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Research Associate (Fixed Term)

University of Cambridge - Department of Biochemistry

Location: Cambridge
Salary: £36,024 to £44,263 per annum
Hours: Full Time
Contract Type: Fixed-Term/Contract
Placed On: 30th November 2023
Closes: 5th January 2024
Job Ref: PH39640

The Maori lab, based in the Department of Biochemistry of Cambridge University, is inviting applications for a Research Associate. The position holder will join our research programme, which centres around a new paradigm in RNA biology: secreted extra-organismal RNA-binding proteins (RBPs).

Secreted extra-organismal RBPs have been recently discovered in honeybees and Listeria monocytogenes. In both instances, the RBP stabilises RNA outside the organism it originated from to interact with- and affect another organism. Given their recent discovery, it is unknown how widespread and diverse the roles of extra-organismal RBPs are.

Our recent studies identified an extra-organismal RBP in the honeybee jelly secretion, which is somewhat analogous to mammalian milk (Maori et al., Mol Cell, 2019; Maori et al., Cell Reports, 2019). Prompt by this observation, we explored the presence of such RBPs in breast milk. We isolated two secreted milk proteins with robust yet unknown RNA-binding capacity, playing essential metabolic roles. Both factors are conserved across mammals, active in the intestine, and interact with multiple receptors and components of the extracellular matrix. Therefore, our key goals are to define how and why these novel secreted RBPs bind RNA in human milk and the gastrointestinal tract.

To achieve these goals, the successful candidate will employ cutting-edge protein and RNA biochemistry techniques, imaging and high-throughput sequencing to assess the impact of RNA binding on protein/RNA stability and function. They will also test whether these secreted RBPs are endocytosed in their ribonucleoprotein forms and deliver their maternal RNA partners into cells.

Uncovering the biology of these novel extra-organismal RPBs would provide new knowledge about the bioactivity of breast milk and the healthy digestive process, and what could go wrong during disease. Hence, this research will ultimately contribute towards the development of transformative new research and technology avenues to sustain health and control disease.

Applicants will hold or be about to receive a PhD in a relevant subject. They will have a track record in driving competitive research, including peer reviewed publications as first author. The ideal candidate will be passionate about interdisciplinary research and be highly motivated to succeed professionally.

Strong experience with protein biochemistry, molecular RNA analyses and cell culture is highly desirable. A solid background in cell biology, protein activity assays and NGS analyses would be advantageous, but not mandatory.

The University of Cambridge is a signatory to the San-Francisco Declaration on Research (Assessment DORA), and in recruitment or promotion evaluations will assess research on the basis of its merits rather than the journal or venue in which it is published. Applicants should not include Journal Impact Factors or uncontextualized metrics in their applications. For more information: https://www.biology.cam.ac.uk/files/dora.pdf 

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available until 14 April 2026 in the first instance.

To apply online for this vacancy and to view further information about the role, please click on the apply button above.

Informal enquiries can be sent to Dr Maori: em514@cam.ac.uk

For any questions about this vacancy or the application process please contact: personnel@bioc.cam.ac.uk

Please quote reference PH39640 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University actively supports equality, diversity and inclusion and encourages applications from all sections of society.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.

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