Post-Doctoral Research Associate in Comprehensive Cancer Centre

London (Greater) (GB)
£38,304 - £ 45,026, including London Weighting Allowance
Jul 15, 2021
End of advertisement period
Sep 01, 2021
Contract Type
Full Time

Job description

We are seeking a highly motivated and talented postdoctoral researcher to join Dr. Simon Poland’s advanced microscopy development group at the Comprehensive Cancer Centre at King’s College London. The overall goal of this research project is to develop novel imaging strategies which will enable the complete interrogation of tumour derived spheroid models. The successful candidate will design and develop advanced light sheet microscopy instrumentation to acquire aberration-free images and functional information of large 3D cell culture models non-invasively, at high-speed and at high resolution. They will collaborate with several cancer research scientists at King’s, where this technology will then be exploited to image tumour spheroid cultures and investigate several key interactions between cancer cells, other constituent cells and the extracellular matrix in the tumour microenvironment.

The successful applicant must have attained a PhD degree (or close to completion) in Physics, Engineering, or related subject and must have extensive prior experience in both optical design and microscopy development. Previous knowledge and experience in the development of bespoke microscopy platforms (i.e. fluorescence light-sheet, confocal and multi-photon) are essential for this position. The candidate will be required to utilise high powered femtosecond laser sources, integrate diffractive optical elements for beam-shaping and adaptive optic correction, assist in the design of bespoke optics and incorporate state-of-the-art detector technologies into existing microscope platforms.  

The appointee will be expected to work in an interdisciplinary team at the life sciences interface, co-ordinating with biological collaborators and providing leadership to junior researchers. They will be responsible for the delivery of internationally competitive research with emphasis placed on highly motivated, team-oriented, creative individuals able to independently tackle original scientific projects. 

The applicant should have hands-on experience in biological cell and tissue imaging and individuals with previous experience in either adaptive optics development or fluorescence lifetime imaging are encouraged to apply. Additional experience in programming (Python, Matlab, C++) and image data analysis is also desirable. Excellent communication skills are essential, and you should be keen to develop project/team leadership skills, and to establish bridges between the physical and life sciences. There may also be additional opportunities to engage in a range of complementary projects active in Dr. Poland’s group, to further explore and grow your own research interests and portfolio. 

This post will be offered on a fixed-term contract for up to 3 years 

This is a full-time post - 100% full time equivalent

Key responsibilities

  • Design and construction of advanced optical imaging platforms for 3D Cell culture imaging
  • To work with others in the broader research environment to facilitate in the functional imaging of Spheroid and organoid 3D tissue models
  • Develop data analysis methods appropriate for 3D imaging
  • To write publications for appropriate scientific journals and to present research findings at scientific meetings
  • Support and nurture staff to independence to achieve their potential whilst further developing your leadership skills
  • Participate in project meetings, including symposia and workshops.
  • Collaborate with physicists and biologists at KCL
  • Write up results of your own research
  • Liaise with internal and external research colleagues and support staff on research matters
  • Make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding and form relationships for future collaboration
  • Communicate material of a specialist or highly technical nature
  • Plan own research and co-ordinate work with that of others to avoid conflict or duplication of effort
  • Make use of novel and innovative research techniques and methods
  • Deal with problems which may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines
  • Contribute to collaborative decisions making affecting the work of the team
  • Actively participate as a member of the Comprehensive Cancer Centre
  • Collaborate with academic colleagues on areas of shared research interest
  • Attend and contribute to relevant meetings
  • To demonstrate a willingness to develop personal objectives via regular appraisals with an academic mentor

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 

1.       BSc in Physics, Engineering or related subject

2.       Ph.D. in Optics, Physics, Engineering or related subject (either completed or submitted)

3.       Highly skilled in both optical and mechanical design

4.      Knowledge and experience in the construction of bespoke optical microscopy platforms (i.e. fluorescence light-sheet, confocal and multi-photon)

5.       Flexible and collaborative

6.      Willingness to learn new skills

7.       Hands-on experience in biological cell and tissue imaging

8.      Ability to work independently and as part of a team

9.      Commitment to high quality research

10.   Ability to prioritise work

11.    Communication with researchers in other fields


Desirable criteria 

1.      Programming and computational analysis

2.      Experience in adaptive optics development and Fluorescence lifetime imaging

3.      Good presentation skills

4.      Experience in cell preparation and cell culture

5.      Tenacity to conduct a project

*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.

Further information

Recognised as one of the leading cancer research centres in Europe, the Comprehensive cancer centre where this fellowship will be based has a multidisciplinary research portfolio which spans the entire patient cancer journey. By fostering a culture of innovation in cancer patient care through research excellence, we aim to break down traditional clinical and academic boundaries and draw together members of the Division and our associated major NHS partners to achieve a fully integrated cancer research pathway. This is reflected in the coordinated strategic planning that provides the foundations for our KHP Cancer Centre.  

The Centre's core strengths are in cancer genomics, haemato-oncology, breast cancer biology, epidemiology, cancer cell biology and gastro-intestinal cancer. It plays host to a number of specialist research centres; including a Breakthrough Breast Cancer Research Unit, Comprehensive Cancer Imaging Centre, Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre and the NIHR Biomedical Research Centre. Together with the resources of our Bio-Banks, the fluid interaction between the various departments provides us with substantial capabilities for the delivery of translational research activity that serves to define future pathways for the treatment of cancer. 

We are focused on recruiting and supporting the highest calibre staff and promote equality of opportunity by ensuring that current and prospective members of staff are treated solely on the basis of merit, ability, and potential without any discrimination. We promote a positive working, learning, and social environment free from prejudice, harassment, or bullying. We are actively involved in the Athena SWAN initiative, a charter which recognises excellence in an institution's commitment to gender equality in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicine (STEMM) subjects, and we obtained an Athena SWAN Bronze award in 2015 in recognition of our activities. More information about the charter can be found here: We expect all members of staff to engage with and apply the principles of Athena SWAN.