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Research Assistant/Associate: Instinct

Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences

Newcastle University, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK


  • Posted on: 04th Nov 2021
  • Salary: Research Assistant starting from £28,756 to £30,947 per annum
  • REF: 13867
  • Closes: 12th November 2021
  • Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
  • Hours: Full Time

We are a world class research-intensive university. We deliver teaching and learning of the highest quality. We play a leading role in economic, social and cultural development of the North East of England. Attracting and retaining high-calibre people is fundamental to our continued success.


Research Assistant starting from £28,756 to £30,947 per annum

Research Associate starting from £31,406 to £33,309per annum

Closing Date: Wednesday 12November 2021

The Role

Based in the Wolfson Childhood Cancer Research Centre, a Research Assistant/Associate position is available to support the research activities of the INSTINCT-MB programme through the provision of analytical, bioinformatic and computational services for high-throughput molecular ‘omics techniques, including genomics, proteomics, epigenomics and transcriptomics, and their integration with datasets generated from experimental drug screening and efficacy studies.

Medulloblastoma is one of the leading causes of childhood cancer death. You will work on the INSTINCT-MB programme, which brings together teams based at Newcastle University, The Institute of Cancer Research and University College London. The programme will generate a wide range of contemporary high-resolution next-generation sequencing and array-based genomic and epigenomic datasets across large cohorts of human tumours and experimental models, alongside complex drug screening, efficacy and clinical phenotype information. Using these datasets, you will undertake comprehensive strategies aimed at the characterisation and therapeutic targeting of medulloblastoma biology.

This is a bioinfomatics/computing role. You will develop and support the computational, analytical and storage needs for these datasets within INSTINCT-MB. You will be PhD-qualified, or expect to obtain a PhD in the next year, with experience in contemporary bioinformatics as applied to translational cancer genomics, advanced computing and database operation and a keen interest to develop your research skills and career in these areas.

This is a full time, fixed term post available for 2 years. For informal enquiries please contact Professor Steve Clifford at steve.clifford@ncl.ac.uk

As part of our commitment to career development for research colleagues, the University has developed 3 levels of research role profiles. These profiles set out firstly the generic competences and responsibilities expected of role holders at each level and secondly the general qualifications and experiences needed for entry at a particular level.

Key Accountabilities

  • Although working under the general guidance of an academic or Principal Investigator, the postholder will contribute ideas, including enhancements to the technical or methodological aspects of their studies, thus providing substantial ‘added value’
  • Develop and carry out the specified project using appropriate techniques and equipment as outlined in the personal requirements
  • Determine appropriate methodologies for research, with advice and support where required
  • Contribute to grant applications submitted by others and in time develop own research objectives and proposals for funding
  • Begin to write, with appropriate support, proposals for individual research funding or, where funders do not permit this, contribute to the writing of collective bids
  • Assess research findings for the need/scope for further investigations
  • Contribute to the writing up of their research for publication and dissemination, either through seminar and conference presentations or through publications
  • Present research findings, either at conferences or through publications in reputable outlets appropriate to the discipline
  • May be involved in the supervision, with guidance, of final year undergraduate research projects and in providing support to postgraduate research students or Research Assistants
  • Will need to work with the support staff and, on occasions, with undergraduate and postgraduate students, and interact intellectually with other academic members of the Institute.
  • May contribute to events celebrating the public engagement of science/social sciences/humanities
  • Develop an awareness of University structures, policies and procedures and relevant issues in the higher education, research, social and political environment
  • Use and develop bioinformatics tools to analyse and integrate biological, genetic, functional genomic and therapeutic datasets generated from experimental models and human tumour cohorts, and use these to identify critical therapeutic vulnerabilities for further investigation and validation.
  • Be responsible for the day-to-day operation, maintenance and servicing of computational equipment to ensure maximum availability and access.
  • Maintain a high level of up-to-date specialist knowledge of bioinformatics computation, by reading relevant journals and participating in relevant conferences, so as to support the INSTINCT-MB team in making strategic decisions.
  • Work alongside, and liaise with, collaborative partners within the INSTINCT-MB network institutions.
  • Ensure intellectual rigour and adherence to ethical standards in the research for which they are responsible; all experiments conducted will be expected to meet the Paediatric Brain Tumour Research Group’s rigorous scientific standards.
  • Perform any other duties within the remit of the grade as required by the programme PIs.

The Person (Essential)

Knowledge, Skills and Experience


  • Ability to work well as part of a team and rapidly acquire new skills
  • Detailed subject knowledge in the area of cancer bioinformatics
  • Likelihood of advanced skills directly related to the research projects
  • High level of analytical and problem-solving capability
  • Ability to communicate complex information with clarity and to encourage the commitment of others
  • Experience of research with clear transferable skills and some experience or awareness of the research environment
  • Presentations at conferences and/or high-quality publications and/or substantial contributions to advanced research programmes
  • Knowledge of a modern scripting language (Python, Ruby or Perl), knowledge of R/BioConductor
  • Experience of analysis of high-throughput biological and clinical data using bioinformatics software and methodologies (e.g. R/Bioconductor statistical environment)
  • Previous experience in developing and/or managing bioinformatic resources
  • Experience in high-throughput genomic analysis techniques
  • Previous specialist experience in bioinformatics and an in-depth specialist understanding, and interest in evaluation and possible acquisition of, the latest breakthrough technologies, in bioinformatics and computational biology


  • Experience in next-generation sequencing techniques
  • Experience of curating biological, genomic and clinical data, and management of sample resources
  • Experience in the development of bioinformatics tools for the analysis of complex datasets is desirable
  • Some knowledge of SQL databases and web development. Experience with a modern OO language for application development (such as Java) is beneficial. Experience with Linux operating systems, OS X and Windows platforms

Attributes and Behaviour


  • Experience at doctoral level or equivalent with a substantial research background, of strong relevance to the aims of INSTINCT-MB programme
  • Clear evidence of the ability to work as part of a multi-disciplinary research team
  • Evidence of good oral communication skills; flexible independent working; initiative
  • Proven analytical and problem solving skills and experience


  • Experience in paediatric neuro-oncology research


  • Good honours degree (or equivalent) with specialist subject knowledge in cancer genomics and bioinformatics (Research Assistant)
  • A PhD in cancer genomics and bioinformatics required (Research Associate)

Newcastle University is committed to being a fully inclusive Global University which actively recruits, supports and retains colleagues from all sectors of society. We value diversity as well as celebrate, support and thrive on the contributions of all our employees and the communities they represent.We are proud to be an equal opportunities employer and encourage applications from everybody, regardless of race, sex, ethnicity, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, age, disability, gender identity, marital status/civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, as well as being open to flexible working practices.

The University holds a silver Athena SWAN award in recognition of our good employment practices for the advancement of gender equality. The University also holds the HR Excellence in Research award for our work to support the career development of our researchers, and is a member of the Euraxess initiative supporting researchers in Europe.

We understand how important the full employment package is to our colleagues at Newcastle University and we are committed to providing a great range of benefits and discounts for all. You can learn more about what is available here on ourBenefitsWebsite page.

Requisition ID: 13867

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