Senior / Laboratory Research Scientist – Synthetic Biology for COVID
Report to: Viral Vector Service manager - Molly Strom
This is a full-time, fixed term (3 year) position on Crick terms and conditions of employment.
We are looking for a Senior Laboratory Research Scientist (SLRS) for the Viral Vector Service unit at the Francis Crick Institute, working to generate synthetic viral genome assemblies to respond to emerging SARS-CoV-2 Variants of Concern.
The post holder will work to implement existing protocols for viral genome assembly using yeast, and work with research groups and the Viral Vector Service and to develop and implement novel strategies cloning and assembly of these challenging, large, AT-rich constructs that will accelerate project delivery. The post holder will work to generate assemblies to enable the research carried out at the Crick in diverse areas of virology, immunology, and public health – and collaborate with exciting, dynamic teams within the Crick on production and application of these assembled genomes.
Genome assembly protocols include synthetic fragment assembly into BAC/YAC shuttle vectors by TAR/HDR in yeast (Kouprina and Larionov, Nat Protocols, 2008; Thao et al., Nature, 2020; Erdmann et al., bioRxiv, 2022), Golden Gate assembly, linear phage cloning (Donaldson et al., J Virol, 2008), as well as in vitro ligation, followed by in vitro transcription by T7 RNA polymerase (Xie et al., Nat Protocols, 2021). The post holder will work with these methods, and will also develop further Improvements using novel synthetic biology assembly techniques.
Genome assemblies generated by the Viral Vector Service unit will be used in a range of exciting applications with direct and immediate application to virology and public health. These include determining ongoing vaccine effectiveness against emerging SARS-CoV-2 variants (Wall et al., Lancet, 2021), understanding viral evolution (Mears et al., bioRxiv, 2022), evaluating antiviral drugs for clinically vulnerable patients (Wu et al., Lancet, 2022), development of novel vaccination strategies (Ng et al., Science Trans Med, 2022), and understanding the origin of coronavirus symptoms (Townsley et al., medRxiv, 2022) and pathogenesis (Hall et al., PLoS Pathogens, 2022).
The successful candidate will:
- Produce synthetic viral genome assemblies using existing protocols
- Develop new synthetic biology strategies to improve and accelerate genome assembly that will be shared with the wider community
- Apply quality benchmarks to ensure high quality and titre of resulting virus preparations together with Crick Science and Technology Platforms (e.g. Advanced Sequencing, electron microscopy, COVID Surveillance Unit, and the Worldwide Influenza Centre / WHO Collaborating Centre)
- Collaborate with Crick scientists to develop, apply their technology to immediate applications.
Key experience and competencies
The post holder should embody and demonstrate our core Crick values: bold, open and collegial, in addition to the following:
- Track record of developing and applying new techniques to solve biological problems
- Experience in complex molecular cloning and handling of preparing large and unstable and difficult plasmids
- Higher education degree (BSc, MSc, or PhD) or equivalent experience with relevant experience in molecular cloning, viral production techniques, molecular biology or a related field
- Excellent work ethic and ability to work to deadlines
- Strong organisational and record-keeping skills
- Ability to work collaboratively and independently
- Experience with cloning in yeast
- Experience with large gene assembly techniques
- Experience with viral production and purification
- Experience with mammalian tissue culture work