Research Fellow in Integrative Structural Molecular Biology

University of Leeds

Leeds, United Kingdom

Job posting number: #7196207 (Ref:FBSAS1072)

Posted: November 27, 2023

Job Description

Are you an ambitious researcher looking for your next challenge? Do you have an established background in methods of protein structural analysis such as NMR spectroscopy, FRET, structural proteomics, biophysics or others? Do you want to further your career in one of the UKs leading research intensive Universities? 

Antibiotic resistance is projected to cause 10 million deaths per year by 2050, with gram-negative (diderm) pathogens comprising 9 of the 12 bacteria that pose the greatest threat to human health (World Health Organisation). These pathogens have a unique outer membrane (OM) that acts as a first line of defence against an assault from potentially harmful molecules to the bacteria, such as antibiotics. Finding ways to prevent correct assembly of the OM may therefore produce new routes to kill gram-negative bacteria, or make them more susceptible to existing antibiotics. Recently, we have been studying the mechanism by which beta-barrel outer membrane proteins (OMPs) reach the OM, how chaperones facilitate OMP delivery across the periplasm, and how the β-barrel assembly machinery (BAM) folds/inserts its clients into the OM, yielding new insights into the mechanism of OM assembly (e.g. Schiffrin et al, Commun Biol, 2022; White et al., Nat Commun, 2021; Calabrese et al, Nat Commun, 2020). 

In this project we aim to gain new information about a key player in OMP assembly, the periplasmic chaperone SurA. This work builds on our previous studies, in which we have identified two key hotspot regions on SurA that are critical for OMP recognition and we are looking for a new team member to help us address the following important questions, using an integrative structural biology strategy:

Given that deletion of SurA results in OM defects, including impaired virulence factor assembly, reduced pathogenicity, induction of cell envelope stress responses, and loss of OM integrity (heightened sensitivity to antibiotics), SurA could be a good target for the development of new antimicrobial agents. However, this is hampered by a lack of mechanistic knowledge about SurA function. This project aims to address this gap in our understanding, by combining cutting edge biophysical, structural, and biochemical approaches to target this fascinating chaperone machinery.

You will be based in the laboratories of Dr Antonio Calabrese, Prof Sheena Radford and Dr Anastasia Zhurvaleva, and work closely with collaborators within the Astbury Centre at Leeds. You will have a PhD (or be close to completion) in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biophysics or a related discipline. You will have an interest in analytical techniques, and whilst significant experience in structural biology and biophysics is essential, training in any areas that you lack experience will be provided.

Dr Antonio Calabrese, Sir Henry Dale Fellow and University Academic Fellow

Email: [email protected] 

Prof Sheena Radford, Astbury Professor of Biophysics

Email: [email protected]


Dr Anastasia Zhurvaleva, Lecturer in Biological NMR Spectroscopy

Email: [email protected]


Location:  Leeds - Main Campus
Faculty/Service:  Faculty of Biological Sciences
School/Institute:  School of Molecular & Cellular Biology / Astbury Centre for Structural Molecular Biology
Category:  Research
Grade:  Grade 7
Salary:  £37,099 to £44,263 p.a.
Due to funding limitations it is unlikely an appointment will be made above £40,521
Working Time:  100% FTE - We are open to discussing flexible working arrangements
Post Type:  Full Time
Contract Type:  Fixed Term (available for 39 months from 1st April 2024, subject to start date.)
Release Date:  Friday 24 November 2023
Closing Date:  Sunday 17 December 2023
Reference:  FBSAS1072

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