Research Assistant 19P-51

Salary: Band C; From £27,355 with higher numeration depending on experience and qualifications.

Hours: 37 Hours Per Week

Contract Type: Fixed term/Full time

Contract Length: Fixed-term from 1st November 2019 for 30 months

Closing Date: 19 July 2019

Interview Date:

Job Reference: 19P-51

Research Assistant 19P-51

The Pirbright Institute

The Pirbright Institute delivers world-leading research to understand, predict, detect and respond to viral disease outbreaks. We study viruses of livestock that are endemic and exotic to the UK, including zoonotic viruses, by using the most advanced tools and technologies to understand host-pathogen interactions in animals and arthropod vectors. Our major strength in understanding the immune systems of livestock provides a platform to control current diseases and respond to emerging threats.

Our Institute is made up of a dynamic and vibrant community of staff covering a diverse set of chosen fields, backgrounds and experience. We all play a crucial role in furthering the Institute’s aspirations, advancing the frontiers of science and knowledge through our excellent scientific research, knowledge sharing and contribution; with a real focus in improving the world in which we live. Our outlook is always balanced by our strong sense of purpose, values and behaviours and an unwavering commitment to a ‘one Institute’ approach.


Organisation position and purpose  

The post-holder will be a pivotal member of the Mucosal Immunology group and will support activities funded by the Institute Strategic Grants awarded by the BBSRC and the Medical Research Council.

The aim of this programme of work is to develop broadly cross-reactive vaccines that will protect humans against influenza, even in the event of a pandemic. We will produce viral-vectored vaccines expressing NP+M1 with NA, and test the protective efficacy of different routes of immunisation in influenza-exposed pigs, to mimic the effect of human pre-exposure to influenza virus. We will study T and B cell responses in detail in different tissues to determine the effect of route of vaccination and attempt to identify correlates of protection. Pigs are genetically, immunologically, physiologically and anatomically more similar to humans than small animals  and an excellent model for human influenza. The project will require a scientist with training in a wide range of immunological and virological techniques such as FACS analysis, ELISA, ELISPOT, microneutralisation, virus propagation and plaque assays.  

This project represents an exciting opportunity to be part of a consortium comprising the Oxford Jenner and the Pirbright Institutes carrying out One Health research. It is suitable for virologists and/or immunologists with a keen interest in translational research for human and animal health. The post-holder will report to the Mucosal Immunology Group Leader. 


Main duties and responsibility

Responsible for conducting research into transmission, evolution and immunity to swine influenza viruses:

  • Assist with conducting pig influenza studies.
  • Analysis of B and T cell responses after influenza infection and/or immunisation (T and B cell ELISPOT, Flow cytometry, cell proliferation).
  • Assay of antibody responses (microneutralisation, ELISA, HAI, ADCC).
  • Preparation of virus challenge material and quantification of virus load in tissues (PCR and plaque assays).                                                                                                                                  

Responsible for working as part of a research team, which will include:

  • Communicating progress and data, including presentations at internal and external meetings
  • Assist with lab management (ordering, looking after equipment, sample inventories)
  • Supervision of students and staff.            

This job description is only an outline of the tasks, responsibilities and outcomes required of the role. The jobholder will carry out any other duties as may be reasonably required by his/her line manager. The job description and personal specification may be reviewed on an ongoing basis in accordance with the changing needs of The Pirbright Institute.

All employees shall actively participate in the Institute-wide quality assurance system in conjunction with the Institute’s Quality Manager. Employees are also expected to safeguard their own health and safety and security by following policies and all employees are responsible for the Health and Safety and security of staff under their management.


Personal specification

Time management, reliability under pressure, decision making/problem solving skills, action-oriented, entrepreneurial, agile, ethical/credible, inspiring, creative, influential, collaborative, emotionally intelligent, diplomatic, results driven, passionate, engaging and recognising.


Specific requirements


  • Relevant Life science degree as a minimum (MSc, Master or higher) in Molecular Biology, Virology, Immunology or other science related field
  • Relevant bench experience in a recognised R&D environment.
  • Evidence of good oral and written communication skills including the ability to communicate effectively within a team
  • Previous experience in immunology and/or virology research



  • Experience of flow cytometry and other immunological techniques
  • Experience of supervision of graduate students
  • Experience of working in a laboratory environment 
  • Evidence of networking skills with the ability to build effective collaborative relationships 


What we offer

  • Generous Group Personal Pension Scheme and life cover (subject to age and earnings)
  • 25 days annual leave per annum, pro rata, plus 10.5 public and privilege days
  • Pirbright gym with subsidised membership
  • Pirbright social club
  • Pirbright Lifestyle Hub (employee discount site)
  • Cycle to work
  • Subsidised staff restaurant
  • Childcare allowance
  • Free onsite parking
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