Plant Cell Wall Biochemist / Geneticist


Contract length: 21 months
Salary: £30,750 to £37,750 per annum depending on qualifications and experience
Applications Close: 5 April 2017

Plant Cell Wall Biochemist / Geneticist

We seek to recruit an experienced Plant Cell Wall Biochemist / Geneticist for a 21-month position in the Biorefinery Centre at the Institute of Food Research (IFR) / Quadram Institute (QI) on the Norwich Research Park.

The post will be funded by an on-going project managed by Professor Keith Waldron which is part of a larger sLoLa coordinated by Professor Ian Bancroft at University of York. The aim of the IFR/QI component of the project will be two-fold. Firstly, to exploit modern rapid methods of cell wall analysis to phenotype the residual straw components from a large number of varieties of oilseed rape for their functional polysaccharide complements. This will involve the further development and implementation of rapid screening methods for sample preparation, extraction and evaluation. Secondly, to carry out in-depth phenotypic analysis of selected cultivars.

The post will require a broad understanding of extraction methodology, experience in analytical methods for cell wall polymer carbohydrate composition, and experience in the use of high throughput analysis involving e.g. liquid handling robotics and glycomics. In addition, the post will require an understanding / experience in the use of association mapping and the design of experiments for the production and handling of large datasets.

The candidate should have a PhD or equivalent in a Biochemistry-related subject, preferably in Plant Genetics or Plant Biochemistry, a proven track record in publishing in high-impact journals related to plant sciences, interest, knowledge and demonstrable proficiency in genetic studies related to plant cell wall chemistry and interest in the use of natural carbohydrate polymers for bioindustrial applications.

The Biorefinery Centre focuses on the exploitation of co-products and waste streams from the agri-food chain in order to reduce waste, and to enhance economic and environmental sustainability of food production. The Group has a long track record in the fractionation of biological materials for exploitation through function and design. Up to 60% of food may be lost post-harvest, at all stages of the food supply chain from farmer to consumer. Minimising this wastage is a key global target, to increase food security and sustainability, However, where waste can’t be avoided, there are significant opportunities to exploit such streams.

We are using fundamental science and knowledge to find the best ways of turning food chain co-products and wastes into value-added products, including ethanol and platform chemicals. This helps to improve the environmental and economic sustainability of the food chain. Our facilities, housed in The Biorefinery Centre, allow us to experiment on the pilot-scale level at all stages of the biorefining process. We also work very closely with the National Collection of Yeast Cultures at IFR, assessing their yeasts for suitability in biorefining processes.

We are combining biochemical, chemical and physical approaches to selectively extract and modify components of plant cells and in particular cell walls. The aim is to exploit these higher value components as functional ingredients for use in nutrition, pharmacology and biofuels.  Much of our research involves rapid methods of analysis that underpin genome-wide association studies both in yeasts and higher plants.

In 2018, research teams from IFR, the University of East Anglia’s Faculty of Science and Norwich Medical School and the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals’ gastrointestinal endoscopy facility will integrate into the Quadram Institute, a new interdisciplinary research institute at the forefront of a new era in food and health research at the heart of the Norwich Research Park. (

Salary on appointment will be within the range £30,750 to £37,750 per annum depending on qualifications and experience. 

For further information and details of how to apply, please visit our web site or contact Human Resources, Norwich BioScience Institutes Partnership, Norwich Bioscience Institutes, Norwich, NR4 7UA, UK, 01603 450149 quoting reference 1003197.

We are committed to equal opportunities and welcome applications from all sectors of society.  The Institute supports equality of opportunity within the workplace and expects all employees to share and display these values. To support our commitment, we have a range of family, faith and diversity friendly working arrangements to help all staff achieve excellence in their area of work.

As a Disability Confident employer, we guarantee to offer an interview to all disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for this vacancy.

The closing date for applications will be 5th April 2017.

The Institute of Food Research is a registered charity (No 1058499) and is an Equal Opportunities Employer.


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