If you’re interested in open technologies to increase access to biology, please take a look at the opportunity below and forward to any suitable colleagues/friends.
Two-year Wellcome Trust Junior Interdisciplinary Fellowship opportunity at the University of Cambridge (Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology)
We are seeking a posdoctoral chemist, chemical engineer or materials scientist who wishes to gain experience in the application of their research to solve problems in the basic biological and biomedical sciences. They will develop open technologies to increase access to biological research tools for scientists in low-resource contexts.
This opportunity is dependent on funding being awarded to a combination of the individual applicant and project. If you’re interested in the project described below get in touch with Dr Jenny Molloy (email@example.com) asap as applications are due to the scheme by 29 March 2019 but must be submitted to the host department for approval by 22 March 2019. The successful applicant would be based in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology with Dr Ljiljana Fruk and supported by Dr Jim Ajioka (Department of Pathology) and Dr Jenny Molloy (Department of Chemical Engineering and Biotechnology).
Molecular biology enzymes are vital for diagnostics, biosensors and research but use in low- resource contexts is limited by the need for a cold chain. Dry or solid state preservation at ambient temperatures (lyopreservation) is a preferred option for contexts such as labs with limited equipment and intermittent electricity supplies or rural clinics. Recent diagnostic innovations have built upon the discovery that under the right conditions cell-free extracts from E.coli can be stored dry for extended periods of time at room temperature and maintain their in vitro transcription-translation (TX-TL) activity (Pardee et al., 2016; Pardee, 2018). Typically this requires the use of expensive and specialist equipment such as a lyophiliser but some success has been reported for air drying with glass-forming protectants such as trehalose (Karig et al., 2017).
The research problem we are seeking to address is improving the time and temperature at which cell-free extracts and purified reagents for nucleic acid-based diagnostics can be stored. Specifically, we aim to achieve useful levels of extract and/or protein activity after ambient temperature storage of up to 40 °C for at least 3-6 months using novel hybrid chitosan- and clay-based hydrogels.