Postdoctoral Scientist

Closes: 19 February 2024

Contract length: FTC until 30/09/2025. Possibility of contract extending, subject to funding

Salary: £37,000 - £38,000

About the Role

The post-holder will be a pivotal member of an international research team funded by an award from the Innovate UK SBRI: Vaccine development for potential epidemic diseases stage 1.

The project titled ‘A bivalent vaccine to reduce the risk of Nipah virus outbreaks’ aims to further the development of a dual use vaccine to protect pigs against Nipah virus (NiV) infection and transmission thereby reducing the risk to public health. The vaccine will also reduce the major risk NiV poses to both the nascent developing pig industries, as well as to the livelihoods of poor livestock keepers in low- and middle-income countries.

The project also aims to develop a companion ‘penside’ diagnostic test to enable the discrimination of infection in vaccinated animals and therefore provide an important new tool to aid the monitoring, control, and elimination of NiV from pig populations reservoirs in South and Southeast Asia.

The project is a collaboration between The Pirbright Institute and partners in the UK and Germany.

The post-holder will be responsible for delivery of two key studies conducted within Pirbright’s high biocontainment facilities. The first will be to determine whether recombinant live attenuated pseudorabies virus (PrV) expressing membrane bound NiV glycoproteins is more immunogenic than a previously tested vector expressing soluble NiV glycoproteins. The second study will determine whether the most immunogenic PrV-NiV vaccine candidate provides protection against pseudorabies comparable to the gold standard PrV Bartha K61 vaccine. The post-holder will support activities relating to the development of a companion DIVA lateral flow test, which will involve the production and purification of recombinant NiV proteins and the evaluation of their antigenicity. They will additionally produce and supply virus to a project partner to evaluate the stabilization of the PrV-NiV vaccine by ensilication.

Prof Simon Graham leads the consortium and will line manage the post holder.

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.

Main duties and responsibilities:

  • Responsible for evaluating the immunogenicity and efficacy of vaccine candidates in pigs, which will include:
  • Rescue and in vitro characterization of recombinant live attenuated PrV expressing NiV glycoproteins.
  • Preparation of vaccine stocks, and coordination with Pirbright Animal Services Team for immunizations, virus challenge, and sample collection.
  • Analysis of T cell responses to vaccination by ELISpot and flow cytometric assays.
  • Analysis of antibody responses to vaccination by virus and pseudovirus neutralization assays and ELISAs.
  • Contribute to the development of new techniques and methods for analysis of vaccine responses, as required.
  • Responsible for working as part of a research consortium, which will include:
  • Production and provision of materials (purified recombinant NiV proteins, sera, and monoclonal antibodies) to support the development of a dual antigen DIVA lateral flow test.
  • Production and provision of PrV to support the evaluation of vaccine thermostabilisation by ensilication.
  • Communicating progress and data at monthly consortium meetings and quarterly monitoring meetings with the funder.
  • Disseminate results through writing high quality peer-reviewed manuscripts and presenting at scientific meetings.
  • Developing and maintaining documentation associated with the health, safety, and biosecurity of the research to preserve a safe working environment.
  • Assist with lab management (ordering, looking after equipment, sample inventories)
  • Co-supervision and training of an intern, and as appropriate, other group members, students and visitors.
  • Due to the nature of the work we do, all successful applicants will be required to go through a comprehensive screening process including reference and qualification checks, financial and security clearances.

Essential/Desirable requirements


  • A PhD or equivalent in a relevant branch of biosciences
  • An excellent record of research productivity, relative to experience
  • Experience in immunology including analysis of T cell e.g., flow cytometry, and antibody responses e.g. ELISAs and virus neutralisation assays
  • Experience of recombinant protein expression and purification
  • Evidence of excellent oral and written communication skills


  • Experience of vaccine R&D
  • Experience of working with large animals
  • Experience of working with viruses
  • Experience of working in a high biocontainment environment
  • Experience of working in international research consortia

More Details & Apply Here