Research Assistant / Laboratory Research Technician

London (Greater) (GB)
£32,676 - £34,442, per annum, including London Weighting Allowance
Wednesday, 3 March 2021
End of advertisement period
Tuesday, 9 March 2021
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Research Assistant / Laboratory Research Technician

Job ID: 016984

Salary: £32,676 - £34,442, per annum, including London Weighting Allowance 

Posted: 23-Feb-2021

Closing date: 09-Mar-2021

Business unit: Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine

Department: Peter Gorer Department of Immunobiology

Contact details: Dr Alexandra Santos; Ms Monica Basting,; 

Guy's Campus   Professional and support services    

Job description
The Santos Lab has been investigating new tests for the diagnosis of food allergy, including the basophil activation test (BAT). There are two MRC-funded studies ongoing in the Santos Lab: the BAT II study and the BAT to clinic study:

  • The BAT II Study is a diagnostic study where children with suspected food allergy are being enrolled and the utility of the BAT, as well as routinely-used allergy tests is being assessed.
  • The BAT to clinic study focuses on peanut allergy and aims to transfer the BAT to the clinical diagnostic laboratory with the view to enable its use in clinical practice.

The symptoms of food allergy result from the release of certain substances by cells of the immune system, called mast cells and basophils, triggered by the interaction between allergy antibodies and food allergens. Food allergy is often diagnosed using skin prick test or by detecting IgE (allergy antibodies) in the blood. However, more common than being food allergic is to have a positive allergy test to that food. In the equivocal cases, an oral food challenge (OFC) is required. OFC consists in giving the patient the suspected food in a controlled environment to see whether the patient develops an allergic reaction. OFC are quite expensive, time-consuming and place the patient at risk of a potentially severe reaction, but this is currently the gold-standard for the diagnosis of FA. Previously, we developed a new blood test called the BAT, which showed 97% accuracy to diagnose peanut allergy and reduced the need for OFC by two thirds. In the current BAT II Study, we will develop similar diagnostic tests for common food allergies, such as cow's milk, egg, sesame and cashew nut allergies. Study participants will undergo OFC and allergy testing which will include taking a sample of blood. In the BAT to clinic study, we are inviting children with suspected peanut allergy to have the BAT as an additional test to the blood tests done for clinical purposes. We anticipate that BAT will lead to a significant improvement of care for allergic patients and will reduce the costs and anxiety associated with OFC.

Purpose of the role:

Working closely with a strong team of clinical and laboratory researchers, the research technician will help deliver on the BAT II Study and the BAT to clinic study and laboratory work related to this and other ongoing research studies.

The post holder will work under the supervision of the Reader & Principal Investigator, in completing the technical aspects of the BAT and other assays, as required for the completion of the BAT II Study, MRC-funded research projects and other ongoing studies.

The research technician will be responsible for planning of daily laboratory activities and for the technical aspects of BAT and related assays.

The research technician will pro-actively liaise with the study team and autonomously resolve issues as they occur.

The research technician will carry out analysis of information, data and or calculations, identifying issues which require addressing. Interpret trends or patterns in the results and present results accurately and appropriately at the lab meetings.

The research technician will work alongside the Reader and Principal Investigator and the research team to deliver project timelines and milestones.

The research technician will demonstrate flair, enthusiasm, innovation when faced with technical challenges and will provide suggestions as to possible solutions.

The research technician will perform other duties appropriate to the grade, as advised by the Reader & Principal Investigator.

The research technician will ensure that high quality systems, procedures and practices are maintained and that service provision is effectively monitored and reviewed.

This is a full-time post, a fixed-term contract for 11 months.

Key responsibilities

  • Liaise with study co-ordinator, research nurses and phlebotomist on a daily basis, to co-ordinate transportation of blood samples from study participants.
  • Handle the biological samples, including immediate laboratory manipulation and storage.
  • Carry out the isolation and cryopreservation of mononuclear cells from the blood collected from the participants recruited into the BAT studies.
  • Freeze separated cells and other blood components in appropriate aliquots.
  • Set and maintain cells in culture, label and assess their viability.
  • Perform the Basophil Activation Test using complex flow cytometry on the same day as blood collection.
  • Analyse cell samples by flow cytometry.
  • Autonomously perform flow cytometry analysis using FACS Diva and FlowJo software.
  • Handle and ship the respective samples in accordance with standard procedures.
  • Maintain a high level of record keeping and data integrity.
  • Be responsible for storage, labelling and keeping record of blood samples and their components.
  • Complete a database for recording relevant study data and to ensure that it is updated and maintained to the highest levels of accuracy throughout.
  • Order reagents and ensure storage in the appropriate conditions and within the expiry date.
  • Meet all King's College Laboratory Health and Safety standard regulations. 

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

  • BSc in immunology, cell biology or a related discipline
  • Experience of Immunology (or related field) laboratory work
  • Expertise in handling blood samples, cell separation, storage and freezing
  • Experience in cell culture and flow cytometry
  • Training in basic laboratory health and safety
  • Good presentation skills both verbal and written
  • Ability to manage competing priorities and workloads
  • Ability to liaise with professionals at all levels and external collaborators
  • Professional attitude and approach at all times and to work effectively under pressure
  • Understanding and ability to comply with the Data Protection Act
  • Diplomatic, tactful and able to work successfully in a team 

Desirable criteria

  • MSc in Immunology, cell biology or a related discipline
  • Understanding of clinical trials' principles and logistics
  • Knowledge of research methodology
  • Committed to continued personal development
  • Previous experience working in a research core facility and with cellular functional assays 

Further information
The selection process will be done quite rapidly as we would like the new team member to start as soon as possible.

This post is subject to Disclosure and Barring Service and Occupational Health clearance. 

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