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Research Assistant (Africa)

Department of Clinical Research

Salary:  £34,854 per annum, inclusive.
Closing Date:  Wednesday 27 November 2019
Reference:  ITD-CRD-2019-35

We are seeking to appoint a Research Assistant to work with on a project entitled “Translational Research to Reduce Mortality from CNS Infections in Africa”. The project is directed by Professor Joe Jarvis, who is based full-time in Gaborone, Botswana. The project team also includes an Assistant Professor and a Clinical Research Fellow.

Infections of the central nervous system (CNS) are major causes of mortality in low- and middle-income countries. In sub-Saharan Africa CNS infections are a leading cause of death in HIV-infected adults, accounting for up to 30% of early mortality in ART programmes. Detailed understanding of the aetiology of adult meningitis in this setting is of critical importance to inform diagnostic pathways and treatment strategies. Novel affordable point-of-care diagnostic tests for meningitis, with the ability to detect multiple pathogens simultaneously, are urgently needed to facilitate diagnosis, screening and prevention strategies. Effective treatments are required to improve patient outcomes. The project seeks to improve outcomes of adult meningitis in high HIV-prevalence African settings. Specific objectives are to:

  1. Develop a meningitis surveillance network using enhanced molecular diagnostics and metagenomic sequencing to describe meningitis aetiology, and determine the clinical impact of concurrent CNS pathogens;
  2. Validate novel multiplex and rapid meningitis diagnostic technologies;
  3. Evaluate novel short-course liposomal amphotericin B based treatment for HIV-associated CM in a multicentre phase-III randomized controlled trial (the AMBITION-cm study);
  4. Investigate host genetic susceptibility to cryptococcal meningitis performing HLA genotyping, KIR genotyping, and a genome wide association study (GWAS) with linked immune phenotyping in a cohort of HIV-infected individuals with CM and controls.

The proposed research builds on ongoing meningitis surveillance and diagnostic studies in Botswana, and is closely aligned to an ongoing EDCTP / Joint Global Health Trials funded Phase III cryptococcal meningitis treatment trial in Botswana, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Uganda (the AMBITION-cm study - http://blogs.lshtm.ac.uk/ambition/). The research findings will enable diagnostic and treatment strategies across Africa to be updated, leading to significant improvements in outcomes from meningitis. The results of the trial have the potential to provide a highly effective treatment option for cryptococcal meningitis that is practical and accessible in Africa with the potential to prevent many thousands of deaths. In addition, advances in the understanding of the pathophysiology of cryptococcal infection will inform future patient-targeted immune modulation therapy.

The post-holder will be recruited to undertake laboratory aspects of the studies and will be based at one of the AMBITION study sites in Botswana, Zimbabwe or Malawi, with occasional travel to London (for between one to three months per year). It is a requirement that the post-holder register for a PhD at LSHTM, which will be fully funded as part of the post. The successful candidate will also be expected to support the clinical and laboratory teams in cross-cutting activities between the NIHR funded project, the AMBITION-cm clinical trial, and related ongoing projects. There will be substantial scope for the post-holder to perform challenging laboratory experiments and statistical analyses, to develop analytical skills, and to develop and answer novel research questions within the overall project and through further research grant applications.

We are therefore seeking to recruit a laboratory scientist with a strong interest in infectious diseases, experience in molecular diagnostics for infectious diseases, experience in running immunological assays (such as Luminex and flow-cytometry), interest in developing skills in transcriptomics, genomics, and bioinformatics, the ability to work independently with remote supervision, and a meticulous approach to research. The post-holder will be responsible for the day-to-day laboratory activities of the NIHR meningitis projects, overseen by the London-based Assistant Professor, and for delivery of all aspects of evaluation, sample testing and analysis that take place during the study. 

The post-holder will have a Masters-level qualification in microbiology, biotechnology, immunology or related subject; relevant experience working as a laboratory scientist in an African clinical research setting; experience of running immunological assays including ELISAs and flow cytometry; experience of molecular research techniques such as DNA extraction and PCR; experience of working on GCP compliant studies. Further particulars are included in the attached job description.

This full-time post is funded by the UK National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) for a period of 36 months, starting on or shortly after 1 January 2020. The post will be on the Academic Grade 5 (Research Assistant) scale, with a starting salary of £34,854 (inclusive of London Weighting). The post will be subject to the LSHTM terms and conditions of service. Annual leave entitlement is 30 working days per year, pro rata for part time staff. In addition to this there are discretionary “Director’s Days”. Membership of the Pension Scheme is available. 

Applications should be made online via our website at jobs.lshtm.ac.uk. Online applications will be accepted by the automated system until 10pm on the closing date. Any queries regarding the application process may be addressed to jobs@lshtm.ac.uk.

The supporting statement section should set out how your qualifications, experience and training meet each of the selection criteria. Please provide one or more paragraphs addressing each criterion. The supporting statement is an essential part of the selection process and thus a failure to provide this information will mean that the application will not be considered. An answer to any of the criteria such as “Please see attached CV” will not be considered acceptable.

Please note that if you are shortlisted and are unable to attend on the interview date it may not be possible to offer you an alternative date. 

Further details:    Job Description    
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The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine is committed to being an equal opportunities employer.


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