Research Associate in Basic and Clinical Neuroscience

London (Greater) (GB)
Grade 6, £38,304 – 42,652, including London Weighting Allowance
Thursday, 18 February 2021
End of advertisement period
Thursday, 4 March 2021
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Job description

This is a fixed-term post for a research associate with a PhD in a biomedical science, natural science and/or neuroscience-related area.  The role represents an exciting opportunity to work within a multi-disciplinary team linking clinical neuroscience with paediatric movement disorders in a programme of research aiming to transform understanding of childhood dystonia.   The position is funded for 6 months full-time.

The successful applicant will support the current study “Sensory System Abnormalities in Childhood Dystonia” which is funded by the Medical Research Council and the Rosetrees Trust  (PI Dr. Verity McClelland).  The study links the world-renowned academic Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology and Neuroscience at KCL with the Evelina Children's Hospital Complex Motor Disorders Service (St Thomas' Hospital), a cutting edge clinical service offering Deep Brain Stimulation (DBS) for children with refractory movement disorders.

The study uses neurophysiological techniques to investigate sensorimotor processing and its relationship to dystonia and aims to a) transform understanding of underlying mechanisms in children with dystonia and dystonic cerebral palsy; b) Identify potential biomarkers of dystonia which may help predict outcome from DBS and thus guide selection of patients for neurosurgery or other therapies; c) Identify potential biomarkers that could be used in individualising treatment parameters.

The study involves performing EEG and EMG recordings in children with dystonia of different aetiologies (both with and without DBS) and in healthy controls.  The study investigates 1) changes in EEG, EMG and EEG:EMG coupling during sensorimotor tasks of the upper limb; 2) evoked cortical activity from the Deep Brain stimulator within the Globus pallidus internus (GPi); 3) pallidal neuronal activity recorded from the GPi with micro-electrodes at the time of DBS surgery; 4) routine clinical neurophysiological tests of sensory and motor pathway integrity and their relationship to DBS outcome.

A key role of this post will be to perform EEG-based dynamic connectivity analyses on data acquired in the above study.  The post-holder will apply established methods (including a customised Matlab toolbox) and will also be required to apply exploratory and statistical analyses using scientific programming (eg with Matlab, Python, R, Julia) to quantify differences and similarities between patient groups and to fully exploit the rich information within these unique EEG data-sets.  Knowledge of BASH programming is desirable.

The post-holder will also have the opportunity to assist with the development of new research protocols using brain-computer interface technology, to investigate the potential clinical application of these devices for therapy/rehabilitation in this patient group.

The post-holder will work under the guidance of Dr Verity McClelland and Dr Dimitris Sakellariou, and in collaboration with the Complex Movement Disorders Team at Evelina Children's Hospital.  The post will be co-located at Denmark Hill and St Thomas' Hospital.

This post will be offered on an a fixed-term contract for 6 months
This is a full-time post


Key responsibilities

• Perform EEG-based connectivity analyses: undertake exploratory analyses and develop data analysis pipelines.
• Explore thresholding methods, formulate hypotheses and perform appropriate statistical analyses
• Data visualisation
• Assist in collection of pilot data using brain computer interface technology with real-time feedback of EEG data in healthy volunteers and patients

The above list of responsibilities may not be exhaustive, and the post holder will be required to undertake such tasks and responsibilities as may reasonably be expected within the scope and grading of the post. 

Skills, knowledge, and experience Essential criteria

•  Relevant degree or equivalent qualification (mathematics, physics, computer science, statistics, neuroscience)
•  PhD with research experience in a relevant subject
•  Excellent verbal and written communication skills
•  Excellent organizational skills
•  Skilled in coding using Matlab, Python, R, Julia  or equivalent
•  Experience in analysis of neurophysiological data
•  Skilled in statistical analysis and hypothesis testing
•  Ability to work independently and use own initiative
•  Excellent time-management skills
•  Excellent team-working skills

Desirable criteria

•  Knowledge of data confidentiality and data protection act
•  Ability to create and maintain basic websites
•  Skills in database building and maintenance

*Please note that this is a PhD level role but candidates who have submitted their thesis and are awaiting award of their PhDs will be considered. In these circumstances the appointment will be made at Grade 5, spine point 30 with the title of Research Assistant. Upon confirmation of the award of the PhD, the job title will become Research Associate and the salary will increase to Grade 6

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