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Postdoctoral Researcher (Wilkinson Lab)

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral Researcher to join the Laboratory of Professor Barrie Wilkinson at the John Innes Centre based in Norwich, UK.


Natural products have formed the basis for the development of almost half of all pharmaceuticals and over 80% of all antibiotics in clinical use today. A common barrier to the development of natural products as therapeutic agents arises from the fact that the compounds nature provides do not necessarily possess the level of activity or properties required of a product molecule, and further synthetic transformations are often necessary to generate the final optimised compound for medical applications.

In this project, we aim to combine new synthetic biology technologies and state-of-the art advancements in natural products bioengineering, directed evolution and biocatalysis to develop a single fermentation-based process that can deliver ‘non-natural’ products, obviating the need for any additional synthetic transformations. This ‘total biosynthesis’ technology can be applied to develop more cost effective, environmentally friendly and efficient single-step manufacture of a range of medically important antibiotics that would typically be produced by arduous multistep synthetic processes.

The role

 The position is part of a large £3.2 million project funded by BBSRC/Innovate UK and situated in the laboratory of Professor Barrie Wilkinson at JIC in collaboration with GlaxoSmithKline and the Manchester Institute for Biotechnology. The project aims to engineer new enzymes and biosynthetic pathways required for production of medically important antibiotics in Streptomyces host strains. The project will involve the development of new approaches for engineering non-ribosomal peptide synthetase (NRPS) enzymes to create new assembly lines that can generate novel peptides. The new suite of enzymes will be introduced into an industrially optimised Streptomyces super-host strain to create new biosynthetic pathways that can deliver antibiotics which are urgently required to combat emerging antimicrobial resistance.

The ideal candidate

 The successful applicant will join a large interdisciplinary team of biologists and chemists and must hold a PhD or have equivalent postdoctoral experience in NRPS assembly line engineering. The ideal candidate will have knowledge of molecular microbiology and molecular genetics as well as manipulating biosynthetic gene clusters, gene knockouts and heterologous expression, particularly in Streptomyces and relevant bacterial strains. They should also have skills in microbial fermentation and bacterial cultivation.

Additional information

Salary on appointment will be within the range £31,250 to £31,800 per annum depending on qualifications and experience.  This post is for a contract of 30 months.

Please note this post does not meet UKVI requirements to provide Tier 2 visa sponsorship.

Further information and details of how to apply can be found here, or contact the Human Resources team on 01603 450462 or  quoting reference 1003637.

We are an equal opportunities employer, actively supporting inclusivity and diversity.  As a Disability Confident organisation, we guarantee to offer an interview to all disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for this vacancy. The John Innes Centre is also proud to hold a Gold Award from Athena SWAN and is a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme.

The closing date for applications will be 3 March 2019.  

The John Innes Centre is a registered charity (No. 223852) grant-aided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council and is an Equal Opportunities Employer.


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