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Job id: 085873. Salary: £43,205 per annum, including London Weighting Allowance.

Posted: 06 March 2024. Closing date: 23 April 2024.

Business unit: Faculty of Life Sciences & Medicine. Department: Department of Infectious Diseases.

Contact details: Charlotte Odendall. charlotte.odendall@kcl.ac.uk

Location: Guy's Campus. Category: Research.

Job Description

The Odendall Laboratory studies both sides of interactions between the host and enteric bacterial pathogens. We seek to understand the interplay between the bacteria Salmonella and Shigella and type I and III interferons (IFNs).

Type I and III IFNs are induced, along with other cytokines, upon detection of microbes. They have a direct effect on the tissue, inducing hundreds of interferon-stimulated genes (ISGs), with diverse antimicrobial functions. While the functions of type I/III IFNs in antiviral immunity are extensively studied, if/how IFNs and their ISGs protect against bacterial infection is poorly understood.

We have recently reported that bacterial factors translocated by the Shigella type III secretion system (T3SS) block IFN receptor signalling (Alphonse et al, Cell, 2022), and the induction if ISGs. This suggests the importance of this pathway in host defence against bacteria. Indeed, IFNs were protective against Shigella infection in cellular and animal models of infection.

Similarly, we have found that IFN restricted intracellular infection with Salmonella, an enteric pathogen with similarities with Shigella. In particular, IFN affected the subcellular localisation of Salmonella, preventing its access to the cytosol, where the bacteria normally replicate. Through an ISG screen, we identified a few key host proteins that may directly mediate the effects of IFN in epithelial cells. Additionally, preliminary screens have revealed that Salmonella may have also evolved effectors that target IFN signalling pathways.

This exciting MRC-funded project will determine the molecular mechanisms through which IFNs and their ISGs affects the Salmonella intracellular lifecycle in cellular models of infection. The stability of the Salmonella containing vacuole will be visualised by live cell imaging. The transcriptome of cytosolic and vacuolar bacteria will be analysed in the presence or absence of IFN via RNA sequencing.

The successful candidate will have a PhD in microbiology, cellular biology, cellular microbiology or immunology. They will be hardworking with a proven track record of publication as a primary author of scientific paper(s) in well-regarded scientific journals, and have a particular interest in tackling fundamental questions regarding host-pathogen interactions.

This post will be offered on an a fixed-term contract until February 2026.

This is a full-time  post.

Key responsibilities

  • Develop a cutting-edge research project aiming to elucidate the functions of IFN and their ISGs in Salmonella infection  
  • Work semi-independently and collaboratively to develop knowledge of the literature in the subject area; design and control experiments for the above project; maintain accurate records of performed experiments and conclusions in line with the group’s expected standards; and meet agreed upon deadlines
  • Communicate research findings via drafting of publications arising from this work; and preparation and delivery of presentations about relevant research findings within the team and within and outside of the Department.
  • Handle laboratory equipment safely and considerately, assist with general laboratory upkeep, report safety issues instantaneously, and comply with the requirements of the Health and Safety regulations.
  • Contribute to the day-to-day training and supervision of junior staff and undergraduate and/or graduate students within the Team (as appropriate) 
  • Initiate purchase of consumable items and minor equipment within budgetary limits and in consultation with the PI. 
  • Positively support equality of opportunity and equity of treatment to colleagues and students in accordance with the College Equal Opportunities policy 

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

Extensive experience in microscopy will be required. Experience in innate immunity or cellular microbiology will be desirable but not required.

Essential criteria

  1. PhD in microbiology, cellular biology, cellular microbiology or immunology  
  2. Expertise with microscopy and live imaging
  3. Experience with tissue culture
  4. Expertise in biochemistry
  5. Expertise in molecular biology (especially DNA/RNA extraction and manipulation)
  6. Academic integrity and rigor
  7. Ability to work both collaboratively and independently
  8. Excellent communication skills
  9. Excellent note-keeping skills
  10. Honest and accurate reporting
  11. Experience supervising students

Desirable criteria

  1. Experience with Flow cytometry
  2. Experience with bacterial infection models
  3. Microbiology expertise

* 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

Applicants should include a CV and a Cover Letter, outlining their suitability for the post and how they meet the Essential/Desirable criteria.   

Shortlisted candidates will be invited for an online or in-person interview. This will entail a research presentation, and discussion of the prospective work. Interviews are likely to be held 3-4 weeks after the application deadline. Candidates invited for interview will be notified as soon as possible.

Informal inquiries are strongly encouraged. Please do not hesitate to contact Dr Charlotte Odendall (charlotte.odendall@kcl.ac.uk) for further details.