Postdoctoral Research Associate, The Identification of Carbon Dioxide-Binding Proteins

Durham, United Kingdom
£34,304 - £40,927 per annum
19 Nov 2021
End of advertisement period
06 Dec 2021
Academic Discipline
Life sciences, Biological Sciences
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Department of Biosciences

Grade 7: - £34,304 - £40,927
Fixed Term - Full Time
Contracted Hours per Week: 35
Closing Date: 06-Dec-2021, 7:59:00 AM

When appointing to this role the University must ensure that it meets any applicable immigration requirements, including salary thresholds which are applicable to some visas.

Durham University

Durham University is one of the world's top universities with strengths across the Arts and Humanities, Sciences and Social Sciences. We are home to some of the most talented scholars and researchers from around the world who are tackling global issues and making a difference to people's lives.

The University sits in a beautiful historic city where it shares ownership of a UNESCO World Heritage Site with Durham Cathedral, the greatest Romanesque building in Western Europe. A collegiate University, Durham recruits outstanding students from across the world and offers an unmatched wider student experience.

Less than 3 hours north of London, and an hour and a half south of Edinburgh, County Durham is a region steeped in history and natural beauty. The Durham Dales, including the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, are home to breathtaking scenery and attractions. Durham offers an excellent choice of city, suburban and rural residential locations. The University provides a range of benefits including pension and childcare benefits and the University’s Relocation Manager can assist with potential schooling requirements.

Durham University seeks to promote and maintain an inclusive and supportive environment for work and study that assists all members of our University community to reach their full potential. Diversity brings strength and we welcome applications from across the international, national and regional communities that we work with and serve.

The Department

Biosciences is one of the very best departments in the UK with an outstanding reputation for excellence in teaching, research and employability of our students. Ranked Top 10 for impact in REF2014, the department provides a dynamic and interdisciplinary research environment, with the Cann group located within bespoke laboratories for interdisciplinary work at the biology-chemistry interface. This position is one of two supported by an award from the BBSRC to investigate carbon dioxide-binding proteins in biological systems.

The Role

The identification of carbon dioxide-binding proteins

Carbon dioxide is essential for life. It is at the beginning of every life process as a fundamental substrate of photosynthesis or chemosynthesis and is at the end of every life process as the product of aerobic respiration and post-mortem decay. As such, it is not a surprise that this gas regulates such diverse processes as cellular chemical reactions, transport, maintenance of the cellular environment, behaviour and immunity. Carbon dioxide is a strategically important research target with relevance to crop responses to environmental change, insect-borne disease and public health. However, we know very little of the direct interactions of carbon dioxide with the cell, despite the importance of the gas to biology.

Carbon dioxide mediates the earliest known example of a protein post-translational modification (PTM), identified on haemoglobin in 1928. Carbon dioxide can directly combine with select protein groups to form carbamates. Influential research programmes from the 1920-80's demonstrated that the carbamate PTM regulates oxygen-binding in haemoglobin and activates the carbon dioxide-fixing enzyme Rubisco. George Lorimer proposed carbamate PTMs as a mechanism for regulating biological responses to carbon dioxide in 1983. However, the carbamate PTM is unstable outside the cell and its identification presents significant analytical challenges. Several stable carbamates have been identified in protein molecular structures, but the technical difficulties in their widespread identification has resulted in carbon dioxide-mediated carbamylation being all but forgotten as a PTM. For example, the Wikipedia page for PTM does not mention carbon dioxide-mediated carbamylation (not to be confused with the similarly named modification mediated by isocyanic acid) among 61 identified PTMs.

Direct protein targets for carbon dioxide sensing are almost completely unknown. We have developed technology to systematically identify carbon dioxide-binding proteins. We propose to understand the diversity of carbon dioxide-binding proteins in a mammalian proteome and demonstrate biological relevance. The research programme will provide our first broad insight into direct molecular responses to carbon dioxide and supply tools that will revolutionise our understanding of carbon dioxide biology.

The position offers an exciting opportunity to develop interdisciplinary skills in biosciences and the physical sciences in an entirely new area of biology.

The post is fixed term for 16 months and the successful candidate will be working with Prof Martin Cann (PI; Dept of Biosciences) at Durham University and Dr David Hodgson(CoI; Dept of Chemistry). 


  • To understand and convey material of a specialist or highly technical nature to the team or group of people through presentations and discussions that leads to the presentation of research papers in conferences and publications.
  • To prepare and deliver presentations on research outputs/activities to audiences which may include: research sponsors, academic and non-academic audiences.
  • To publish high quality outputs, including papers for submission to peer reviewed journals and papers for presentation at conferences and workshops under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder.
  • To assist with the development of research objectives and proposals. 
  • To conduct individual and collaborative research projects under the direction of the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder. 
  • To work with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and other colleagues in the research group, as appropriate, to identify areas for research, develop new research methods and extend the research portfolio. 
  • To deal with problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and deadlines by discussing with the Principal Investigator or Grant-holder and offering creative or innovative solutions. 
  • To liaise with research colleagues and make internal and external contacts to develop knowledge and understanding to form relationships for future research collaboration.
  • To plan and manage own research activity, research resources in collaboration with others and contribute to the planning of research projects.
  • To deliver training in research techniques/approaches to peers, visitors and students as appropriate.
  • To be involved in student supervision, as appropriate, and assist with the assessment of the knowledge of students. 
  • To keep accurate records of data and materials produced during the project

This post is fixed term for 16 months, funded by a BBSRC grant for this period only but with the possibility of extension dependant on the success of other grant applications.

Successful applicants will, ideally, be in post by Feb 1st but some flexibility is available.

The post-holder is employed to work on research/a research project which will be led by another colleague. Whilst this means that the post-holder will not be carrying out independent research in his/her own right, the expectation is that they will contribute to the advancement of the project, through the development of their own research ideas/adaptation and development of research protocols.

How to Apply

For informal enquiries please contact Prof Martin Cann [m.j.cann@durham.ac.uk]. All enquiries will be treated in the strictest confidence.

We prefer to receive applications online via the Durham University Vacancies Site. https://www.dur.ac.uk/jobs/. As part of the application process, you should provide details of 3 (preferably academic/research) referees and the details of your current line manager so that we may seek an employment reference.

Applications are particularly welcome from women and black and minority ethnic candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts in the University.

What to Submit

All applicants are asked to submit:

  • A CV and covering letter which details your experience, strengths and potential in the requirements set out above.

Next Steps

The assessment for the post will include a candidate research presentation and a structured interview. Shortlisted candidates will be invited for interview and assessment on a date to be confirmed

The Requirements



  • A good first degree in biological sciences or chemistry.
  • A PhD in molecular bioscience, biochemistry, proteomics or mass spectrometry.


  • Experience in conducting high quality academic research. 
  • Demonstrable ability to write material of a quality commensurate with publication in highly-ranked journals.
  • Demonstrable ability to present research papers at international conferences and communicate complex information to specialists and within the wider academic community.
  • Experience in proteomics or in vitro biochemistry.
  • Experience in mammalian cell culture.
  • Experience in molecular biology.


  • Demonstrable ability to work cooperatively as part of a team, including participating in research meetings.
  • Ability to work independently on own initiative and to strict deadlines.
  • Excellent interpersonal and communication skills. 



  • Strong publication record in peer-reviewed journals, commensurate with stage of career.
  • A track record of presenting research at conferences, symposia, or meetings, commensurate with stage of career.
  • Demonstrable ability to develop research proposals and designs in collaboration with other academics.
  • Experience of overseeing students with respect to the development of their practical/research skills e.g. acting as a demonstrator; supervising student projects/practicals.
  • Experience in carbon dioxide in biological systems 


  • Demonstrable ability to plan and manage independent research.

DBS Requirement: Not Applicable.

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