Post Doctoral Research Associate -AI-driven Structure-enabled Antiviral Platform
Diamond Light Source is the UK’s national synchrotron science facility. By accelerating electrons to near light-speed, Diamond generates brilliant beams of light from infra-red to X-rays which are used for academic and industrial research and development across a wide range of scientific disciplines.
Diamond is one of the most advanced scientific facilities in the world, and its pioneering capabilities and talented staff are helping to keep the UK at the forefront of scientific research.
About the Role
In May 2022, the National Institutes of health’s national institute of allergy and infectious diseases, announced 9 large Centres funded through its $1bn, 5-year Antiviral Drug Discovery (AViDD) program, to develop novel antiviral agents against SARS-CoV-2 and other viruses of pandemic potential. Both proposals that included Diamond and its XChem facility were successful: for the AI-driven, Structure-enabled Antiviral Platform (ASAP) Centre, Diamond leads both the Target Enablement Project and the Structure Biology Core; and for the Rapidly Emerging Antiviral Drug Development Initiative (READDI) Centre, Diamond is part of the Discovery Core.
The overarching goal of both Centres is to develop novel, low cost, and globally available antiviral therapeutics, both for current and future pandemics, and in doing so establish open knowledge bases that de-risk and accelerate antiviral discovery and development beyond the Centres.
Crystallographic fragment screening and structure-enabled drug design were already key drivers in the development to date of such much-needed antivirals, with over 2,000 X-ray crystal structures deposited in the Protein Data Bank In particular, Diamond’s ground-breaking XChem platform for fragment screening platform triggered the COVID Moonshot, a fully open-science drug discovery effort that, by targeting the SARS-CoV-2 Main protease with an aggressively structure-enabled approach, achieved a pre-clinical candidate in less 2 years. This collaboration forms the backbone of the ASAP Centre.
We are now seeking an enthusiastic scientist to contribute to the development of targets within the Target Enablement Project of ASAP. Building on our success with developing lead compounds targeting the main protease (Mpro) of SARS-CoV-2, initial work will be focused on proteases from emerging viral pathogens. You will be embedded in the Walsh group at Diamond and work closely with collaborators within the ASAP consortium, as well as being part of dedicated team of structural biologists at Diamond/XChem where you will act as a conduit and support fragment-based screening experiments.
Further responsibilities will include:
- Development of targets from selected emerging viral pathogens for structural studies and acting as lead scientist for one or more of these defined targets taking them through to successful X-ray fragment screens at XChem
- Contributing to the delivery of successful crystallographic (XChem) fragment screens and rapid turn-around of protein-ligand crystal structures to enable hit-to-lead development.
- Carrying out work to fulfil the aims of the research proposal (detailed in the Job Description appendix)0.
- Managing the day-to-day running of a research project.
- Leading in the analysis and authoring of scientific results in international peer-reviewed journals.
The position is available for the currently funded duration of the grant, in the first instance until May 2025.
Candidates must have an appropriate PhD and relevant scientific experience.
The successful candidate will demonstrate:
- A strong background in cloning, expression, and production of protein for structural biology.
- An interest in structure-based drug discovery, particularly fragment-based drug discovery or structure-based drug design.
- Strong analytical skills and excellent record keeping.
Experience with high-throughput methodologies is desirable.
You need to be a rigorous scientist, with the communication skills and aptitude to interact with staff on all levels; and well-honed organisation skills and the ability to work flexibly.
Diamond offers an exceptional benefits package to support staff in achieving a positive work/life balance. This includes 25 days annual leave plus 13 days of statutory and company holidays, along with flexible working hours and an excellent pension scheme. Staff also have access to a range of amenities on site including a nursery, cafes, a restaurant and sports and leisure facilities. A relocation allowance may also be available where applicable.
Please use the online application process to apply and tell us why you believe you are suitable for this role.
Where relevant, and possible for the role, we will consider flexible working arrangements, secondment and job share opportunities.
Diamond attract talented individuals from around the world and currently employ 44 different nationalities. Reflecting trends in our sector we employ more men than women (77% men and 23% women as at March 2021). Therefore, we particularly welcome applications from suitably qualified women.
If you are disabled and would like to be considered under the Disability Confident Scheme, please let us know via the online application process.
Diamond are members of Working Families (the UK’s work-life balance organisation), we have also achieved the Athena SWAN Bronze award and Disability Confident Level Two.