deliver inductions, demonstrations and training covering complex techniques and specialist equipment
  • Assist managers with the identification of training and development needs
  • Maintain specialist knowledge and skills, sharing with others
  • Mentor junior staff

 

The Person 

 

Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Ability to generate, culture and characterise pluripotent stem cells
  • Ability to differentiate pluripotent stem cells to retinal lineages
  • Demonstrable work experience in a relevant technical / workshop role
  • Thorough working knowledge of Health and Safety procedures
  • Excellent team working skills
  • Demonstrates technical and problem-solving capacity

Desirable

  • Demonstrates good organising ability to meet deadlines, with a positive and proactive approach to duties and diligence and attention to detail 
  • Contribute to design and specification of research/teaching activities 
  • Ability to adapt to changes in laboratory research priorities 
  • Specific lab or workshop and specific to role 

 

Attributes and Behaviour

  • Tact, diplomacy and able to handle difficult situations
  • Ability to meet deadlines with effective time and resource management
  • Clear communicator and active listener
  • Consistent and appropriate approach to staff and situations
  • Use of feedback for process improvement and staff development
  • Team player, self starter and able to manage complex workload
  • Ability to respond enthusiastically and positively to undergraduate students

 

Qualifications

  • BSc and/or MSc in cell biology or neurosciences; demonstrating development through progressively more demanding relevant roles


 

 

Newcastle University is a global University 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 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 of our employees and the communities they represent.  We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and encourage applications from individuals who can complement our existing teams, we believe that success is built on having teams whose backgrounds and experiences reflect the diversity of our university and student population.

 

At Newcastle University we hold a silver Athena Swan award in recognition of our good employment practices for the advancement of gender equality.  We also hold a Race Equality Charter Bronze award in recognition of our work towards tackling race inequality in higher education REC.  We are a Disability Confident employer and will offer an interview to disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for the role as part of the offer and interview scheme.

 

In addition, we are a member of the Euraxess initiative supporting researchers in Europe. 

Requisition ID: 26913