Research Assistant - MGU 1404

Updated: about 19 hours ago
Location: Harwell, ENGLAND
Deadline: 30 Nov 2020

View Vacancy -- Research Assistant - MGU 1404
Open Date
28/10/2020, 13:00
Close Date
30/11/2020, 23:55

MRC Harwell Institute

MRC Harwell Institute is an international biological research centre at the forefront of the use of mammalian models to study genetics and human diseases. Located on the Harwell Campus, just south of Oxford, it is nestled amongst a vibrant community of leading science organisations. We aim to advance medicine through cutting-edge research into the genetic basis of disease. Our research programmes span an entire lifetime, from embryonic development to diseases of ageing. There are over 300 staff at the Institute made up of research scientists, technicians, animal carers, and business support personnel.
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MRC - 5

Harwell Campus, Oxfordshire

£25,198 - £30,762 per annum (depending on experience)

Fixed Term


Full Time

Until 31 March 2022

Overall purpose:

We are seeking a highly motivated Research Assistant with a keen interest in metabolism and the genetics of type 2 diabetes and obesity. 

The overall aim of our research programme on the genetics of type 2 diabetes is to investigate mechanisms underlying human genome wide association (GWA) loci for diabetes, with a particular focus on adipose tissue and fat distribution. Genome wide association (GWA) studies have identified hundreds of robust well-replicated human loci linked to T2D[1]  and associated traits. These associations include genes involved in fat distribution (waist-hip-ratio, WHR) which have associations with diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk independently of BMI[2] . The alteration of metabolic risk through changes in the size and capacity of particular adipose depots points to important physiological mechanisms that are not well understood. 

The RA will carry out functional and mechanistic analysis of GWAS loci for type 2 diabetes that are already being worked on by the group and as directed. Our strategy has been to select candidate genes and SNPs in GWA loci by collaborating with human geneticists, clinicians and bioinformaticians to help identify the most likely causal genes or transcripts at each locus.  

Working on selected loci the RA will further investigate candidate effector genes/transcripts, candidate regulatory SNPs and elements, using our own and publicly available data and tools (epigenome, gene structure, expression and association data). The RA will assist in carrying   out functional analysis of candidate SNPs, genes and transcripts in vivo in the mouse and/or in vitro in both human and mouse cells. For example, by making or using conditional overexpression, knockout, knockdown, reporter and genome-edited alleles. This will include detailed in vivo metabolic physiology, using tissues for analysis and in vitro cellular mechanistic studies using a broad range of techniques as required. 

The aim is to understand the function and mechanistic basis of causal genes within GWAS loci and to publish this work. 

You will work in the laboratory of Professor Roger D Cox. See  for details of their research interests. 

Candidates should have knowledge of genetics and an interest in using the mouse as a model.

Candidates must be capable of working in an efficient and organised way and performing experiments to a very high standard of accuracy and reproducibility. Good and accurate record keeping is essential.

Main duties / key responsibilities:  

As directed by the PI to carry out experiments both in vitro and in vivo. 

This will include detailed in vivo metabolic analysis and use of tissues for in vitro experiments. 

The successful candidate should be able to:

  • Take a proactive approach to learning and implementing new techniques and approaches
  • Manage mouse colonies and mouse resources efficiently
  • With appropriate training carry out mouse metabolic phenotyping in accordance with Home Office regulations and ethical committee approval acquiring the necessary skills and competencies
  • Carry out experiments using in vitro methods and approaches
  • Analyse (using the appropriate statistical methods) and report data (verbal and written reports)
  • Keep excellent scientific records
  • Present work internally
  • Contribute to lab meetings
  • Maintain a good knowledge of the relevant literature and of the wider field and actively promote this to the group and in particular students
  • Work effectively with collaborators as required
  • Support PhD students and postdocs as required
  • Effectively manage resources
  • Undertake lab management duties such as ordering, H&S administration, lab and equipment maintenance, cell culture lab maintenance. 

Working relationships:

The group PI Professor Roger D. Cox 

As required reporting to Dr D. Aravani a postdoc in the group. 

Equality & Diversity

The MRC values the diverse skills and experience of its employees and is committed to achieving equality of treatment for all. Our objectives are that all individuals shall have equal opportunities for employment and advancement on the basis of their skills, aptitudes and abilities. The MRC is committed to the engagement and retention of the best possible talent and to creating an environment that encourages excellence in scientific research through good equalities and diversity leadership and management.  

Corporate/Local responsibilities & requirements

The job holder must at all times carry out their responsibilities with due regard to the MRC’s:

  • Code of Conduct  
  • Equality and Diversity policy  
  • Health and Safety policy  
  • Data Protection and Security policy 

Job descriptions should be reviewed on a regular basis and at the annual appraisal. Any changes should be made and agreed between the post holder and their manager.

 The above lists are not exhaustive and the job holder is required to undertake such duties as may reasonably be requested within the scope of the post. All employees are required to act professionally, co-operatively and flexibly in line with the requirements of the post and the MRC.

[1] Mahajan et al. Fine-mapping type 2 diabetes loci to single-variant resolution using high-density imputation and islet-specific epigenome maps. Nat Genet. 2018 Nov;50(11):1505-1513. doi: 10.1038/s41588-018-0241-6. Epub 2018 Oct 8.

[2] Pulit et al. Meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies for body fat distribution in 694 649 individuals of European ancestry. Hum Mol Genet. 2019 Jan 1;28(1):166-174. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddy327.


Education/Qualifications/Training required:


Minimum of a good degree in Genetics, Biology or Physiology

Previous work experience required:  


Experience of working in a cell and molecular biology laboratory


Experience of working in genetics and metabolic physiology 

Knowledge and experience:


  • Highly motivated with a keen interest in metabolism and the genetics of type 2 diabetes and obesity
  • Knowledge of genetics; mouse and/or human
  • Ability to manage resources
  • Ability to analyse data
  • Familiarity with online data resources relevant to genetics and able to interrogate those resources to inform their experimental work
  • Demonstrable ability to write scientifically
  • Basic skills in molecular biology 


  • Metabolic phenotyping skills
  • Knowledge of colony management
  • Experience of the analysis of proteins; quantitation, localization, protein-protein and protein-DNA interactions and immunofluorescence
  • Cell culture, CRISPR gene editing, gene silencing and overexpression in vitro
  • Experience of molecular biology techniques (sub cloning, DNA and RNA isolation, quantitative PCR, sequencing and reporter studies)
  • Experience of promoter studies
  • Experience of chromatin analysis
  • Experience of biological assays (ELISA, Bioplex etc)
  • Experience of large data set analysis
  • Data analysis skills and the proper use of statistics
  • Experience of using informatics tools for genetics and molecular biology
  • Experience of lab management 

Personal skills/behaviours/qualities:


  • Capable of critical thinking
  • Able to project manage and complete key experiments in a timely manner
  • Demonstrable ability to meet milestones
  • Ability to collaborate effectively
  • Flexible and adaptable, able to manage changing priorities
  • Good communication skills and effective engagement with colleagues, collaborators and the general public 



Additional information:  

The Mammalian Genetics Unit is a UK Medical Research Council unit at the MRC Harwell Institute, an international centre at the forefront of mouse genetics research. Located on the Harwell Campus, just south of Oxford, it is nestled amongst a vibrant community of leading science organisations. We aim to advance medicine through cutting-edge research into the genetic basis of disease. Our research programs span an entire lifetime, from embryonic development to diseases of ageing. They cover many areas, investigating the underlying genetics in disorders of sex development, the relationship between disrupted circadian rhythms and psychiatric disease, the role of cilia in development and disease, age-related deafness and otitis media, neurodegenerative disease and type 2 diabetes. 

More information about MRC Harwell can be found at

 Informal expressions of interest in this post can be sent to D Professor Cox at


Interviews will be held on 11 December 2020

The MRC is a great place to work and progress your career, be it in scientific research or the support functions.The MRC is a unique working environment where our researchers are rewarded by world class innovation and collaboration opportunities that the MRC name brings. The MRC is an excellent place to develop yourself further and a range of training & development opportunities will be available to you, including professional registration with the Science Council.
Choosing to come to work at the MRC (part of UKRI) means that you will have access to a whole host of benefits from a defined benefit pension scheme and excellent holiday entitlement to access to employee shopping/travel discounts and salary sacrifice cycle to work scheme, as well as the chance to put the MRC and UKRI on your CV in the future.
Our success is dependent upon our ability to embrace diversity and draw on the skills, understanding and experience of all our people. We welcome applications from all sections of the community irrespective of gender, race, ethnic or national origin, religion or belief, sexual orientation, disability or age. As "Disability Confident" employers, we guarantee to interview all applicants with disabilities who meet the minimum criteria for the vacancy.
UKRI supports research in areas that include animal health, agriculture and food security, and bioscience for health which includes research on animals, genetic modification and stem cell research. Whilst you may not have direct involvement in this type of research, you should consider whether this conflicts with your personal values or beliefs.
We will conduct a full and comprehensive pre-employment check as an essential part of the recruitment process on all individuals that are offered a position with UKRI. This will include a security check and an extreme organisations affiliation check.

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