Research Associate in NanoSafety, BIORIMA

Edinburgh, United Kingdom
16 Sep 2019
End of advertisement period
01 Oct 2019
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Part Time


Closing date 1 Oct 2019 23:00 (UK time)
Salary £32,817–£40,322 (Grade 7)
Location Edinburgh
Department School of Engineering & Physical Sciences
Category Research
Status Part Time
Duration 15 months fixed-term

About Heriot-Watt University

Heriot-Watt University has five campuses: three in the UK (Edinburgh, Scottish Borders and Orkney), one in Dubai and one in Malaysia. The University offers a highly distinctive range of degree programmes in the specialist areas of science, engineering, design, business and languages.

With a history dating back to 1821, Heriot-Watt University has established a reputation for world-class teaching and practical, leading-edge research, which has made it one of the top UK universities for business and industry. We connect with industry at every level and develop programmes to match their needs – so employers get work-ready industry-fit graduates.

Heriot-Watt is also Scotland's most international university, boasting the largest international student cohort.

We have an established set of values that help us to nurture innovation and leadership, and show our commitment to continuous improvement and development in all our activities.

For full details on our University please view our Careers at Heriot-Watt http://www.hw.ac.uk/about/careers-at-heriot-watt.htm

About our Team

Prof Vicki Stone, Prof Teresa Fernandes, Dr Helinor Johnston and Dr David Brown work in the Nano Safety Research Group at Heriot-Watt University, assessing the toxicity of engineered nanomaterials, particles and environmental pollution, both to human health and to the environment.

For studies investigating the human health effects of nanomaterials, the NanoSafety Group is interested in exposure via inhalation, ingestion, injection or dermal application. Assessment of toxicity occurs both at the site of exposure (lung, gastrointestinal tract or skin) and at distal target sites such as the liver and immune system. For studies focussing on environmental compartments, our groups assess the fate and effects of nanomaterials on aquatic environments and microbial systems. We work with different organisms from freshwater and marine systems, including sediments. We use standard models such as algae, the water flea, mussels and fish, and study the way they interact with nanomaterials and the effect that may result from those interactions. Our work includes a strong focus on the use and development of alternatives to animal testing for hazard assessment of nanomaterials, and the use of such models within Intelligent Testing Strategies for hazard assessment or grouping of nanomaterials. The in vitro models (cell models) employed span the different exposure and target sites outlined above, and are backed up by in vivo experiments as required. In addition, we have a strong interest in using our hazard models and knowledge to inform the safer design of nanomaterials and nanomedicines. As a group, we are uniquely place to integrate and combine studies focussed on human health and the environment.

We are looking for a highly motivated PDRA to use existing medical, toxicology and exposure literature, combined with new data (from project partners) in order to design and generate Integrated Approaches to Testing and Assessment (IATAs; previously known as Intelligent Testing Strategies) to facilitate risk assessment of nanomedicines for the European project BIORIMA (https://www.biorima.eu/). The focus of this work will require integration of human studies with environmental studies. We are looking for a PDRA who is keen to interact and collaborate internationally as the project involves over 40 institutions across Europe, USA and Asia. The PDRA will work closely with colleagues developing IATAs for the European project GRACIOUS (https://www.h2020gracious.eu/).

The research is funded by a European Commission Horizon 2020 grant BIORIMA.

Detailed Description

The successful candidate will be taking a leading role in the European Project BIORIMA. BIORIMA is a 7 Million Euro project with over 40 partners. The goal of BIORIMA is to generate protocols and strategies for the risk assessment of nanomedicines.

Nanomaterials (materials with at least one dimension between 1 and 100nm) often exhibit novel properties compared to larger forms of the same material. Such properties have led to increased use of NMs into a diverse array of products (e.g. pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, textiles, food, electronics). In fact, nanomaterials are available in a wide variety of physico-chemical properties such as size (and surface area), morphology, charge, and surface coating, all of which can influence their properties, their potential use as nanomedicines (drug delivery and/or disease diagnosis), but also their toxicity. While much work has been conducted to risk assess nanomaterials, relatively little in comparison has been conducted or developed for nanomedicines.

The PDRA will focus on developing an intelligent testing strategy for the risk assessment of nanomedicines.

Key duties and responsibilities

The post holder is required to:

  • Compare, contrast and rank the relative usefulness of a range of protocols for assessing the hazard of nanomaterials/nanomedicines.
  • Design IATAs that allow nanomedicine risk assessment according to their hazard potential, dose and route of exposure, but also to other key attributes (e.g. physicochemical characteristics).
  • Be able to integrate work on human nanomaterial risk assessment with environmental nanomaterial risk assessment.
  • Analyse and interpret the results of research and generate original ideas based on outcomes.
  • Write research reports and peer-reviewed scientific publications.
  • Present research findings at seminars at Heriot-Watt University, and national and international conferences.
  • Work well as part of a team.
  • Have good communication skills (oral and written).

Education, qualifications and experience

Essential Criteria

  • BSc (at least 2:1) and PhD degrees a relevant subject area, e.g. toxicology, pharmacology, cell biology, biomedical sciences, biochemistry.
  • Ability to perform literature searches and write literature reviews (including a critical appraisal of the literature)
  • Experience of designing experiments, problem solving, performing data analysis and interpretation and conducting appropriate statistical analyses
  • Ability to formulate and progress work on their own initiative and to work independently
  • Theoretical understanding of the experimental techniques relevant to the project
  • Experience of protocol development and optimisation
  • Ability to articulate research findings, both in writing (e.g. reports, publications) and by oral presentation (e.g. seminars, conferences)
  • Evidence of ability to work as part of a team
  • Experience of working with Microsoft Office
  • Use of specialised software for data analysis (e.g. GraphPad Prism, Minitab, SPSS)

Desirable Criteria

Experience of developing or using Intelligent Testing Strategies or IATA.

How To Apply

Applications can be submitted up to midnight (UK time) on 1 October 2019.

This role does not meet the minimum requirements set by UKVI to enable sponsorship of migrant workers. Therefore we cannot progress applications from candidates who require sponsorship to work in the UK. For further information on this please visit the UK Visas and Immigration website: https://www.gov.uk/browse/visas-immigration/work-visas

At Heriot-Watt University we understand that being diverse makes us better which is why we support a culture of respect and equal opportunity, and value diversity at the heart of what we do. We want to increase the diversity of our workplace to underpin a dynamic and creative environment.

Use our total rewards calculator: https://www.hw.ac.uk/about/work/total-rewards-calculator.htm to see the value of benefits provided by Heriot-Watt University.