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Postdoctoral Associate- Protein Innovation against Cancer


A creative postdoctoral researcher with experimental or computational expertise is sought to work in Mark Howarth's group on a project funded by MRC at Cambridge University Department of Pharmacology. The Howarth group have broad interests, including synthetic biology, biotechnology and entrepreneurship (www.howarthgroup.org). The project relates to engineering a protein superglue to enhance cell therapy of cancer. SpyTag is a genetically-encoded peptide created by the Howarth lab, which forms an irreversible covalent bond to its protein partner SpyCatcher. SpyTag provides a unique resource for molecular assembly and has been applied by >1,000 groups around the world for basic research and biotech, as well as reaching clinical trials. This project will devise a new generation of Tag/Catchers that are camouflaged to the immune system, so are much more potent for therapeutics. Collaborating with Imperial College London, we will apply this new protein superglue to overcome major barriers to cost-effective and potent CAR-T cell therapy against lymphoma. This technology will also be a powerful advance for antibody, gene therapy and vaccine approaches under development by the group.

Researchers with wetlab expertise will have the chance to develop computational skills and computationally-focused researchers will have the chance to develop experimental skills. The project will involve protein design and evolution, using molecular biology and biophysics along with the latest AI or machine learning tools. According to the development of the project there may be the chance to learn other methods of interest including cell biology and structure determination. We will provide all relevant training in unfamiliar methods.

Responsibilities include managing research activities, generating high quality data, and devising new project approaches. You will be expected to draft scientific manuscripts and may be involved with day-to-day supervision of Masters or PhD students.

Candidates should have an enthusiastic approach to science. You will hold a PhD, or be near completion of a PhD, in biochemistry, computational biology, immunology or a related area of molecular biosciences. You will be skilled at presenting your data, verbally and in writing. You should be committed to collaborative and interdisciplinary research and be able to work both independently and as part of a research team. Substantial experience either with recombinant protein expression or computational biology is essential.

Applications are particularly welcome from women, black and minority ethnic candidates.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 3 years.

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Informal enquiries are welcomed to Prof Mark Howarth mh2186@cam.ac.uk.

If you have any questions about this vacancy or the application process, please contact the HR team (hr@phar.cam.ac.uk).

Please quote reference PL41712 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

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