Research Officer in the Pathogenesis of Buruli ulcer

University of Surrey - School of Biosciences & Medicine

We are seeking to recruit an enthusiastic and committed Research Assistant to investigate the interplay between infectious disease and haemostasis (blood clotting), specifically in relation to a rare but devastating tropical disease called Buruli ulcer. This “flesh-eating” infection (a WHO-defined Neglected Tropical Disease) is caused by Mycobacterium ulcerans, due to the activity of an exotoxin called mycolactone.

It is an exciting time to be working in Dr Simmonds’ lab. We recently identified the molecular target of mycolactone, showing it to be a rare and powerful inhibitor of Sec61-dependent translocation into the ER. Consequently this has opened up great possibility to understand the pathogenesis of Buruli ulcer, as well as the fundamental cellular process of protein translocation.

This is a fantastic opportunity to join a thriving research team. The current post is one of 4 funded by a Wellcome Trust Investigator Award to Dr Simmonds that seeks to understand Buruli ulcer pathogenesis.

You will be involved in research that follows recent findings that mycolactone causes endothelial dysfunction and is associated with a local hypercoagulable state in patients. The working model is that this (and the consequent fibrin deposition and necrosis) is the trigger for ulcer formation, therefore representing a potential route for improving treatment regimes.

As the Research Officer on this project you will play an important role in coordinating and carrying out routine assays on the clinical and in vivo samples produced by collaborating labs. In addition, you will be encouraged to register for a PhD part-time for 4 years. Funds are available for as a final, 5th, year to complete your studies full-time. Your PhD project is expected to focus on the analysis of parts of this data that will reveal whether there are any differences in clotting factors between cases and controls, and seek to understand whether any environmental factors (such as diet) might contribute to this.

The ideal candidate for this post would have a BSc in molecular biology, cell biology, biomedical science or a closely allied discipline as well as experience of performing different types of routine assays on clinical samples. Candidates with a Master’s degree in a related subject (Mycobacteriology, Haemostasis, Cell/Molecular Biology) would be at an advantage. Since travel to Ghana, and interaction with Buruli ulcer patients, are important aspects of this project it is essential that you speak one of the dialects of the Kumasi region of Ghana, such as Twi. We welcome applications from candidates of endemic African countries; capacity building is an important aspect of Dr Simmonds work.

For an informal chat, please contact Dr Simmonds (, 01483 684714).

Further details:

For more information and to apply online, please download the further details and click on the 'apply online' button above.

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