The aim of the lab, and 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 a five-year £3m project (2023-2028), funded by the Wellcome Trust, led by Prof Luke Alphey at York; project partners include The Pirbright Institute (UK), University of Tartu (Estonia) and Universiti Malaya (Kuala Lumpur).
Better methods for controlling mosquito-borne viruses are urgently required. We will develop broad-spectrum anti-viral traits in engineered mosquitoes. By “broad-spectrum” we mean active against multiple arboviruses, in contrast to the current state-of-the-art for synthetic anti-viral (“reduced vector competence”) traits, RNAi-based systems which provide resistance only against specific viruses or virus strains.
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.
The project focuses on alphaviruses, and the use of super-infection exclusion to provide broad-spectrum protection. The core of the project is to develop and test components, modules and systems for these novel anti-viral “refractory insect” systems in Aedes aegypti. There are two positions is available at either Grade 7, Research Fellow or Grade 6, Postdoctoral Research Associate level or, potentially, one at each grade.
Nominal start date is Jan 2023, but negotiable. It is anticipated that additional roles with later start dates will become available, across a range of grades, for which informal enquiries may be made to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Postdoctoral Research Associate - 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.
Research Fellow – as above but with additional responsibility for leading the project team.
Interview date: To be confirmed
For informal enquiries: please contact Prof Luke Alphey (email@example.com)
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