The aim of the lab, and of this project, is to use insect synthetic biology to develop new, safe, sustainable methods for reducing the harm caused by pest insects, particularly mosquitoes and mosquito-borne disease. This position is part of new, three-year, BBSRC-funded project to develop, through synthetic biology, within-cell sensors for mosquito-borne viruses, both in cell culture and in the mosquito Aedes aegypti.
New cost-effective, sustainable, environmentally-friendly methods for controlling arboviruses are sorely needed. We will build on our successful preliminary work with Zika virus sensors (see https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/2023.02.06.527261v1) to develop sensor systems for a range of flaviviruses that detect a virus-encoded enzyme (NS2B/3 protease) and respond to it either with a specific reporter or, in transgenic mosquitoes, with a response that prevents the mosquito from transmitting the virus. A key feature of such systems is that they should be able to detect and respond to a wide range of both known and unknown viruses.
Cell-based sensor systems could be used to detect viruses without prior knowledge of their sequence or phenotype. Sensor-effector systems in transgenic mosquitoes would reduce the ability to transmit a range of viruses. Such tools could be delivered to wild vector populations via mating between released modified mosquitoes and wild mosquitoes, possibly in combination with “gene drives” - the target of another project team in the lab. These methods are egalitarian – everyone within the protected area is equally protected, irrespective of wealth, ethnicity, gender, education etc.
Nominal start date expected to be May 2023 but potentially negotiable. It is anticipated that additional roles will later become available, across a range of grades, for which informal enquiries may be made to email@example.com.
The core of the project is to develop and test components, modules and systems for these novel virus-sensor systems in cell culture (insect and mammalian) and mosquitoes (Aedes aegypti). Correspondingly, the main component of the role is insect genetic studies (responsible for design and development of new transgenic/gene edited strains, rearing and colony maintenance, phenotypic analysis, experimental design and statistical analysis). Additional responsibilities include molecular biology (assisting with design and development of novel plasmids, preparing DNA for mosquito injections, molecular analysis of transgenic strains), communicating progress and data including assisting with manuscript preparation, and training/supervising other staff/students as required.
Interview date: To be confirmed
For informal enquiries: please contact Prof Luke Alphey (firstname.lastname@example.org)
This role is exempt from the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act. Consequently, all applicants will be asked to declare both unspent and spent convictions on their application form.
Appointment of the successful candidate will be conditional on a Disclosure and Barring Service check.
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