Research Assistant / Associate in Chemical Engineering
Imperial College London Department of Chemical Engineering
United Kingdom

Job summary

Job listing information

  • Reference ENG01320
  • Date posted 14 July 2020
  • Closing date 13 August 2020

Key information about the role

  • Location South Kensington Campus (map)
  • Position type Full time, fixed term
  • Salary £35,477 – £43,734 plus benefits
  • Department Department of Chemical Engineering
  • Category Researcher / Non Clinical Researcher

Job description

The Department of Chemical Engineering is seeking a Research Assistant/Associate to investigate the development of RNA regulators to mitigate cellular burden in E. coli. Working under the supervision of Dr Francesca Ceroni, a newly appointed Lecturer in the Department, you will work on a synthetic biology project funded in collaboration with the Franco group at UCLA.

Synthetic biology has made it possible to repurpose cells to operate as microscale factories, energy sources, and even computers. However, the introduction of pathways that are poorly tunable and non-native to the host often causes undesired cross-interactions and unpredictable responses, and reliable engineering of cells remains a challenge. In particular, the expression of exogenous pathways triggers physiological changes in the host, usually leading to decreased growth due to consumption of cellular resources, a phenomenon known as cellular burden. These challenges could be mitigated using RNA-based regulators of gene expression, which are a programmable regulatory platform that imposes a lower burden on the host. Yet, little attention has been dedicated to systematically tuning the response function of RNA regulators. This project aims at screening and tuning the response function of two classes of RNA regulators. The regulators will then be employed as rapid, tunable components to better understand the burden response in E. coli. With improved knowledge of burden, we will engineer more robust bioproduction in E. coli. At every stage, experiments will be supported and guided by mathematical modelling.

Your role will be to carry out research in synthetic and molecular biology, undertake project management, writing of reports, research papers and applications and present the research at conferences. You will also: 

  • Actively plan and shape the direction of the research project
  • Supervise and train PhD, UG and Masters students
  • Help set up and manage the day-to-day operation of the laboratory

The successful candidate will have a background in biotechnology/biology/molecular or synthetic biology/bioengineering as well as experience in at least one of these areas: synthetic biology, biotechnologies, bioengineering, microfluidics analysis. You will also have: 

  • A PhD or near completion of a PhD* in Biology, Synthetic biology, Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering or related discipline
  • The ability to think critically and independently and to lead your own work programme
  • The ability to direct the work of supervised students

*Candidates who have not yet been officially awarded their PhD will be appointed as Research Assistant within the salary range £35,477 to £38,566 per annum.

 The post is available from 01 October 2020 for 36 months in the first instance, with the possibility of extension. The post is based in the Department of Chemical Engineering at Imperial College London (South Kensington Campus).

Informal enquiries about the post can be made to Dr Francesca Ceroni (

To apply, please select the "Apply now" button at the top of this page.

Further information about the post is available in the job description.

 Should you have any queries about the application process please contact

 Closing date: Midnight on Thursday 13th August 2020

For technical issues when applying online, please contact:

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