Associate Researcher in Biological Imaging job with KINGS COLLEGE LONDON

job description
King’s College London, with its 200-year heritage, is today recognized as a leading research university in the world, ranked 7th in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework. We understand the need to transform the original thinking in daily application, encouraging curiosity to develop work that impacts society and global issues. King’s big names continue to change the world.

We have an exciting position for a qualified Research Associate to undertake breakthrough preclinical research funded by the British Heart Foundation at the School of Biomedical Engineering at St Thomas’ Hospital (STH). The project will take place in collaboration with the Molecular Imaging Center in Turin, the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney, the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute in Melbourne, Australia and the Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares Carlos III (CNIC) in Madrid.

Research aims to detect high-risk coronary atherosclerotic plaques by identifying dysfunctional elastin synthesis and/or degradation, first in mouse and porcine models of atherosclerosis, then in patients with coronary artery disease . The project will use and further develop, in collaboration with chemists, a recently developed tropoelastin-specific MRI probe; use advanced MRI protocols and techniques of molecular biology and ex vivo analysis to determine whether: (i) molecular MRI of tropoelastin can distinguish between high-risk and stable atherosclerotic plaque in both murine and porcine models; and (ii) whether the tropoelastin-specific probe allows the differentiation between high-risk plaque and stable plaque in patients with coronary artery disease and (iii) decipher the biological role of dysfunctional elastogenesis in the development of atherosclerotic plaque in high risk. This study will answer the clinically important question of whether MRI can selectively identify high-risk coronary plaque and guide treatment aimed at reducing the risk of myocardial infarction in a precision medicine approach.

Located in the heart of London, King’s is the hub of a global network of strong academic links and collaborations, with prestigious international partnerships within and across disciplines – scientific and medical, social and creative. King’s invests in the highest caliber of talent to move the university forward to realize its greatest potential. The best from the UK and around the world are invited to join King’s. We seek a strong commitment to teaching and research, to push the boundaries of knowledge, influence the future and create lasting impact.

This is full time – 35 hours per week, 3 year fixed term.

Main responsibilities
The position is suitable for chemists, biochemists and biomedical scientists, interested in the synthesis and characterization of molecular imaging probes suitable for both MRI and PET molecular imaging of atherosclerosis wishing to obtain research training towards an academic career or research. You will have a variety of responsibilities, including designing imaging probes, synthesizing, purifying, labeling and physicochemical characterization of probes, and assisting with MRI and PET scans of animals. You will also be responsible for data management, maintaining complete and accurate study files and you will be required to present results in various formats to different audiences and write manuscripts. You may also have the opportunity to participate in other preclinical imaging studies in vascular disease, including heart failure and deep vein thrombosis, to examine the merits of new contrast agents and MRI protocols. .
The successful candidate will be closely supervised by Prof. René Botnar and Dr. Alkystis Phinikaridou from the School of Biomedical Engineering and Imaging Sciences and will also collaborate with our partner institutions.

Main responsibilities and objectives of the position:
• Design and synthesis of new low molecular weight imaging agents.
• Peptide synthesis and peptide bioconjugation with DOTA chelators, including multimeric assemblies.
• Performed lanthanide chemistry to chelate lanthanides (gadolinium, europium) into DOTA-like chelators, followed by HPLC purification of probes for use in animals.
• Radiolabeling of imaging probes with 68Ga using DOTA or AAZTA peptides followed by HPLC purification for use in animals and humans.
• Physico-chemical characterization of probes using proton-NMRD experiments.
• HPLC, Mass-spec, 1H-NMRD analytical chemistry techniques for the synthesis and characterization of probes.
• Ex vivo biological and chemical analyzes of tissues; and statistical analyses; MRI of animals; analysis of MRI data; and assist in probe development.
• Manage data, maintain complete and accurate study records and be expected to present results in various formats to different audiences and write manuscripts.
• Achieve the above goals in a coordinated manner through effective teamwork and collaboration with colleagues.
• Contribute/support the work of the research team.
• Attend and, where appropriate, present research results and articles at internal and external academic meetings, seminars and conferences and contribute to the internal and external visibility of the Department.

The above list of responsibilities may not be exhaustive and the post holder will be required to undertake the duties and responsibilities reasonably expected within the scope and classification of the position.

Skills, knowledge and experience

Essential criteria

1. Nearly completed PhD or Masters in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biomedical Sciences, Pharmacology or similar
2. Experience in the design and synthesis of imaging probes (small molecular probes)
3. Experience with lanthanide chemistry and coordination chemistry applied to MRI and radiolabeled probes
4. Experience with peptide synthesis and bioconjugation techniques
5. Experience in HPLC, Mass-spec, 1H-NMRD analytical chemistry techniques for probe synthesis and characterization.
6. Present scientific research in the form of articles, posters and oral presentations
7. Work as part of a multidisciplinary research team, rely on others and support them effectively
8. Use of computers/software, database and documentary research
9. Excellent verbal and written communication skills

Desirable criteria

1. Experiment with binding assays (eg DELFIA) and ICP-MS to determine lanthanide concentrations.
2. Magnetic Resonance Imaging Experiment
3. Positron Emission Tomography Experiment

This position is subject to Disclosure and Barring Service and Occupational Health clearance.