Research Associate in Imaging Biology
King’s College London with its 200 years of heritage is recognized today as a world-leading research university, ranked 7th in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. We understand the need to turn original thinking into everyday application, encouraging curiosity to develop work that makes an impact on society and global issues. Great names from King’s are continuing to change the world.
We have an exciting position for a qualified Research Associate to undertake a ground-breaking preclinical, British Heart Foundation-funded, research in the School of Biomedical Engineering at St Thomas' Hospital (STH). The project will run in collaboration with the Molecular Imaging Center in Torino, the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney, the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne Australia and the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III (CNIC) in Madrid.
The research aims to detect high-risk coronary atherosclerotic plaques by identifying dysfunctional elastin synthesis and/or breakdown, first in mouse and pig models of atherosclerosis and later in patients with coronary artery disease. The project will utilize and further develop, in collaboration with chemists, a recently developed tropoelastin-specific MRI probe; utilize advanced MRI protocols and ex vivo molecular biology and analytical techniques to investigate whether: (i) Molecular MRI of tropoelastin can distinguish between high-risk and stable atherosclerotic plaque both in mouse and swine models; and (ii) whether the tropoelastin specific probe allows differentiation between high-risk and stable plaque in patients with coronary artery disease and (iii) decipher the biological role of dysfunctional elastogenesis in the development of high-risk atherosclerotic plaque. This study will answer the clinically important question whether MRI can selectively identify high-risk coronary plaque and guide treatment aimed at reducing the risk of myocardial infarction in a precision medicine approach.
Located in the heart of London, King’s is the hub of a global network of strong academic connections and collaboration, with prestigious international partnerships within and across disciplines – scientific and medical, social and creative. King’s is investing in the highest calibre of talent to drive the university forward to achieve its greatest potential. The very best from the United Kingdom and across the globe are invited to join King’s. We are looking for a strong commitment to teaching and research, to push the boundaries of knowledge, influence the future and create a lasting impact.
This is Full-time - 35 hours per week, fixed term for 3 years.
The post is suitable for chemists, biochemists and biomedical scientists, with interest in synthesizing and charactering molecular imaging probes suitable for both MRI and PET molecular imaging of atherosclerosis wishing to obtain research training towards an academic or research career. You will have varied responsibilities including imaging probe design, synthesis, purification, labelling and physicochemical characterisation of the probes, and assisting in the MRI and PET scanning of animals. You will also be responsible for managing the data, maintaining complete and accurate study files and be expected to present the results in various formats to different audiences and writing manuscripts. You may also have the opportunity to be involved in other preclinical imaging studies of vascular disease including heart failure and deep vein thrombosis to examine the merits of novel MRI contrast agents and protocols.
The successful applicant will be closely supervised by Prof René Botnar and Dr Alkystis Phinikaridou at the School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Sciences and will also be collaborating with our partner institutions.
Key responsibilities and objectives of the job:
• Design and synthesis of novel small molecular weight imaging agents.
• Synthesis of peptide and bioconjugation of the peptide with DOTA chelators, including multimeric assemblies.
• Performing lanthanide chemistry to chelate the lanthanides (gadolinium, europium) to DOTA-like chelators followed by HPLC purification of the probes for use in animals.
• Radiolabeling of imaging probes with 68Ga using DOTA or AAZTA peptides followed by HPLC purification for use in animals and human.
• Physicochemical characterisation of the probes using proton-NMRD experiments.
• Analytical chemistry techniques HPLC, Mass-spec,1 H-NMRD for probe synthesis and characterisation.
• Ex vivo biological and chemical analyses of tissues; and statistical analyses; MRI scanning of animals; analysis of MRI data; and assisting with probe development.
• Managing the data, maintaining complete and accurate study files and be expected to present the results in various formats to different audiences and writing manuscripts.
• Achieve the above objectives in a coordinated way by effective teamwork and collaboration with colleagues.
• Contribute to / support the work of the research team.
• Attend and, as appropriate, present research findings and papers at internal and external academic meetings, seminars and conferences and to contribute to the internal and external visibility of the Department.
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
1. PhD or MSc awarded in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biomedical Sciences, Pharmacology or similar near completion
2. Experience with imaging probe design and synthesis (small molecular probes)
3. Experience with lanthanide chemistry and coordination chemistry as applied to MRI and radiolabeled probes
4. Experience with peptide synthesis and bioconjugation techniques
5. Experience in analytical chemistry techniques HPLC, Mass-spec,1 H-NMRD for probe synthesis and characterisation.
6. Presenting scientific research in the form of papers, posters and oral presentations
7. Working as part of a multidisciplinary research team, relying on and supporting others effectively
8. Use of computers/software, database and research literature searching
9. Excellent verbal and written communication skills
1. Experience with binding assays (e.g DELFIA) and ICP-MS for determining lanthanide concentrations.
2. Experience in Magnetic Resonance Imaging
3. Experience in Positron Emission Tomography
This post is subject to Disclosure and Barring Service and Occupational Health clearance.