Postdoctoral Scientist - Neurobiology

Closing Date
23 Aug 2020
£31,602 - £34,443 per annum
MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK
Fixed term, 3 years

Job description

This position is suitable for someone with a PhD in a relevant subject, or due to complete PhD within 6 months.

This position is within the Group of Dr Michael Hastings at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology (LMB), within a programme aimed at the molecular neurobiology of circadian time-keeping in mammals.  Specifically, to undertake research to investigate the in vivo role of the suprachiasmatic nucleus (SCN) in controlling circadian behaviour. 

The Hastings lab research programme aims to understand how individual nerve cells of the SCN operate as daily (circadian) clocks, and how they function together in a temporally co-ordinated circuit to control the rest/activity and sleep/wake cycles and daily physiological rhythms.  There has been recent success in showing how distinct cell populations of the SCN (neurons and astrocytes) contribute differentially to the period and to the stability of the SCN clock (Maywood et al. PNAS 2018, Brancaccio et al. Science 2019, Patton et al. Nature Communications in press).  Even more recently we have established a single-cell RNA sequencing library of the SCN, which identifies, in a broad and comprehensive way, the molecular identities of diverse cell populations in the SCN. 

The goal is to exploit this new insight into cellular identity and function to define how the SCN as a neural circuit directs circadian behaviour and physiology.  Critical to this is the ability to map, monitor and manipulate defined cell groups in vivo, by applying virally based intersectional techniques, and then to determine the consequences of specific manipulations for circadian behaviour and so reveal causal relationships and relevant mechanisms.  Techniques will include stereotaxic neurosurgery, translational switching of protein expression, virally mediated transynaptic tracing, in vivo fibre fluorimetry and opto- and chemogenetic approaches, and automated recordings of circadian rest/activity cycles.  These will be complemented by transcriptomic and other molecular genetic approaches, alongside high content fluorescent light microscopy to map relevant brain circuitry.  

Person Specification

Academic qualifications: This position is suitable for someone with a PhD in a relevant subject, or due to complete PhD within 6 months.

Technical skills and expertise: Experience of and ability to perform techniques relevant to the project.  Particularly useful would be experience of:
Rodent stereotaxic surgery
A solid background of molecular neurobiology approaches.
Confident and comprehensive ability to describe, discuss and explore advanced concepts of molecular neurobiology.
Commitment to advance in the fields of behavioural and/or molecular neuroscience.
A desire to conduct practically based research.
Experience of virally mediated neural circuit tracing and/or fibre fluorimetry.
Design, production and /or utilisation of viral vectors for mapping and manipulating the brain.
Whole-brain fluorescent microscopy.
A desire to refine and advance surgically based approaches to study of brain function in rodents.