Specialist Senior Technician (BSU)
The newly formed Centre for Cell and Gene Therapy (CCGT) is seeking to appoint a specialist research technician to work within its leading translational eye research group, in its animal facility.
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 which focusses on the development of novel therapies for retinal disorders, with a major emphasis on translating research into clinical application. 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. The programme has already led to first-in-human clinical trials of gene and cell therapy for eye disease. Over the next 5 years, we will be continuing the pre-clinical development and work up for clinical trials for photoreceptor cell therapy.
The post-holder will support the Principal Investigators and research staff in the smooth running of the Centre’s animal facility and will maintain oversight of the maintenance, care and welfare of animals. The post-holder will be responsible for compliance with Home Office regulations and the Animals (Scientific Procedures) Act 1986, including oversight of the breeding colonies and liaising with the Centre’s academic and research staff, as well as the Biological Services Unit manager and staff, to ensure that animal lines and facilities are appropriately maintained.
They will perform and assist with experimental animal procedures including surgical procedures, imaging, electrophysiology and a variety of predominantly non-invasive assessments of visual function and will be required to train others in these techniques. They will also undertake, in collaboration with other team members, a wide range of in vivo and in vitro techniques to assist in the development of cell transplantation and gene therapy in experimental models of disease. The work may also include the production of gene therapy vectors and the culture of stem cells. The post-holder will be expected to contribute to the general departmental duties and may be asked to participate in other projects within the group.
This post will be offered for the period of 18 months, in the first instance.
This is a full-time post - 100% full time equivalent
The post holder is a member of the School’s professional services team, providing high quality specialist technical support to the School and specific support to its education/ research activities. Working closely with their line manager(s) and lead academic, the post holder will:
- Provide recognised specialist technical expertise gained through experience and/or formal qualifications to run a specialist technical service, using complex procedures that require considerable skill
- Have a solid understanding of the underlying technical/scientific theory and associated regulations for the specialist area, keeping informed about developments in the field
- Liaise with service users to understand their requirements and priorities, supporting service users throughout the project life cycle, including advice on project design and planning to limit waste and to set achievable timelines and accurate costs
- Collaborate with teams across the School/ Faculty/ university, forming a strong network across the university and with external users/suppliers
- Be responsible for the delivery and day-to-day management and security of the specialist technical facilities and activities, including compliance with regulations governing the service, monitoring safe working practice, completing risk assessments and adapting the working environment to reduce the level of hazard
- Manage/ supervise the installation, monitoring and maintenance of equipment, systems and software, stocks/stores equipment and supplies
- Communicate, both orally and in writing, complex information in a clear and precise fashion, synthesising and presenting complex information in a clear and precise manner
- Use well-developed analytical skills to identify trends and patterns, to problem-solve and inform timely and considered decisions that have an impact of up to a year and occasionally being required to resolve predictable, longer term problems
- Manage own workload, pattern of work and resources, and – where appropriate - manage/supervise a small team. Oversee the work of those working in the animal facility to ensure that Home Office regulations are being adhered to, advising and providing feedback, identifying training /development needs and keeping meticulous training records
- Be responsive to changing priorities and an evolving environment/context, maximising the efficiency of the technical support
- Provide advice/ guidance and, where appropriate, training to colleagues on specialist techniques, regulations and university policies/ processes
- Facilitate an inclusive culture and ethos working in partnership with academic, research and other professional services staff and colleagues external to King’s
- Participate in cross-School/ Faculty/ university projects and initiatives for up to 10% FTE
- Engage actively in Continuing Professional Development and training initiatives, in line with the Technician Commitment and Research Concordat for a minimum of 10 days pro rata per year
- The post holder will report to Principal Research Associate & Professor of Developmental Neuroscience
The detail on tasks and responsibilities of the post will be provided in the job work plan, which will form the basis of the discussion during the post holder’s probationary review and subsequent PDR discussion.
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
- Minimum level 4 qualification, e.g. higher apprenticeship, HNC or other Level 4 award, plus work experience in a relevant technical/scientific post OR Considerable knowledge and skills gained through work experience in a relevant technical or scientific post
- Experience of working in a Biological Services Unit with laboratory animals, using regulated procedures, including good knowledge of breeding techniques, anaesthesia, euthanasia, removal of body fluids, genotyping, etc.
- Have extensive relevant technical experience and in-depth knowledge of specialist technical or scientific practices, methods and procedures applicable to the work area, underpinned by a good understanding of relevant technical/scientific theory – in particular experience in molecular biology and histological techniques.
- Evidence of the ability to maintain accurate records and to analyse and manage quantitative and qualitative data
- Evidence of an active commitment to career development including professional registration, such as RSci, or working towards CSci. Holds, or be ready to apply for, a Home Office license with Home Office modules A-C
- Full working knowledge of regulations governing area of work, in particular a good understanding of relevant Home Office legislation and experience of preparing legally-required documents
- Solutions-focused self-starter, with excellent planning and organisational skills, an ability to manage competing priorities and who can work with minimal supervision
- Good communication, orally and in writing, along with strong interpersonal and influencing/behavioural skills.
- Good computer skills including Microsoft Office packages and ability to learn and utilise specialist computer systems
- Experience of training and teaching individuals in methodologies and techniques
- Proactive and responsive to internal contacts in immediate area and across King’s and contacts outside the university (e.g. suppliers, colleagues in other HE institutions) in order to build relationships
- A commitment to an excellent student experience and concern for staff and student wellbeing, along with a commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion
- Ability to supervise/advise junior team members and give feedback on performance levels
- Experience of visual system biology and/or tests of visual function
- Able and willing to provide support beyond core hours, as required