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Research Associate in Synthetic Biology


icos_logo_wallpaperClosing Date: 14 March 2021

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 toour continued success.

Salary: £30,942.00 – £40,322.00 per annum

Please apply here:

The Role

This exciting Research Associate opening is looking for a synthetic biologist or DNA cryptography expert to work as part of a highlyinterdisciplinary team at the ICOS Research Group

You will have responsibility for carrying out research on barcoding and watermarking living cells. This will involve working with computer scientists on the definition of biological constraints for barcodes, cyphers or watermark generation as well as the experimental aspects ofcell transformations for their implementation in vivo. You will seek to utilise the whole gamut of molecular biology techniques togenerate, store, and retrieve bio-orthogonal durable barcodes/watermarks into/from bacterial, plant or mammalian cells (including, but not limited, use of recent CRISPR prime and related techniques). You will have the opportunity to work closely with computationalscientist and bioinformaticians and will have access to a state-of-the-art synthetic biology laboratory, nanotechnology facilities as wellas computational equipment to test, debug and improve the experimental work (for more information on our state-of-the-art  facilities  and  the  Portabolomics  project,  please  check: .

You will work collaboratively with other biologists, nanotechnologists and scientific computing experts in the project to achieve projectgoals in general and, in particular, to barcode and watermark all the new cell lines produced in our projects. You will also aid, and training of, academic, technical and research staff and students on specific experimental techniques and in the use of specialised experimentalequipment when necessary for barcoding, watermarking living cels. You will keep excellent records of all laboratory experiments,procedures, protocols, workflows and outcomes, enabling reuse, interpretation by team members and delivery of project milestones,and this includes the barcoding and documentation of our existing (and future) cell lines.

This position is available on a full time, fixed term basis and available to start immediately. This position is tenable, initially for 12 months from start date, or until the official project end date, whichever is soonest.

For any informal enquiries please contact Prof. Natalio Krasnogor, Professor of Computing Science and Synthetic Biology via  OR Dr Sara Friedl, Portabolomics Research Director via email: .

For more information about the School of Computing and our research please Click here. For more informationon our State-of-the-art Urban Science Building, please Click here.

Key Accountabilities 

  • Design, experimentally implement, test and debug cellular barcoding and watermarking strategies
  • Development of repeatable experimental protocols for the above in both prokaryotes and eukaryotes
  • Contribute to the design of scalable, high-throughput automated workflows to speed-up laboratory operations for points 1 & 2
  • Contribution to writing scientific papers
  • Oral presentations at scientific meetings, workshops, conferences as well as business settings
  • Developing the social media strategy for the project

The Person (Essential) Knowledge, Skills and Experience

  • Demonstrable laboratory experience in synthetic biology, microbiology or DNA cryptography techniques, g., DNAsequencing and synthesis, plasmids and chromosomal manipulation techniques, operons design and assembly, DNA replication, stability, data encoding/decoding in DNA/RNA, cloning and transformation in Bacillus spp., E. coli, S.cerevisiae, P. pastoris, etc
  • Demonstrable experience with the use of version control systems such as github, bitbucket, gitlab or cellrepo.
  • Publication of work in peer-reviewed conferences and journals


  • Demonstrable experience with advanced molecular techniques such as utilisation of reverse transcriptases, flipases,CRISPR/CAS system, CRISPR prime, etc
  • Demonstrable experience in laboratory automation
  • Demonstrable experience of, or at least an understanding of, fluorescence microscopy and it application
  • Use standard bioinformatics and statistical computer programs to analyse laboratory data, g., via Python, Ruby or Javaprogramming languages
  • Demonstrable experience working with computer scientists, mathematicians, modellers or colleagues of a different discipline
  • Presentation of work at group meetings scientific events

Attributes and Behaviour


  • An ability to communicate effectively via oral and written media (e.g technical reports, papers, presentations)
  • Capacity for original thought and independent action
  • Enthusiastic, hardworking and goal-setter
  • Ability to interact with people from different disciplines
  • Punctual and generally dependable


  • Communication skills with the general public



  • PhD awarded in synthetic biology, biotechnology or in DNA cryptography or a very closely related discipline
  • Candidates must be able to spend time away from Newcastle visiting collaborators’ labs and attending business meetings outside Newcastle, including international conferences and industrial partners

Newcastle University is committed to being a fully inclusive Global University which actively recruits, supports and retains staff from all sectors of society.  We value diversity as well as celebrate, support and thrive on the contributions of all our employees and thecommunities 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.

Please note: previous to invitation to an interview, long-listed candidates will need to provide 2 referees from whom references will be requested. Upon reception of two satisfactory references, long-listed candidates will be considered for shortlisting. If shortlisted, candidates will be invited to a remote video interview.  Full details of the interview process will be provided only to shortlisted candidates.

Please be advised that due to the minimum salary thresholds imposed by the UKVI, this post may not qualify for University sponsorship under Tier 2 of the points-based system.