Post-Doctoral Research Associate in Surface Science & Electrochemistry:
21-Month EPSRC Funded Position
Deadline: 5th October
We seek a post-doctoral research associate (PDRA) with expertise in electrochemistry, surface chemistry and materials fabrication to join the School of Physical Sciences at the University of Kent. The position is part of a major cross-disciplinary project led by Dr. Rob Barker at Kent, bringing together expertise from five other institutions.
The project, entitled “Optimising Me Manufacturing Systems” (OMMS) is funded through a prestigious 30-month research grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). OMMS aims to develop a healthcare micro-factory that provides on-the-body manufacturing of therapeutics, continuously and in response to the body’s needs. The initial proof-of-concept focuses on the development of a manufacturing system for T-cell immunotherapies.
T-cell delivery was chosen specifically because of its demonstrable therapeutic capability. In September 2017, they became the first gene therapy to have been approved by the US FDA. From the clinical data presented thus far it appears these genetically modified T-cells present a cure for some of the most aggressive forms of cancer. However, the current manufacture of T-cells is undertaken in a laboratory and can take up to 21 days. The long, complex and expensive process poses the risk of contamination and further complications due to patient variations. The development, therefore, of a continuous manufacturing capability will address some of these shortcomings and would allow the continuous manufacture and delivery of the therapy to the patient. Moving therapeutic manufacturing away from the current one-size-fits-all approach could enable advances which deliver patient-specific therapies of sufficient precision and quality for personalised medicine.
GOALS OF THE POSITION
Within the OMMS project, this 21-month PDRA position, will concentrate on the surface science and electrochemical manipulation of T-cells separated from whole blood. This falls under two clear goals:
Exploring the usage of electroporation to insert target material into T-cells.
Understanding controlling interactions with T-cells through intelligent surface chemistry design and material properties. Particularly conducting materials that could be integrated into catheters and microfluidic devices.
The deliverables from this project will directly feed in to the work of other PDRAs and students working in our group as well as project partners who are developing the bio-sensors and electronic components of the manufacturing system.
The key responsibilities of the position will be to:
Undertake research at an internationally competitive level.
Contribute to the development of the research project, specifically:
Exploring bio-electrochemical approaches to biological manufacture.
Designing materials and surface-chemistry approaches to control biological interactions.
Seeking innovative ways of integrating electrochemical processes into microfluidic devices.
Testing of potential approaches.
Disseminate research results to the project team, as well as through peer-reviewed publications and conference presentations.
Lead by Dr. Rob Barker at the University of Kent, there are 5 project partners. These are the Universities of Cambridge, Bath & the University of the West of England, Imperial College London (ICL) and University College London (UCL).
WHO ARE WE LOOKING FOR?
Previous experience of electrochemistry is essential, preferably with some understanding of how electrochemistry could be applied to biological systems. Some expertise in surface chemistry, materials characterisation and surface functionalisation is desirable. Further, an understanding of integration of electrochemical devices into microfluidic devices would be desirable, although not essential.
A PhD in Chemistry, Engineering, Physics/Bio-physics or related subjects as well as a high degree of organisation and ability to plan complex experimental studies are essential. Given the broad cross-disciplinary nature of the project, it’s expected that the PDRA would spend time embedded at other partners in the project and working closely with the researchers at these institutes. Therefore, excellent communication skills and the ability to work with other disciplines are also essential. If you would like to discuss the position informally, please send us an email and we'd be excited to discuss the project further with you.
HOW MUCH WILL YOU BE PAID?
Grade 7: £34,189 - £39,609 per annum.
Significant additional funding is available for travel expenses.
WHEN WILL YOU START?
Candidates in the final stages of completing their PhDs are encouraged to apply, if they can provide a reference attesting that their PhD viva will be held by the end of January 2019, or shortly thereafter.
HOW TO APPLY?
Apply through the University of Kent website. Here.