Assistant Research Officer at KEMRI Wellcome Trust

The KEMRI Wellcome Trust Research Programme (KWTRP) is based within the KEMRI Centre for Geographic Medical Research – (Coast). Our core activities are funded by the Wellcome Trust. We conduct integrated epidemiological, social, laboratory and clinical research in parallel, with results feeding into local and international health policy. Our research platforms include state-of-the-art laboratories, a demographic surveillance system covering a quarter of a million residents, partnership with Kilifi County Hospital in health care and hospital surveillance, a clinical trials facility, a vibrant community engagement programme and a dedicated training facility.

Job Purpose:

We are seeking an Assistant Research Officer (ARO) for a one-year Rapid Impact COVID-19 Project aimed at:

  1.  Developing immunological assays for measuring immunity to SARS-Cov-2.
  2.  Analysing the kinetics of the immune response to SARS-CoV-2.

This project aims to improve our understanding and interpretation of antibody assays being employed around the world for surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 and to understand the role of the immune response in pathogenesis.

The ARO will work with the team to develop local capacity for the immunology of SARS-CoV-2 at KWTRP, whilst supporting collaborative studies with other research institutions based in Kenya and beyond. Our main objective will be to provide the immune kinetics data quickly to help the interpretation of sero-surveillance data that will be generated across Africa, and the world.

Description:

Reports To:

  • Project Principal Investigator

Job Dimensions:

The KEMRI-Wellcome Trust Collaborative Research Programme (KWTRP) researches diseases with the highest burden in developing countries for which it is recognised internationally within the fields of international public health, clinical tropical medicine, epidemiology and immunology. The programme aims to maximise opportunities for learning and training in order to maintain a cadre of highly skilled and experienced staff from all disciplines.

The goal of this Rapid Impact COVID-19 Project is to provide an understanding of the evolution of the antibody response to SARS-CoV-2, and its role in pathogenesis and immunity.  To do this – the ARO will optimise the assays to be used, and subsequently generate the kinetics data – which will be analysed with the help of the PI and colleagues.

The ARO will be primarily based at the KWTRP in Kilifi, Kenya, but will work collaboratively with the Aga Khan University, Nairobi, the Karolinska Institute and Mabtech AB, Stockholm, among other collaborators.

Key Responsibilities:

Research

  • To implement, optimize and troubleshoot various immunological assays including ELISAs, virus neutralisation, Fluorospots, and flow cytometry.
  • To generate kinetics data on the antibody response to SARS-CoV-2 using ELISAs, flow cytometry and neutralization assays.
  • To generate kinetics data on the cellular response to SARS-CoV-2 using Luminex, Fluorospot and flow cytometry-based technologies.
  • To manage and update sample shipments from other labs and usage at KWTRP.
  • To keep accurate laboratory records on the assay development and data generation
  • To perform preliminary analyses, produce and present the results
  • To contribute to the writing of scientific manuscripts
  • To present data at weekly group meetings and institutional seminars

Qualifications:

  • A BSc degree in immunology, or an equivalent degree programme with a substantial component in immunology training.
  • At least One-year relevant work experience.
  • Experience with peripheral blood mononuclear cell isolation and counting.
  • Practical working knowledge of ELISAs, ELISpots, neutralisation and flow cytometry assays.
  • Strong attention to detail and ability to keep accurate scientific records
  • Ability to work independently, organize and plan own workload and adapt to changing priorities
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills.

Desirable Qualifications & Competencies (Giving Added Advantage):

  • Basic knowledge of R and other critical IT packages.
  • Experience in recombinant protein expression.

Physical Environment/conditions:

  • Based at the KEMRI/Wellcome Trust Research Programme in Kilifi, Kenya but be flexible to travel to other partner or collaborating institutions
  • Be available to work out of hours if necessary
  • Exposure to materials considered infectious and/or biohazards.

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