Research Assistant in Retinal Cellular Therapy

London (Greater)
£33,114 per annum including London weighting allowance
Oct 21, 2021
End of advertisement period
Nov 10, 2021
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Job description

The newly formed Centre for Cell and Gene Therapy (CCGT) is seeking to appoint an outstanding, skilled and ambitious Research Assistant to contribute to a programme of basic and translational research focussed on the development of clinical stem cell-based therapies for the treatment of blindness.  

This is an exciting opportunity to work at the interface of basic and clinical research in a group that is at the forefront of developing novel therapies for retinal disorders, with a major emphasis on translating research into clinical application. The Centre for Cell and Gene Therapy builds on a considerable body of research and large multidisciplinary research programme, led by Professors Robin Ali and Rachael Pearson (previously at UCL’s Institute of Ophthalmology). It is one of the largest cellular and gene therapy groups in the country and is currently expanding. Over the past 20 years, the group has been optimising cell transplantation and gene transfer to the eye with a comprehensive programme of work to develop novel therapeutic approaches for eye disease and in particular for disorders affecting the retina, including inherited retinal degeneration (Pearson et al., Nature, 2012, Gonzalez-Cordero et al., Stem Cell Reports, 2017; Ribeiro, Procyk et al., Cell Reports, 2021). The programme has already led to first-in-human clinical trials of gene and cell therapy for eye disease and the successful applicant will play a key role in pre-clinical development work for future trials for cell therapy.  

The post-holder will support the Principal Investigators and work on the pre-clinical optimisation of photoreceptor transplantation. We seek an individual with demonstrable cellular and molecular biology laboratory skills and experience and expertise in sample and tissue handling, cryopreservation, immunohistochemistry, and quantitative PCR. Experience in cell culture and associated aseptic procedures is required and excellent attention to detail and meticulous record keeping is essential. Experience in human stem cell cultures would be an advantage. There is opportunity to perform &/or assist with experimental animal procedures including transplantation surgical procedures, imaging, electrophysiology and a variety of predominantly non-invasive assessments of visual function. The post holder will work in a collaborative team environment with very high potential to learn new skills. Relevant experience is required but full training will be provided.  


This post will be offered on a fixed-term contract for 2 years 

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


Key responsibilities

  • Plan and execute relevant experimental and analytic work in conjunction with the group leader, collaborators and other senior researchers in the group and be able to recognise when input from senior colleagues and managers is required.
  • Perform cell culture experiments and contribute to routine maintenance and differentiation of human pluripotent stem cells, using best practice.
  • Perform basic molecular biology experiments e.g. PCR, RT-PCR.
  • Perform cell biology experiments e.g. cell dissociation, preparation of samples for flow cytometry & cell viability assays
  • Perform histology techniques e.g. tissue embedding, sectioning, immunohistochemistry, confocal imaging.
  • Provide basic lab support and contribute to relevant tasks for optimal operation of the laboratory.
  • Maintain meticulous written records of laboratory procedures and data and present findings at lab meetings.
  • Contribute to general group management and technical support; actively participate in research team activities including contributing to team decisions, assisting in the supervision of student projects and facilitating the training of new staff.
  • Work both independently and within a team environment, with an emphasis on achieving the over-arching objectives of the research programme
  • Communicate complex information in a clear and precise way, both orally and in writing.
  • Have excellent organisational skills and be details-oriented.
  • Plan projects with senior researchers and act independently to take forward assigned projects.
  • Display a willingness and ability to learn, test and implement new methodologies including troubleshooting and training colleagues.
  • Use well-developed analytical skills to identify trends and patterns, using appropriate techniques and procedures to inform decisions
  • Take a role in maintaining a safe work environment and comply with local safety, health and sustainability guidelines.
  • Demonstrate leadership and innovation in the implementation of environmentally sustainable practices, recording progress through the King’s sustainability audit process and sharing good practice. Nurture and encourage sustainable practices and leadership within your team and networks.
  • Facilitate an inclusive culture and ethos working in partnership with academic, research and other professional services staff and colleagues external to King’s
  • The post holder will report to Professor of Developmental Neuroscience & Research Associate
  • 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

Knowledge of and experience in:

  • Mammalian cell culture (experience of working with human stem cells would be an advantage), and standard cellular and molecular techniques.
  • Tissue collection and processing for immunohistochemistry and biochemistry
  • Microscopy, specifically using confocal imaging

Essential criteria

  1. Undergraduate degree (BSc) in Molecular and Cell Biology, Bioengineering or other related area (candidates nearing completion of their undergraduate studies will be considered, if the degree is expected to be awarded within the next 3 months).
  2. Strong interest in translational research and of the relevant field, demonstrated by reading the literature
  3. Competence in cell culture techniques and ability to adhere to strict protocols. Experience of working with long term, and antibiotic-free stem cell cultures specifically would be an advantage.
  4. Competence in molecular biological techniques including DNA/RNA extraction, PCR, etc
  5. Experience in immunohistochemical techniques, including tissue embedding, sectioning, immunocytochemistry and immunohistochemistry
  6. Ability to plan  and analyse experiments, prioritise work efficiently and work to deadlines
  7. Ability to work on own initiative, prioritise and organise competing workloads
  8. Ability to work both as a team member and independently
  9. Ability to work flexibly, understanding that research priorities can change and may require changes to experimental plans
  10. Evidence of commitment to high quality research
  11. Able and willing to provide support beyond core hours, as required.

Desirable criteria

  1. Experience in human stem cell cultures
  2. Experience of flow cytometry
  3. Experience in cell sorting techniques (FACS/MACS)
  4. Experience of GMP

 This post is subject to Occupational Health clearance.

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