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Job id: 072565. Salary: Grade 6: £42,405 - £49,785 per annum, including London Weighting Allowance.

Posted: 02 August 2023. Closing date: 24 September 2023.

Business unit: Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine. Department: Imaging Chemistry & Biology.

Contact details: Tim Witney.

Location: St Thomas’ Hospital. Category: Research.

Job description

We are seeking an enthusiastic, proactive, and collaborative biologist to join Dr Witney’s Group in the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences, King’s College London. You will join a dynamic and successful molecular imaging Team with access to both cutting-edge instrumentation for preclinical imaging and world-renowned expertise. Together, we are developing next-generation whole-body imaging tools for cancer diagnosis, monitoring of therapeutic response, and detection of drug resistance (see for more details).  

Working in collaboration with medicinal chemists and radiochemists, the successful candidate will use radionuclide-based molecular imaging and radionuclide therapy for the detection and treatment of drug-resistant cancer (‘theranostics’). We have successfully developed a library of theranostic agents that selectively target biomarkers of treatment failure. You will lead the biological evaluation for one of our theranostics programmes using a range of advanced mouse models of cancer (syngeneic, genetically engineered and patient-derived). The project will use molecular biology, protein biochemistry, and enzyme assays to further characterise these agents and understand their mechanism of action. You will further optimise radionuclide therapy scheduling to exploit the vulnerabilities of drug-resistant cancer. Support will be provided for you to take the project in new and interesting directions. The post is in collaboration with Apollo Therapeutics

You will manage your own research and administrative activities, within guidelines provided by the PI and in collaboration with senior colleagues, and contribute to wider project development and potential commercialisation. You will determine the most appropriate methodologies to test hypotheses and identify suitable alternatives if technical problems arise, as well as select, follow, and present scientific data from a variety of sources. You will contribute to discussions and share research findings with colleagues in partner institutions, and research groups. 

You must have a track record of research achievement (through peer-reviewed publications) and hold a PhD in cancer biology, biochemistry, molecular imaging, or similar. Experience with small animal imaging and radioactivity handling is necessary. We are dedicated to supporting the successful candidate’s career through assistance with Fellowship applications, networking events, and attendance at international conferences. 

This post will be offered on an a fixed-term contract to 28 February 2026 

This is a full-time post - 100% full time equivalent

Key responsibilities

  • To plan and conduct a high-quality programme of research in the biological evaluation of novel radiotracers for cancer imaging.  
  • Determine the time course of uptake, efflux and stability of novel radiotracers developed as part of this programme of work, both in cells and in mouse models of cancer. 
  • To evaluate the mechanism of uptake and retention of novel PET radiotracers in tumour cells through gene overexpression, knockdown and subsequent evaluation by flow cytometry and/or immunoblotting. 
  • To perform a range of biological and enzyme assays, as required. 
  • To develop subcutaneous and orthotopic animal models of human cancer. 
  • To perform small animal dynamic and static PET/CT imaging, following the injection of radiotracers via the tail vein. 
  • To optimise dosing regimens for radionuclide therapies to maximise tumour response to these treatments.  
  • To monitor tumour response to associated radionuclide therapies. 
  • To monitor steady-state tumour metabolites pre- and post-therapy (training and support provided). 
  • To provide information required for the quality assurance of laboratory analyses undertaken. 
  • To draft scientific presentations and publications. 
  • To attend all research group and wider Departmental group meetings, as directed by the PI.     
  • To assist in grant writing with the PI.  
  • To perform systematic reviews of the literature. 
  • In consultation with the PI, to contribute to the training and laboratory supervision of junior staff. 
  • Participate in teaching activities if the candidate so wishes. 
  • Assist in maintaining good laboratory discipline and safety practices, and set a professional example to others. 
  • Take responsibility as part of the team for maintaining specific items of equipment and training others in their use. 
  • Maintain accurate records of experimental work. 

The above list of responsibilities may not be exhaustive, and the post holder will be required to undertake such tasks and responsibilities as may reasonably be expected within the scope and grading of the post.  

Skills, knowledge, and experience 

Essential criteria  

1.      PhD awarded (or soon to be awarded*) in cancer biology, biochemistry, molecular imaging, or similar 

2.      Strong track record of publications in the field of cancer research 

3.      Previous experience with radionuclide-based molecular imaging and/or radionuclide therapy 

4.      Excellent inter-personal skills with an ability to work co-operatively in a multidisciplinary setting, working closely with biologists, chemists and radiochemists  

5.      Resourceful, creative and able to act on own initiative  

6.      Meticulous attention to detail in experimental design and execution 

7.      Team player with commitment to both lead and assist in research projects as appropriate  

8.      Expert knowledge and laboratory skills required for the molecular characterisation of tumour cells 

9.      Experience working with animal models of cancer 

10.    Gather, analyse, and present scientific data from a variety of sources 

11.    Possess excellent written and verbal communication skills  

12.    Maintain accurate and up-to-date records of all findings, and to make these available to other members of the team 

Desirable criteria

1.      Research experience in the field of cancer metabolism 

2.      Ability to genetically manipulate and stably transduce tumour cells  

Please note that this is a PhD level role but candidates who have submitted their thesis and are awaiting award of their PhDs will be considered. In these circumstances the appointment will be made at Grade 5, spine point 30 with the title of Research Assistant. Upon confirmation of the award of the PhD, the job title will become Research Associate and the salary will increase to Grade 6. 

Further information

Whilst we can accommodate virtual interviews, our preference is for all interviews to be held in-person. Interviews will be accompanied by a tour of our research facilities and an opportunity to discuss career development, our commitment to research culture, and research projects with current members of the Group.   

King’s recently published the Climate & Sustainability Action Plan, which outlines 13 key impact areas to guide the university’s approach and tangible steps to reach net-zero carbon by 2030. This plan was shaped by over 350 staff, students and alumni in the Climate Action Network (CAN).   

At the School of Biomedical Engineering & Imaging Sciences we take our role in minimising the negative and maximising the positive impacts seriously and seek to embed sustainability at every level within the department.   

One way to get involved and support to embed sustainability is through participation in the Sustainability Champions programme.  

Find out more about sustainability at King’s here. More information about the sustainable and responsible policies at King’s, here.