Research Associate in Chemical Biology

Updated: 6 months ago
Location: Cardiff, WALES
Deadline: The position may have been removed or expired!


Research Associate in Chemical Biology
Cardiff School of Chemistry
Cardiff University

We seek to recruit an enthusiastic, highly motivated scientist with proven intellectual and technical abilities to work on a chemical biology project. The project, funded by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), involves a collaboration between Prof. Richards (Cardiff School of Chemistry) and Prof. Naismith (Rosalind Franklin Institute, Harwell and Oxford University).

The overall focus of the programme is to develop an enzyme system for time resolved crystallography using the X-ray free electron laser at the Rosalind Franklin Institute in Harwell. Experience with protein expression and purification, kinetic assays, and computer-based methods for modelling protein/ligand complexes is highly desirable.

Applicants must hold a postgraduate degree at PhD level in Chemical Biology or Enzymology, or equivalent, or relevant industrial experience.

Further information is available at the following group web-pages:
Professor Nigel Richards

For informal enquiries about the role and the Cardiff School of Chemistry, please contact Prof. Nigel Richards: e-mail ; Tel. +44 (0)29 2087 6208 ).

For further details about working at Cardiff University, please contact Ms Alison Blake ( ; +44 (0)29 2087 4805 ).

This position is full time (35 hours per week) and is available immediately for 2 years.

Salary: £33,797 - £40,322 per annum (Grade 6). It is not anticipated that an appointment be made above £33,797 per annum (Grade 6.30).

Important note: It is the University’s policy to use the person specification as a key tool for short-listing. Candidates should evidence that they meet ALL of the essential criteria as well as, where relevant, the desirable. As part of the application process you will be asked to provide this evidence via a supporting statement.  Please ensure that the evidence you are providing corresponds with the numbered criteria outlined below. Your application will be considered based on the information you provide under each element.

When attaching the supporting statement to your application profile, please ensure that you name it with the vacancy reference number, e.g. Supporting Statement for 10301BR.

Date advert posted: Thursday, 5 November 2020

Closing date: Sunday, 6 December 2020

This post has previously been advertised to employees of Cardiff University only.  We now invite external applications.

Cardiff University is committed to supporting and promoting equality and diversity and to creating an inclusive working environment. We believe this can be achieved through attracting, developing, and retaining a diverse range of staff from many different backgrounds who have the ambition to create a University which seeks to fulfil our social, cultural and economic obligation to Cardiff, Wales, and the world. In supporting our employees to achieve a balance between their work and their personal lives, we will also consider proposals for flexible working or job share arrangements.

Job Description

Main Function

To conduct research within chemical biology and contribute to the overall research performance of the School and University by publishing results in high-quality journals. To pursue excellence in research and to inspire others to do the same.

Main Duties and Responsibilities


  • To conduct research within chemical biology and contribute to the overall research performance of the School and University by the production of measurable outputs including bidding for funding, publishing in national academic journals and conferences, and the recruitment and supervision of postgraduate research students;
  • To visit the Rosalind Franklin Institute, Harwell, to carry out experiments and work closely with the other project PDRA in the group of Professor James Naismith;
  • To develop research objectives and proposals for own or joint research including research funding proposals;
  • To attend and or present at conferences/seminars at a local and national level as required;
  • To undertake administrative tasks associated with the research project, including the planning and organisation of the project and the implementation of procedures required to ensure accurate and timely reporting;
  • To prepare research ethics and research governance applications as appropriate;
  • To review and synthesise existing research literature within the field;
  • To participate in School research activities;
  • To build and create networks both internally and externally to the university, to influence decisions, explore future research requirements, and share research ideas for the benefit of research projects.
  • To engage effectively with industrial, commercial and public sector organisations, professional institutions, other academic institutions etc., regionally and nationally  to raise awareness of the School’s profile, to cultivate strategically valuable alliances, and to pursue opportunities for collaboration across a range of activities. These activities are expected to contribute to the School and the enhancement of its regional and national profile;
  • To undergo personal and professional development that is appropriate to and which will enhance performance;
  • To participate in School administration and activities to promote the School and its work to the wider University and the outside world;
  • To ensure that an understanding of the importance of confidentiality is applied when undertaking all duties;
  • To abide by the University policies on Health and Safety and Equality, Diversity & Inclusivity;
  • Any other duties not included above, but consistent with the role.

Person Specification

Essential Criteria

Qualifications and Education

  • Postgraduate degree at PhD level in Chemical Biology or Enzymology, or equivalent, or relevant industrial experience
  • Knowledge, Skills and Experience
  • An established expertise and proven portfolio of research or relevant industrial experience within the following research fields:
    • Chemical Biology
    • Mechanistic Enzymology
  • Knowledge of current status of research in specialist field
  • Proven ability to publish in high-quality journals
  • Knowledge and understanding of competitive research funding to be able to develop applications to funding bodies
  • Communication and Team Working
  • Ability in effective and persuasive communication
  • Ability to supervise the work of others to focus team efforts and motivate individuals
  • Other
  • Ability to demonstrate creativity, innovation and team-working within work
  • Ability to work without close supervision

  • Desirable Criteria
  • Experience in designing and performing enzyme assays
  • Experience in using computer-based methods to understand protein structure and protein/ligand complexes
  • Evidence of ability to participate in, develop both internal and external networks, and utilise them to enhance the research activities of the School
  • Fluency in Welsh, written and oral

  • Additional Information

    Project Description

    We will develop an enzyme system for time resolved crystallography using the X-ray free electron laser at the Rosalind Franklin Institute in Harwell. The enzyme catalyses C-C bond formation and has potential use in novel biocatalytic routes to clinically useful drugs. Working in collaboration with Professor James Naismith (Oxford), we have solved the structure of the native enzyme and identified residues in the active site. The overall goal of the project is to visualise key chemical steps during the enzyme-catalysed reaction by synthesising and characterising photoactive substrates, which allow turnover in the enzyme crystals to be synchronised. This work has the potential to change our understanding of enzyme catalysis.

    The PDRA will carry out the design and characterisation of enzyme libraries, and investigate their substrate selectivity and potential use in drug synthesis. In addition, s/he will assay the ability of enzyme variants to bind photocaged substrate analogues.

    Job Category

    Academic - Research

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