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PDRA, Mass Spectrometric Instrumentation

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The Rosalind Franklin Institute (the Franklin) is a new national Research Centre, funded by the UK government through UK Research and Innovation, dedicated to bringing about transformative changes in life science through interdisciplinary research and technology. The Biological Mass Spectrometry theme focuses on the development of new instrumentation for mass spectrometric imaging (MSI) allowing the visualisation of molecular distributions at subcellular level and the de-novo structure elucidation of chemical species detected by MSI techniques. The ultimate goal of the Theme is to understand the working mechanism of molecular interaction networks in health and disease and define novel diagnostic and prognostic targets for next generation healthcare.

The project will develop a stigmatic TOF-SIMS ion microscope for simultaneous MSI of 0.05 mm2 to 1 cm2 tissue surface areas. The stigmatic MSI experiment operated by Prof Mark Brouard’s team at the University of Oxford preserves the spatial distribution of desorbed ions and detects them using an event-triggered and position-sensitive detector, eliminating the time-consuming surface scanning traditionally used by MSI instruments. The postholder will modify the existing instrument by adding various ion guns for SIMS operation. The primary ion beams will include a C60 beam and a multiply-charged water cluster beam. The postholder is expected to design the SIMS setup with particular emphasis on the defocusing of the ion beam to achieve an even ion flux distribution across the surface area of interest. The project will also include the development of associated instrument control and data acquisition elements and their integration into the main instrument control platform. 

The project is a collaboration with an industrial partner, with whom the postholder will work extensively on the development of a gas cluster bunching system. The postholder will be expected to spend a significant amount of time at their facilities in Hampshire. The post reports to Prof Mark Brouard, Prof Claire Vallance, and Dr Michael Burt at the University of Oxford and the Leads for Biological Mass Spectrometry (Profs Josephine Bunch and Zoltan Takats) at the Rosalind Franklin Institute.

This is essentially a post-doctoral research associate role, however we may be able to consider senior post-doctoral research associates, depending on their skills and experience. The duration of the post is 18 months' fixed-term contract.



You will:

• Embrace the primary aim of the role, namely developing the stigmatic SIMS imaging instrument module

• Collaborate with our industrial partner and national/international experts in SIMS to develop ion guns and associated ion optics amenable for the analysis of larger systems

• Work with software engineers at the Franklin, Oxford and our industrial partner to develop a robustly engineered instrument control platform that allows the seamless integration of stigmatic SIMS into the main instrument control environment

• Work with MS experts and structural biologists from the Member Institutions and broader UK user community to understand the broader context of the application

• Develop the scientific scope of the project, formulate relevant research questions, conduct individual research, analysing detailed and complex qualitative and/or quantitative data from a variety of sources, and generate original ideas by building on existing concepts

• Publish research articles in leading academic journals.

• Present findings at national and international meetings/conferences.

• Take a formal or informal role (as required) in the supervision of research students, including recruitment, mentorship and career development.

• Raise research funds through grant applications, and manage own area of a larger research budget

• Participate in and support the public engagement and widening access activities of the Franklin

• Any other duties that come up in the normal running of the facility and that can be reasonably requested of the post-holder.

Selection criteria


• A post-graduate qualification, or equivalent experience, in Chemistry, Physics, Engineering, Biomolecular Science, or related subjects.

• Experience in mechanical instrument design

• Experience in ion trajectory simulations

• A demonstrated aptitude for programming, software engineering and user interface design

• Experience with developing routinely usable methods

• Experience with devising research questions and developing strategies to address them

• Ability to work both independently and as part of a team

• Strong organisational and communication skills.

• Ability to travel regularly for working at the industrial partner’s facilities

• Experience with project management and demonstrated ability to deliver agreed milestones in a timely manner, adapt to changing priorities

• Ability to discuss and coordinate experiments with a variety of colleagues from different disciplines


• Expert knowledge of secondary ion mass spectrometry

• Experience in molecular imaging technologies

• Knowledge of computational chemistry and cheminformatics

• Experience with general analytical and structure elucidation techniques such as chromatography, NMR or electrophoresis etc.

Closing date: 27th January 2020, 9:00am

Area: Scientific

Location: Oxford/Eastleigh

Type of Post: Full Time

Salary: Competitive


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