Research Associate in Computational Biophysics

UCL Department / Division      Physics and Astronomy
Grade      7
Hours      Full Time
Salary (inclusive of London allowance)      £34,635 – £41,864 per annum

We study biological self-assembly, in healthy and diseased states, using computational methods rooted in soft matter physics and statistical mechanics. Current projects in the lab include investigating amyloid aggregation, protein mechanosensitivity, and cell reshaping by active filaments. We typically use coarse-grained mesoscopic simulations (Monte Carlo and Molecular Dynamics simulations), in and out of thermodynamic equilibrium [1,2].

The lab is looking to hire a Postdoctoral Research Associate to join us on several projects related to functional protein organisation. The particular focus will be on understanding the hierarchical organisation of protein filaments and networks in the extracellular matrix (ECM). The ECM is a key regulator of cell and tissue function, whose architectures are frequently severely altered in cancerous tumours and due to ageing [3,4]. In this project we will investigate the multistage assembly of ECM proteins into dynamic three-dimensional fibrils, fibres, and networks, which is thought to include nucleation, elongation, bundling, branching, and higher organisation. The aim is to identify how the biophysical properties of key ECM proteins are translated into specific ECM architectures, both under quiescent conditions, and when driven out of thermodynamic equilibrium.

The project will be carried out in collaboration with the experimental groups of Prof. Melinda Duer at the University of Cambridge and of Dr. Patrick Mesquida at the Kings College London. The experimental measurements (AFM, KFM, and TEM imaging of healthy and diseased ECMs) will be used to parametrise our model, after which the model is expected to make experimentally-testable predictions.

The position will be based in the Department of Physics and Astronomy and the Institute for the Physics of Living Systems (IPLS) at UCL. IPLS is a dynamic cross-faculty institute, with a goal to promote research at the interface of physics and biology, and foster regular interactions between theorists and experimentalist.

The position is for up to 20 months in the first instance, starting as soon as possible, preferably by 1 April 2018. Deadline for application: 20 December 2017. Highly committed candidates are encouraged to contact Andela.

Relevant References:[1] A Saric et al, PNAS 111, 17869 (2014). [2] A Saric et al, Nature Physics 12, 874 (2016). [3] JK Mouw et al, Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol 12, 771 (2014). [4] M Egeblad et al, Curr Opin Cell Biol 22, 697 (2010).

Key Requirements

The successful applicant is expected to hold a PhD degree in Physics, Chemistry, Quantitative Biology, Applied Mathematics, or equivalent, and have an expertise in Soft Matter Physics and/or Biophysics. Strong background in Molecular Dynamics or Monte Carlo simulations, and/or protein structure and sequence analysis, is desirable. Candidates should also have excellent written and verbal communications, and are expected to work closely with our experimental collaborators.

Appointment at Grade 7 is dependent upon having been awarded a PhD; if this is not the case, initial appointment will be at research assistant Grade 6B (salary £30,316-£31,967 per annum) with payment at Grade 7 being backdated to the date of final submission of the PhD thesis.

Further Details

To apply for the vacancy and to access the job description and person specification, please click on the  ‘Apply Now’ button at the bottom of the page here.

If you have any queries regarding the application process, please contact Jas Gill-Thind.

Informal enquiries regarding the vacancy are welcome.