One or Two Postdoctoral Positions to Study Transcriptional Regulation in Malaria Parasites. Lab-based

The Barcelona Institute for Global Health (ISGlobal) is a cutting-edge institute addressing global public health challenges through research, translation into policy and education. ISGlobal has a broad research portfolio in communicable and non-communicable diseases, ranging from basic research at the molecular level to studies at the population level. ISGlobal is accredited with the Severo Ochoa distinction, a seal of excellence of the Spanish Science Ministry.

Venue:
Barcelona

What We Are Looking for:
ISGlobal is seeking to hire talented and highly motivated postdoctoral scientists interested on working in a research project investigating novel aspects of the regulation of gene expression in malaria parasites. More specifically, the selected candidates will study gene expression in the context of processes such as sexual conversion, which is essential for disease transmission, and the heat-shock response, which enables parasite survival during fever episodes.

The team:
The ISGlobal Malaria Epigenetics lab directed by ICREA Research Professor Alfred Cortés investigates the regulation of gene expression in the malaria parasite Plasmodium falciparum. We use a combination of approaches that include genome editing with CRISPR-Cas9 technology, state-of-the-art phenotypic characterisation and multi-omic approaches. Our ultimate goal is to generate high-quality basic knowledge that is relevant for the fight against malaria.

Please visit our websites (https://www.icrea.cat/Web/ScientificStaff/alfred-cortes-closas-375; https://www.isglobal.org/equipo-formacion/-/profiles/2000; https://cortesmalarialab.wordpress.com/) for an overview of our recent contributions to understanding the biology of malaria parasites. These include the identification and characterisation of the master regulators of sexual conversion and of the heat-shock response.

We offer an inclusive, vibrant and intellectually-stimulating environment, with state-of-the-art facilities and a broad critical mass for malaria research. We support the professional growth of each and every member of our team through the many excellent training activities offered by ISGlobal, in-depth scientific discussions within the team and regular individual meetings with the group leader. We are seriously committed to promoting diversity and to favour work-family life balance. We love our social activities (including, among others, team building trips and ice-cream celebrations whenever we have something to celebrate). The selected candidates will be invited to participate in the ISGlobal Mentoring Program and in the activities of the ISGlobal Postdoctoral community, which include an annual symposium.

About the project
Plasmodium falciparum is responsible for the most severe forms of human malaria. Transcriptional regulation plays a key role in malaria parasite biology, as it controls fundamental processes such as life cycle progression, antigenic variation and adaptation to the conditions of the environment. Some of these processes are regulated at the epigenetic level, with a key role for euchromatin-heterochromatin transitions. Of note, heterochromatin plays a prominent role in the regulation of the conversion of some asexual parasites into sexual forms that mediate transmission to mosquito vectors. Another important process regulated at the transcriptional level is the heat-shock response, which enables parasite survival during malaria febrile episodes.

We have postdoctoral positions available to work in a project investigating novel aspects of the regulation of sexual conversion and the heat-shock response in malaria parasites. The selected candidates will work in close collaboration with other members of the team and also with external national and international collaborators. On the day to day, the main experimental techniques used for this project will include culture and manipulation of P. falciparum (including genome editing with CRISPR/Cas9), state-of-the-art transcriptomic and epigenomic analyses, and advanced phenotypic characterisation using functional assays, among many others. In addition, this project will involve establishing and optimising in our laboratory several new techniques, including CUT&TAG, Hi-C / UMI-4C, single-cell omics and proximity labelling, with support from our collaborators.

Training and experience /Qualifications:
A PhD in a discipline related with molecular and cellular biology.

Specific Requirements:
Skills for establishing and optimising new molecular techniques
Ability to work both autonomously and in close collaboration with other members of a team
High level of enthusiasm and motivation; passion for science!
Previous research expertise in malaria and/or in regulation of gene expression/chromatin biology is desirable but not essential
Bioinformatics skills are desirable but not essential

Key Responsibilities:
The main tasks will be to design and perform experiments for this project, to analyse and interpret the data, to optimise new techniques and to write the resulting manuscripts, in collaboration with other members of the team. The successful candidates are also expected to contribute to the supervision of junior members of the team and to participate in the scientific discussion of other projects. Good integration in the team environment is essential.

Specific Duties:
Experiments with P. falciparum cultures (including advanced phenotypic characterisation of sexual conversion, heat-shock resistance and drug survival)
Generation of transgenic parasite lines using CRISPR/Cas9 technology
Molecular and cellular biology experiments (generation of plasmids, RT-qPCR, RNA-seq, ChIP-qPCR, ChIP-seq, IFA, etc)
Contribute to optimisation of new techniques in the team, including new omic approaches (CUT&TAG, Hi-C/UMI-4C, single-cell omics, proximity labelling)
Data analysis and preparation of manuscripts
Present results in scientific conferences
Contribute to scientific discussion and to training of new members of the team

Skills:
Capacity to work both independently and as part of a team
Excellent written and oral communication skills in English
Excellent organisation and coordination skills
Demonstrated track record of achievements

Language level:
Excellent written and oral communication skills in English are essential.

Conditions:
Duration: initially one year, extendable for up to two additional years.
Starting date: anytime from October 2023
Contract: Full time
Salary Range: According to ISGlobal salary scales, will depend on the level of experience and qualifications

How to apply:
Applicants must fill in the request form and include the following code reference position: Postdoc_MalariaEpigenetics_Sep23, attach the CV and a Cover Letter. Each attached document must be named with the candidate name and surname.

The receipt of applications will be open until the position is covered (in principle, before the end of the year).

Informal enquiries can be addressed to Alfred Cortés (alfred.cortés@isglobal.org).

Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted.

The interviews could be placed during the reception candidatures period.
Diverse candidacies, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age, sexual orientation, physical abilities, and political views, are encouraged to apply.