Research Associate in Bioelectronics Systems Technology
University of Cambridge Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology
United Kingdom

The Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology wishes to appoint a Research Associate to join the Bioelectronics Systems Technology Group.

The project is a continuation of an ongoing research project in Professor Owens' group (BEST group). The project aims to use a biomimetic electronic device functionalized with native plasma membranes derived from mammalian (human) cells assembled into supported lipid bilayers to study the effect of toxins on human cells. This project will focus on generating plasma membranes containing over expressed ion channels on conducting polymer-based electronic devices and using a known toxin to close the ion channels, measuring changes in electrical output as a readout. This biomimetic membrane-functionalized organic electronic device will function as a robust platform, tunable at the biomolecular level, serving as a physiologically relevant alternative to using whole cells in characterizing host-pathogen or toxin responses at the critical first contact point: membrane interaction.

Electronic measurements can provide high content information about the electronic properties of highly insulating lipid assemblies, as well as their modulation by transmembrane proteins such as ion channels. Conducting polymers have recently been proposed as a new class of electronic material that can improve the interface with proteinaceous lipid assemblies thanks to a unique combination of properties including 1) their ability to act as ion-to-electron converters, 2) optical transparency rendering them compatible with standard optical methods routinely used for cell membrane characterization, and 3) mechanical properties advantageous for accommodating protein domains protruding on either side of the lipid membrane. Recent advances by Professor Owen's team in recreating native membranes with over-expressed ion channels have led to a breakthrough in using this platform for ion channel studies as an alternative to patch-clamp.

The ideal candidate will have a PhD with experience in electrophysiology, ion channel research, patch-clamp, coming from biochemistry, cell biology, biophysics or a related scientific discipline. The candidate should ideally have experience with organic bioelectronics. The candidate will have the responsibility to prepare biological membranes from cells overexpressing specific ion channels and characterize them optically and electrically. The role holder will work with physicists and engineers who will fabricate the devices and assist with Electrical Impedance Spectroscopy and transistor characterization using conducting polymer sensing technology.

Previous experience in electrical impedance spectroscopy techniques and/or device physics and an understanding of the relevant lipid biology are required. This is a multidisciplinary project and the successful candidate should be willing to and capable of interacting with team members from disciplines ranging from electrical engineering to chemistry to physics.

For further information about the BEST group visit www.ceb.cam.ac.uk/research/groups/best.

For further information about the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology visit www.ceb.cam.ac.uk.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 12 months in the first instance.

Click the 'Apply' button below to register an account with our recruitment system (if you have not already) and apply online.

For further information, contact Professor Roisin Owens at rmo37@cam.ac.uk.

Please quote reference NQ24647 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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