Queen’s University Belfast

Research Fellow – Systems Biology & Disease Models                                         

Ref: 20/108408

Institute for Global Food Security

School of Biological Sciences

We are recruiting for a Research Fellow in Systems Biology and Disease Models who will work as part of Prof Gary Hardiman’s research group. The long-term objective of our research is to define the genetic architecture of OUD in a rodent model and uncover new insights into this disease pathophysiology. To accomplish this, we are using a rat behavioural model of excessive opioid intake that exhibits both face and construct validity for dysregulated drug intake associated and opiate dependence.

This project will employ advanced behavioural models to screen outbred rats for vulnerability or resistance to the development of compulsive opiate self-administration at two distinct geographical research sites in the USA and Italy. High-throughput (HT) genetic analyses will uncover variants associated with these behavioural phenotypes, and integrative genomic studies will confirm the functional significance of the gene variants.

This project will perform an integrated Genomic Characterization. The Research Fellow will test the hypothesis that transcriptomic regulation of these variants in defined brain regions (amygdala, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens and ventral tegmental area) results in functional differences that are associated with substance abuse. The successful candidate will examine the functional impact of the genetic variants. The genomic impact will be assessed via RNA sequencing to assess gene expression and map expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs). Chromosome conformation capture (3C) will be used to physically link an eQTL with its target gene, assigning causality to a variant and its regulated gene.

The successful candidate will also be supported by the Faculty Postdoctoral Development Centre as part of a wider Queen’s offering which provides outstanding support to researchers. 

The successful candidate must have:

• Have or be about to obtain a relevant PhD (e.g. in genomics, molecular biology, neuroscience)

• At least 3 years recent relevant research experience to include:

o Experience using RNA sequencing to assess gene expression and map expression quantitative trait loci (eQTLs)

o Experience with using a cryostat to generate tissue sections from defined brain regions, e.g. (amygdala, hippocampus, prefrontal cortex, nucleus accumbens and ventral tegmental area) 

Salary:  £33,797 per annum

This post is available for 12 months

Closing date:  Monday 30 November 2020

Anticipated interview date: Tuesday 15 December 2020

The School of Biological Sciences is part of the Faculty of Medicine, Health and Life Sciences. It is made up of three research disciplines: Ecosystems Biology & Sustainability, Food Safety & Nutrition, and Microbes & Pathogen Biology. 

The School aims to enhance the way we use technology in research, food security, microbiology, ecosystem biology, sustainability and many other related areas. The School provides research programmes in areas spanning from basic biochemistry with applications in e.g. cancer research, all the way to the economic evaluation of ecosystem services and the retailing of food. We host a cutting edge scientific research team and contribute to genuine new discoveries and the development of new methods of practical use. Many staff within the School are also members of the Institute for Global Food Security GRI: the Institute is ranked No 1 in the UK for research intensity in Agriculture, Veterinary and Food Sciences (REF 2014). 

The Institute for Global Food Security (IGFS) is one of four Global Research Institutes at Queen’s and was established to address a key, international challenge, the future of the world’s food systems. Food and drink have become a global industry with many positive aspects – access, affordability, variety. Yet that industry is also faced with a number of conundrums:

• Soon there may not be enough food to feed a growing population

• The integrity of increasingly complex food supply chains is often compromised

• Deliberate food fraud is a growing crime

• Climate change throws up complications for the future of agriculture

Further information about the School, Institute and Group Leader can be found at https://www.qub.ac.uk/schools/SchoolofBiologicalSciences/



The University holds an Athena SWAN silver award and the School of Biological Sciences holds an Athena SWAN Gold Award in recognition of our work to support women in Science commitment and success in addressing gender equality, representation, progression and success for all our staff.

We are ranked 1st in the UK for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (Innovate UK), 9th in the UK for University facilities (Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2018) and 14th in the UK for research quality (Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2019).

Based in Belfast, a modern capital city, our beautiful campus is surrounded by abundant acres of parkland and is renowned as one of the safest and most affordable cities in the UK. There is an excellent range of local Schools from pre-nursery upwards and we are immensely proud of what our city and our University will offer you.

For full job details and essential/desirable criteria please refer to the candidate information link on our website by clicking apply. You must clearly demonstrate how you meet the criteria when you submit your application. For further information or assistance contact Resourcing Team via email on resourcing@qub.ac.uk

Fixed term contract posts are available for the stated period in the first instance but in particular circumstances may be renewed or made permanent subject to availability of funding

The University is committed to equality of opportunity and welcomes applications from all.

However, our employment monitoring data tells us that individuals from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities, people with a disability and those who identify as LGBT+ are currently under-represented at the University. Also protestants are currently under-represented in this category of work. As such, we particularly welcome applications from these individuals.

As you may be aware, Queen’s is recognised as one of the most diverse organisations in Northern Ireland. We are committed to ensuring our workplace is a safe, welcoming and inclusive place to work, which is why we subscribe to Equality Charter Marks such as Stonewall Workplace Equality Index, Diversity Charter Mark NI and Athena SWAN.

It is also why we have established award winning Staff Networks such as PRISM and iRise. These networks provide an opportunity for staff to meet in a friendly, informal way to support each other.  More details on all our networks can be found at https://www.qub.ac.uk/sites/StaffGateway/StaffNetworks/

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