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Post-Doctoral Research Assistant

Professor / Lecturer

Location:  Hawkshead (nr Potters Bar, Herts)
Salary:  £38,721 to £49,521 Per Annum Including London Weighting
Fixed Term / Full Time
Closing Date:  23.59 hours BST on Monday 16 October 2023
Interview Date:  Tuesday 31 October 2023
Reference:  PPS-0230-23

Post-Doctoral Research Associate

Professor / Lecturer

Location: Hawkshead (nr Potters Bar, Herts)

Salary: £ Inclusive of London Weighting Fixed Term / Full Time

Closing Date: 16/10/2023 Interview Date: 31/10/2023 Reference: PPS-0230-23 


We have an exciting opportunity for a Postdoctoral Research Scientist to work on the development of a M. hyopneumoniae vaccine. This project is funded through the BBSRC Endemic Disease Initiative ( The postholder will be a member of the Molecular Immunology Group of Prof Dirk Werling at the Centre for Vaccinology and Regenerative Medicine of the RVC and will be supervised by Dr Rob Noad.

Mycoplasma hyopneumonia (M.hyop) is the primary pathogen of enzootic pneumonia (EP), a chronic respiratory disease in pigs. Infections occur worldwide and cause major economic losses to the pig industry, thus having a significant socio-economic impact on pig farmers. Close contact between infected and susceptible pigs is the main route of M.hyop transmission. Piglets are considered free from M.hyop at birth, as in utero transmission has not been documented, and first exposure events occur during the lactation period, when piglets are in contact with dams shedding the microorganism. Thus, an interruption of the colonisation cycle through effective vaccines would benefit the whole porcine production system. M.hyop is primarily found on the mucosal surface of the trachea, bronchi and bronchioles, with different adhesins and lipoproteins being involved in the adherence process, thus rendering infected animals more susceptible to secondary infections. Specifically, the destruction of the mucociliary apparatus, together with the ability of M.hyop to modulate the immune response, enhances the susceptibility of infected pigs to secondary pathogens. Whereas M.hyop is still susceptible to a variety of antibiotics, their use needs to be reduced to avoid occurrence of multi-drug resistant strains as well as the general drive to reduce antimicrobial usage. Current available vaccines mainly consist of inactivated vaccines which improve production parameters but do not prevent infection or spread of the pathogen, and their use is often limited to one age group, i.e. sows or piglets after 3 weeks of age. Thus, research on developing new vaccines that confer protective immunity and reduce transmission is a priority, as well as optimization of protocols to eliminate M.hyop from pig herds. The research project aims to produce strains of bacteria which are unable to cause disease in pigs but still stimulate a protective immune response. This work builds on previous BBSRC-funded work identifying genes which are essential for survival of the pathogen in pigs and AHDB funded work to isolate strains of bacteria from UK pigs. Once complete, the project will have discovered bacterial genes that are necessary for disease as a basis for the development of better vaccines to prevent, and prevent the circulation of, enzootic pneumonia. 

The successful candidate will undertake most of the experimental work on the project; testing hypotheses and analysing scientific data, reviewing and refining working hypotheses as appropriate; representing the research group at external meetings/seminars, either with other members of the group or alone. They will manage their own academic research and administrative activities, contribute ideas for new research projects, and develop ideas for generating research income. Other duties include adapting existing and developing new scientific techniques and experimental protocols.

To be selected for this role, you must hold, a PhD/DPhil in a relevant area (vaccinology/microbiology), together with relevant experience, especially around culturing/growing Mycoplasma, next generation sequencing analysis and/or experimental work with pigs. You will possess sufficient specialist knowledge in the discipline to work within established research programmes and will be able to manage your own academic research and associated activities. It is essential that the post holder has excellent communication skills, including the ability to write for publications, present research proposals and results, and represent the research group at meetings.

The post is available from November 1st 2023, and will be based in Hawkshead Campus of the RVC (AL9 7TA). Informal enquiries may be directed to the PIs Dr Rob Noad ( and Prof Dirk Werling (

The closing date for applications is midnight on 16th October 2023 Interviews are likely to be held on 31st October 2023


While this is a full-time role, we welcome applications from individuals who wish to be considered for part- time working or other flexible working arrangements. Applications are particularly welcome from women, and black and minority ethnic candidates who are under-represented in academic posts at RVC.

We, as a Department and Community, will be considerate and welcoming of all people, regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and gender identity. We acknowledge societal inequalities and how these impact us, and those around us, personally and professionally.

We promote equality of opportunity and diversity within the workplace and welcome applications from all sections of the community.

Further details:    Job Description     Person Specification     Conditions of Employment    
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We promote equality of opportunity and diversity within the workplace and welcome applications from all sections of the community.

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