Post Doctoral Research Associate (PDRA) – XFEL Hub (Biophysics)

Website DiamondLightSou Diamond Light Source

Business Area: Science
Full Time Salary: £33,297 to £39,172 per annum (Discretionary range to £45,048)
Term: 3 years
Provisional Interview Dates: w/c 19th August or w/c 2nd September 2019
Closing Date: 14/07/2019
Ref No: 10149

A newly funded Wellcome Investigator Award in Science entitled, “Dynamic Structural Biology: New Tools and Strategies for General Applications” (Number: 210734/Z/18/Z; Period: 01 April 2019 – 31 March 2024; PI: Allen M. Orville) has positions for up to four post-doctoral research associates (PDRAs). The principal science drivers include (metallo)enzymes that either make or degrade antibiotics. These include but are not limited to isopenicillin N synthase and a broad range of beta-lactamases.  We conduct research and development at the forefront of serial and time-resolved macromolecular crystallography. We also work to transfer those techniques that are complementary and synergistic between XFELs, synchrotrons and cryo-EM. Our research and development efforts cross several fronts in biophysics from enzyme kinetics to various types of spectroscopy and includes a variety of serial crystallography experiments at Diamond Light Source and at several XFEL facilities around the world.

We define dynamic structural biology as a philosophy as well as a set of tools to collect as much data as possible, from every sample and every X-ray pulse, at physiological temperature and pressure, with an aim to create time-resolved molecular movies of macromolecules engaged in function. One of our over-arching objectives is to make strategies that exploit microcrystal slurries for time-resolved studies routine and robust within 5 years at XFELs and storage rings like Diamond’s VMXi and I24 beamlines. Many of our research and development efforts include large, international collaborations with significant interactions at the University of Oxford and other UK universities, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and XFEL facilities in the USA, Japan, Korea, and Europe.

Depending upon qualifications and experience we anticipate that our PDRA positions will be offered as three-year posts with an option for a fourth year.

The specific skills we seek for this vacancy include:

  • Emphasis on enzymes mechanisms;
  • Experience in anaerobic manipulations and/or enzymes that activate O2 are beneficial
  • Design and/or perform biophysics-based research and development that may include anaerobic sample manipulations, steady-state and/or transient enzyme kinetics, various types of spectroscopies, serial crystallography methods using microcrystal slurries, standard macromolecular crystallography;
  • You may have XFEL experience in time-resolved structural biology and you will participate in R&D efforts in time-resolved structural biology experiments at Diamond Light Source and at XFEL sources such as LCLS, SACLA, SwissFEL, PAL XFEL, and the European XFEL. You will also contribute to the R&D activities in dynamic structural biology and interact with the XFEL Hub at Diamond as well as the structural biology community at Diamond (including macromolecular crystallography, microscopy, and e-BIC).

In addition to the above, as a PDRA you will:

  • Report to the Principal Scientist at the XFEL Hub at Diamond Light Source (;
  • Contribute to the research and development (R&D) activities in dynamic structural biology of (metallo)enzymes that make or degrade antibiotics;
  • Must be available to travel within the UK and abroad, including periods of time requiring several overnight absences at one or more XFEL facilities;
  • Participate in R&D efforts in time-resolved structural biology for applications at synchrotron X-ray sources, XFEL sources such as LCLS, SACLA, SwissFEL PAL XFEL, and the European XFEL, and potentially in cryo-EM at eBIC;
  • Contribute to the analysis of and publication of scientific results in international peer-review journals;
  • Keep up to date with the latest results and evolving methods for structural biology at leading synchrotron and XFEL sources, especially with respect to sample delivery and/or time-resolved strategies;
  • Dependable participation in large, international collaborative teams with diverse backgrounds.

Other information

Where relevant, and possible for the role, we will consider flexible working arrangements and secondment opportunities.

Diamond attract talented individuals from around the world and currently employ 39 different nationalities.  Reflecting trends in our sector we employ more men than women (78% men and 22% women as at 5 April 2019). Therefore, in accordance with law and good practice, we particularly welcome applications from suitably qualified women.

If you are disabled and would like to be considered under the Guaranteed Interview Scheme, please let us know via the online application process.

Diamond are members of the Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion and we have achieved the Athena SWAN Bronze award and Disability Confident Level One.

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