Research Associate for the South London Genetics of African Ancestry Population study

London (Greater) (GB)
£38,826 to £45,649 including London Weighting Allowance
25 Nov 2021
End of advertisement period
16 Dec 2021
Job Type
Research Related
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

Job description

This is an exciting position that will play a vital role in supporting research and will be supported to lead research in the most understudied population in the UK: Black ethnic backgrounds are consistently under-represented in mental health research. Despite rapid advancements in medicine, these communities risk being left behind as findings are translated into treatment and policy (Dikilitas et al. 2020). Despite a number of research initiatives to promote Black participation in the US, this drive is yet to happen in a similar multicultural society such as the UK.   


Our study will focus on common mental health disorders and conditions commonly found in and disproportionately affecting those from the Black communities in the UK: Sickle Cell disease, diabetes/hypertension, and adverse pregnancy and childbirth outcomes. We will design valid risk prediction algorithms for African ancestry that use polygenic scores and environmental risk factors specific to the UK. This work will help provide a deeper understanding of disorder and disease mechanisms in this community as well as a re-contactable database of Black volunteers for further ground-breaking research. 


The Role:

We seek to recruit a study coordinator for the South London Genetics of African Ancestry Project (SLGAP) that aims to recruit a cohort of >5000 individuals of African ancestry. This project is being carried out by King’s College London, the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre, and King’s Health Partners, in collaboration with the NIHR BioResource and Genomics England. The role is potentially extendible for two further years, dependent on funding renewal. 


The successful candidate will need to lead and engage with initiates to establish and build relationships with Black communities in South London. We seek to hire a candidate who has strong links with the local community and will be work with, collaboratively to implement initiatives to build trust with and facilitate engagement with research in underrepresented Black and racial and ethnic minority groups in South London. 


The post-holder will develop and conduct Patient and Public Involvement & Engagement sessions with relevant communities to discuss the design, implementation and dissemination of the research. Due to the sensitive nature of these community sessions, we will require the chosen candidate to possess good interpersonal communication skills, to handle these conversations with professionalism and care. We plan for these sessions to take place in person, however we can host these remotely should we again need to work from home. 


The post-holder will supervise junior staff and assist in the submission of ethics applications, including protocols and amendments, hosting meetings and presentations to update on the project progress. It will be the post-holder’s overall duty to lead on day-day aspects of this project, and to facilitate its success. 


Our Environment and Group.

The NIHR Mental Health BioResource team strives to be a diverse research environment that is open, welcoming and supportive to all. The faculty-wide initiatives are supported by an active Diversity & Inclusion Team. To help us achieve our goals, we particularly welcome applications from people from backgrounds who are currently under-represented in UK Higher Education (E.g. Black, Asian, Latinx, and other white ethnic minorities). 


Our PIs and team are welcoming and friendly, and able to provide most of the training and skills needed for academia. There are various levels of support from junior staff members, to senior ones. We host weekly coffee breaks while working remotely, and senior staff take the wellbeing of individuals seriously. The Bioresource department is committed to diversity and inclusion. You can read our statement here, which will also apply to this project: 


We host regular meetings to discuss issues of EDI, and implement policy and new ways of thinking into our team, research and education. Members of our research groups are part of our centre’s Anti-Racism working group that drives the centres stance and ethos towards being anti-racist.  


The post will be based in the Biomedical Research Centre’s (BRC) BioResource for Mental Health Theme , at the Social Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, and will report to Professor Gerome Breen and Dr Juliana Onwumere. The successful post-holder will have the opportunity to work alongside world leading academic researchers in a range of areas across King’s Health Partner hospitals.  


The successful candidate will be a member of a team that includes wet lab postdocs, a genomics core, database developers, systems administrators, and postdoctoral bioinformatics researchers, PhD students, and a specialised team for the collection of participant data.  


The candidate will be involved in the whole research process from the beginning, including planning, decision making, data collection, data cleaning, analysis, until the end resulting in distribution of results in written form as well as oral presentations.  


In our team, we value the open science approach by pre-registering our projects on the Open Science Framework and documenting our research process transparently using GitHub. 


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

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


Key responsibilities

Key objectives

Liaise with the wider research team, stakeholders and collaborators to successfully launch and maintain this project. 

• Create materials and documentation necessary for the pre-launch, launch and recruitment of this project (including creating and being responsible for ethics applications). 

• Hosting PPI sessions and focus-groups (both in-person and online). 

• Creating or assisting to create organic social media content for the project. 

• Responding to researcher and participant enquiries. 

• Be prepared to learn new skills related to this time-sensitive project. 

• Work collaboratively to meet the deadlines of the current project 

• Attend meetings relevant to the project and wider Bioresource team. 

• Work with and support wider Bioresource projects where necessary, particularly across similar themes. 

• Support the overall aims of the Bioresource by assisting with kit packing, receiving and sending of sample tubes, updating databases,  

• Be prepared to work for longer hours on occasion and to facilitate weekend working if needed. 

• Demonstrate excellent communication skills via email, phone and in person (including being efficient and responsive to emails / internal communications). 

• Any other duties appropriate to the grade as directed by the supervisors.

The above list of responsibilities may not be exhaustive, and the post holder will be required toundertake such tasks and responsibilities as may reasonably be expected within the scope and grading of the post.

Skills, knowledge and experience

Essential Criteria:

1.      PhD or equivalent qualifications in a relevant field. MSc/BSc applications will be considered if relevant coordination/project management experience is present.

2.      Have lived experience and/or an interest in Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.

3.      Excellent organisational, communication, interpersonal and administrative skills

4.      Excellent time-management skills with ability to work to deadlines

5.      Fluent in written and spoken English

6.      Ability to follow research guidelines and protocols

7.      A willingness to learn new skills and be flexible with set tasks.


 Desirable Criteria:

1.      Prior research experience of collecting data on a research study, preferably in a relevant subject area

2.      Knowledge and experience of relevant documentation and legislation e.g. ethical approvals and Data Protection legislation.

3.      Experience with Zoom and / or Microsoft Teams or an equivalent.

4.      Links to relevant charities and organisations

5.      Fluency in additional languages

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