Research Assistant, Flexible Bioprocessing Facility

Edinburgh, United Kingdom
11 Jul 2018
End of advertisement period
30 Jul 2018
Contract Type
Fixed Term
Full Time

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

The School of Engineering & Physical Sciences specialises in the established subjects of chemical engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical, electronic and computer engineering, chemistry, physics and Biosciences, and our courses are designed to meet the needs of students and their future employers, offering the highest degree of flexibility and choice within the wide range of topics available. The School enjoys an international reputation for its research and its close connection with the professional and industrial world of science, engineering and technology, reflecting the importance that the University attaches to the quality of its teaching, research and student support.

IBioIC aims to facilitate access to equipment to progress the commercialisation of the Industrial Biotechnology sector in Scotland, the UK and worldwide.  FlexBio provides companies and academics with an industrially applied focus, a fee-for- access service to equipment and technical support. A key offering of the Centre is to provide clients with the option to sub-contract pilot scale fermentation of microbial and mammalian cell cultures up to a scale of 50L, with the option to employ both cell and molecule downstream processing (DSP) techniques.

Detailed Description

An experienced Research Assistant / Scientist is required to support the set-up and execution of industry focused research projects within the Flexible Bioprocessing Facility (FlexBIO) located at Heriot-Watt University. The Facility has been established within the Institute of Biological Chemistry, Biophysics and Bioengineering at HWU (www.ib3.eps.hw.ac.uk), in collaboration with the Industrial Biotechnology Innovation Centre ((IBioIC) www.ibioic.com).

The successful candidate will report directly to the Facility Manager, assist in the day-to-day operational running of FlexBio and implement customer projects as required.  The post holder will be required to provide lab administrative support, design and execute experimental plans, analyse and interpret data, record findings, provide training to existing lab users and technical input into future facility users’ projects.  There will also be an element of business development to the role.

The FlexBio Scientist will work closely with the Facility Manager and the Technical Project Lead to operate FlexBio equipment and conduct laboratory studies as required.  The FlexBio Scientist will engage with customers (academic and industrial), external maintenance companies and with the wider IBioIC team.  The post holder will also assist as required with training of MSc and PhD students, Research Associates and external users of the Facility in lab techniques and procedures.  The Scientist will also need to be a role-model in ensuring compliance with health & safety, as well as recording and documentation relating to GMP processes.

Hours of work - Monday – Friday 9am – 5pm but with flexibility to cover work activities

Key duties and responsibilities

General equipment centre operation

  • Be responsible for planning and performing experiments, providing concise data and reporting on the outcomes.
  • Contribute to the development of research objectives and proposals for industry focused projects.
  • Lead on interpretation of data, whilst consulting with other members of the Equipment Centre project team and with academics.
  • Write up work into reports for dissemination to clients and where appropriate, for additional dissemination (e.g. patents, professional publications or peer review journals).
  • Effectively contribute to multiple projects at any given time.
  • Take an active role with customer visits and engaging with colleagues within the IBioIC to help promote the centre,
  • Prepare for and lead practical training sessions held within the centre,
  • Identify opportunities for generation of intellectual property.
  • Collaborate with colleagues on the development of knowledge exchange activities with IBioIC industry members.
  • Work to drive a culture of continuous improvement within the centre,
  • Engage in continuous professional development.
  • Provide evidence of experience of working under strict confidentiality and understanding of Intellectual Property.

Safety & Compliance

  • Assist the Facility Manager to ensure equipment is operated correctly, calibrated and looked after in accordance with industry best practise.
  • Complete documentation as dictated by Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs). 
  • Take an active role in creating and updating existing SOPs and health and safety documentation. 
  • Ensure all centre users are compliant with relevant health and safety rules and SOPs.
  • Monitor, with the assistance of other Safety officers within the University Department, safety in laboratories within the Centre. 
  • Assist the Facility Manager to maintain a list of all service and maintenance records and reports for laboratory equipment and ensure that maintenance and other checks are carried out appropriately according to the recommended schedule.

Education, qualifications and experience


The successful candidate should:

  • Be educated to degree level in the biotechnology, biochemical engineering or biological sciences
  • Have experience in working within industry or working on industry-led projects
  • Experience working with industry or on industry-led projects
  • Have experience working with cell culture, with specific experience of mammalian cell culturing and extreme competency in sterile     technique being desirable.  Knowledge of microbial culture is also desirable, as is any experience working beyond flask volume scale.
  • Be experienced in documenting results and assisting with report writing. 
  • Be enthusiastic, pro-active and professional, with the ability to be able to work to a highly flexible work schedule


  • MSc
  • Proficiency in a range of laboratory techniques including cell culture (mammalian or bacterial), downstream processing and analytical techniques
  • Familiarity with relevant health and safety legislation and procedures
  • Experience of laboratory administration inc. ordering supplies and equipment, maintaining databases & spreadsheets, costing and recharging of facilities.
  • Experience of interaction with industry in a business development environment
  • Experience of training individual on equipment and techniques
  • Have experience working to GMP and a Quality system
  • Have experience of following and writing standard operating procedures (SOPs).
  • Have experience of working under strict confidentiality and understanding of Intellectual Property (IP).
  • Be able to demonstrate driving continuous improvement within a previous or current work place.

How To Apply

Applications can be submitted up to midnight (UK time) on 3 August 2018

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.