Research Assistant in Gene Therapy

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Oxford_Logo_Square_Blue.jpgNuffield Division of Clinical Laboratory Sciences, RDM, John Radcliffe Hospital, Oxford

Grade 6: Salary in the range £27,629 - £30,175 p.a.

We are seeking an enthusiastic Research Assistant in Gene Therapy to work with the Gene Medicine Research Group, directed by Associate Professors Deborah Gill and Stephen Hyde.

As part of the UK Cystic Fibrosis Gene Therapy Consortium, we have developed a new lentiviral vector, which efficiently targets the airways. We have been awarded a Cystic Fibrosis Trust grant to aid preparation for a first-in-human clinical trial to investigate the feasibility of this viral gene therapy approach.

The successful applicant will assist in the transfer our current lentiviral production process to a Contract Manufacturing Organisation for the production of cGMP lentiviral vector for the clinical trial. This will include the development of new assays and the evaluation of efficacy of the manufactured vector. The position will also involve the pre-clinical assessment of gene expression and toxicology in support of the clinical trial application. This is a unique opportunity for a research scientist to contribute to the clinical evaluation of a new gene therapy product. The successful candidate will hold a Bachelor's or Master's degree in a relevant science subject, as well as have expertise in molecular biology techniques and relevant laboratory experience in line with the duties of the post, as outlined in the Job Description.

This is a full-time fixed-term position funded by The Cystic Fibrosis Trust until 31 March 2019, available from 1 August 2018.

Candidates are encouraged to discuss their needs and preferences for work arrangements at interview. Applications for this vacancy are to be made online. For further details, including a job description and person specification, please see below.

The closing date for applications is 12.00 noon on 21 June 2017.

Overview of the role

Background:

People with the genetic disease Cystic Fibrosis (CF) typically suffer from repeated bacterial infections of the conducting airways leading to lung failure. The UK CF Gene Therapy Consortium is focused on developing a clinical gene therapy for Cystic Fibrosis (CF) lung disease. We have published the results from a recent Phase 2b clinical trial of a non-viral (plasmid/liposome) gene therapy in the lungs of patients with CF, the first clinical study to demonstrate that CF gene therapy can benefit lung function.

Our Aim:

We have developed a new, highly efficient lentiviral vector, which efficiently targets the airways, and aim to deliver the CFTR gene to CF individuals to treat the disease. We have been awarded a Cystic Fibrosis Trust (CF Trust) grant to aid preparation for a first-in-human clinical trial to investigate the feasibility of this viral gene therapy approach. The Position: Applicants are invited for a Research Assistant position at the Oxford University Radcliffe Department of Medicine (NDCLS division) to participate in this collaborative project. The position is funded until 31st March 2019 in the first instance.

Key Tasks:

The successful applicant will assist in the transfer of our current lentiviral production processes to a Contract Manufacturing Organization for the production of cGMP lentiviral vector for the clinical trial. This will include the development of new assays and evaluation of efficacy of the manufactured vector. The position will also involve the pre-clinical assessment of gene expression and toxicology in support of the clinical trial application. This is a unique opportunity for a research assistant to contribute to the clinical evaluation of a new gene therapy product.

Responsibilities

  • To perform the research experiments comprising this project including vector design construction and testing in cell culture and animal models;
  • To adapt and develop experimental protocols as required;
  • To plan, execute and record all experiments; To prepare data for reports, scientific presentation and abstracts/papers;
  • To maintain current knowledge of scientific developments in the relevant areas;
  • To attend relevant trainings and workshops as advised by supervisors;
  • To undertake general laboratory management duties that may be required;

Selection criteria

Essential:

  • Bachelors or Masters degree in a relevant science subject
  • Relevant practical working experience in a laboratory
  • Expertise in molecular biology techniques, including quantitative RT-PCR
  • Experience in recombinant virus and/or mammalian cell culture Excellent communication and presentation skills

Desirable:

  • Knowledge or experience of assay development (eg quantification of DNA, RNA and/or protein)
  • Knowledge or experience of manufacture of bio-therapeutics and/or working with GMP
  • Knowledge or experience of gene therapy vector technology/production
  • Use of statistics for assay validation
  • Experience of in vivo experiments and ownership of Home Office Licence

Friday, May 19th 2017

 

Purifying mRNA from tissue samples.

 

E.coli from a large scale industrial production of our clinical trial plasmid pGM169.

 

Sheep lung parenchyma (cell nuclei blue) transduced with an adenoviral vector (green).

 

A pellet of E.coli containing a plasmid expressing a pink fluorescent protein.

 

Mouse lung large airway (cell nuclei blue) transduced with an adenoviral vector (green).

 

Human airway liquid interface cultures transduced with a lentivirus expressing Luciferase.

 

A CFTR Western blot, to confirm protein production in cell culture.

 

A cake that only some of us got to enjoy!