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Structural Brain Plasticity 

Job Details

Hiring Organization University of Birmingham
Post Name Structural Brain Plasticity 
Qualification First degree in Biochemistry, Biology, Genetics, Neuroscience, or related Life Sciences disciplines and a Ph.D. (or near completion) in Biochemistry, Biology, Genetics, Neuroscience or related Life Sciences disciplines and/or equivalent research experience, are required.
Industry Government
Employment Type Full Time
Work Hours 8 Hours
Salary GBP 31406 To GBP 33309 Per Year 
Location BirminghamEnglandUnited Kingdom  B2 4AA

Position Details

A Research Fellow is sought to investigate molecular mechanisms underlying structural brain plasticity and neurodegeneration. The aim of this project is to investigate what causes Toll signaling to switch between promoting generative structural change. In this project, candidate mechanisms will be tested in vitro, in cell culture, and in vivo, with the aim to link evidence from molecular biology, protein biochemistry, and cell biology.

This project is integrated into a larger Wellcome Trust-funded research program led by Professor A Hidalgo “A molecular switch between structural brain plasticity and neurodegeneration” involving two other postdocs with the overall aim to investigate how experience and behavior modify the.

Brain throughout life and understand the balance between structural brain plasticity and neurodegeneration. With this team, we aim to link molecular mechanisms that regulate structural brain plasticity and neurodegeneration to cells, neural circuits, neurites, synapses, and behavior.

This project will use the fruit-fly Drosophila as a model organism in vivo, cell culture, and in vitro experiments.  It will require mastering methods in molecular biology, cell culture, protein biochemistry, Drosophila genetics, in vivo cell biology, and laser scanning confocal microscopy.

Summary of Role

  • Work within the Wellcome Trust Investigator Award research grant into “A molecular switch between structural brain plasticity and neurodegeneration”, directed by Professor Alicia Hidalgo (University of Birmingham).
  • Operate within the area of molecular cell biology, cell culture, protein biochemistry, Drosophila genetics, bioinformatics, immunostainings, laser scanning confocal microscopy, and imaging – with a focus on neuroscience.
  • Design, plan and execute research experiments in the above areas and obtain research findings. Analyze and interpret research results and findings from the project, using appropriate methodology.
  • Supervise and teach other members of the research team (e.g. Master and Ph.D. students) and openly share expert knowledge with team members (e.g. post-docs). 
  • Collaborate with other two post-docs working in this research program, to deliver on project aims. 
  • Contribute to writing funding bids as and if appropriate, e.g. by generating preliminary data for funding bids by the PI. 
  • Contribute to licensing or spin-out deals with demonstrated commercial success (such as IP generated), should the opportunity emerge.
  • Contribute to the public understanding of neuroscience, by participating in outreach and public engagement activities.

Main Duties / Responsibilities

  • Work under the direct supervision of Professor Alicia Hidalgo, to carry out experiments, troubleshoot, generate and analyze data, to deliver on this Wellcome Trust-funded research project aims.
  • Focus on, adapt, develop research objectives and engage in the intellectual aspects of the project, to enable cutting-edge discoveries, under the guidance of Professor Hidalgo.
  • Design, plan and execute experiments to generate data for the project and analyze and interpret data.
  • Collect research data through a variety of research methods, including learning new methods, scientific experimentation, and keeping up with the relevant literature.
  • Contribute to developing new experiments, techniques, and methods, troubleshooting, and optimizing protocols to ensure experiments run smoothly and to find creative solutions to solve scientific problems.
  • Periodically and regularly write findings with figures to facilitate the preparation of research publications.
  • Apply knowledge and critical thinking to develop new intellectual understanding.
  • Deal and aim to resolve problems that may affect the achievement of research objectives and meeting project deadlines
  • Disseminate research findings for publication, research seminars, and other presentations, together with Prof Hidalgo and other team members. This includes contributing to writing research papers and reviews, attending conferences (which could be abroad) and presenting talks and posters, and giving a periodic presentation of progress reports at group meetings.
  • Contribute to writing bids for research funding, including the generation of preliminary data for funding bids by the PI.
  • Supervise students (undergraduate, Master’s, and Ph.D. students) on research-related work and provide guidance to other lab members. 
  • Provide guidance, as required, to support staff and any students who may be assisting with the research, contributing to the lab’s scientific, cooperative, culture.
  • Undertake management/administration arising from research as required (e.g. writing reports, writing lab protocols, curating data in digital platforms, etc). 
  • Undertake careful and regular data management and curation, of own data and of students’ or other team members’ data that work under their supervision.
  • Contribute to Departmental/School research-related activities and research-related administration, as and if required.
  • Contribute to public engagement activities of manifest benefit to the School, College, University, and Hidalgo Lab, under the supervision of project leader Prof. A Hidalgo. This can involve presentations/talks for the public, hands-on events for the public such as in the science museum, school visits, videos, zoom interactions, etc.
  • Participate in outreach activities to disseminate research findings to a wider public. 
  • Promote equality and values diversity acting as a role model and fostering an inclusive working culture.

Person Specification

  • First degree in Biochemistry, Biology, Genetics, Neuroscience, or related Life Sciences disciplines and a Ph.D. (or near completion) in Biochemistry, Biology, Genetics, Neuroscience or related Life Sciences disciplines and/or equivalent research experience, are required. 
  • Experience working with molecular biology, protein biochemistry, cell culture, and/or cell biology. 
  • Experience with also working with Drosophila is desirable and could be an advantage.
  • High-level analytical capability and understanding of the scientific process.
  • Independent intellectual critical thinking skills.
  • Ability to communicate complex information clearly, in English, in writing, and in visually informative presentations, orally and in writing.
  • Ability to learn new methods and approaches and contribute to developing new methods, troubleshooting, solving problems, and finding creative solutions.
  • Ability to learn and adapt to meet scientific goals and deliver on project aims. 
  • Ability to assess resource requirements and use resources effectively.
  • Ability to contribute to the planning and organizing of the research program and specific research project
  • Ability to coordinate own work with others to avoid conflict or duplication of effort.
  • Excellent teamwork attitude, readiness to learn from others and teach others and contribute to common scientific goals.
  • Knowledge of the protected characteristics of Equality and how to actively ensure in day-to-day activity in own area that those with protected characteristics are treated equally and fairly
  • The post-holder will be supervised directly by Professor Alicia Hidalgo and they will meet periodically to discuss project direction, plans and data.
  • The post-holder will communicate with Professor Hidalgo verbally, in writing (e.g. periodic reports), through presentations, posters, and by writing scientific research articles and reviews. 
  • The post-holder is expected to attend and participate in scientific research conferences (online or through traveling, which could be outside the UK) and to present their work when the project is mature enough to do so.
  • The post-holder will supervise others and will communicate in such a manner (verbally, in writing, etc.) to enable others to work effectively.
  • The post-holder is expected to communicate problems and discuss them openly with Prof Hidalgo and others as appropriate. For experimental and technical problems, the post-holder is expected to troubleshoot and find creative scientific solutions.
  • The post-holder is expected to organize and manage their own time effectively to deliver on project aims. They are also expected to help teach others they supervise to organize their own time productively.
  • The post-holder will be responsible for delivering on project aims by carrying out experiments, troubleshooting, acquiring and analyzing data to completion, and writing or contributing to writing papers for publication.
  • The post-holder will be responsible for keeping on top of the literature relevant to the project.  
  • The post-holder will be responsible for finding out how to solve scientific questions, and problems or applying or developing methodology, including by acquiring new skills.
  • The post-holder will be responsible for storing and curating their own data in the University server and external drives and ensuring no data loss occurs.

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