Post-doctoral Research Associate in Ultrahigh-throughput Exploration of Metagenomic Libraries


A postdoctoral position is available for 12 months (with a possibility of extension) from 1 August 2016 (or later) to work with Florian Hollfelder on ultrahigh-throughput exploration of metagenomics libraries. Metagenomes comprise enormous reservoirs coding for proteins with useful activities, but harvesting this potential is difficult, because useful candidates are rare and hidden in an overwhelming majority of irrelevant genes. Traditionally screening campaigns of metagenomic libraries thus have required massive capital-expenditure for robotic systems and much manpower, making them expensive, slow and available to very few users.

We have just shown (Colin et al. Nature Communications 2015, 6:10008. doi: 10.1038/ncomms10008) that exploration and exploitation of the metagenome is accelerated and made more successful by ultrahigh-throughput screening in picoliter droplets: allowing throughput of tens of millions of assays per hour, at dramatically lower cost (and work!) per assay. We now want to use this platform technology to identify enzymes for biosynthesis of therapeutic small molecules, for green bioenergy conversion, bioremediation, food chemistry and other industrial applications. The postdoc project involves establishment of suitable assays for these tasks in microdroplet format, building environmental metagenomics libraries and looking for new catalysts that are then characterised mechanistically and structurally.

Candidates with a background (and published track record) in protein engineering, mechanistic enzymology, organic synthesis and microfluidic engineering are highly desirable. Candidates must hold (or be in the final stages of completing) a PhD in a relevant discipline.

The work is part of the EU Project ‘Metafluidics’ that involves collaborations with companies and academic groups in Spain, Denmark, Norway, France, Portugal and the UK.

Fixed-term: The funds for this post are available for 1 year in the first instance.

To apply online for this vacancy and to view further information about the role, please visit: This will take you to the role on the University’s Job Opportunities pages. There you will need to click on the ‘Apply online’ button and register an account with the University’s Web Recruitment System (if you have not already) and log in before completing the online application form.

Informal enquiries can be made to Dr Florian Hollfelder

Please quote reference PH09142 on your application and in any correspondence about this vacancy.

The University values diversity and is committed to equality of opportunity.

The University has a responsibility to ensure that all employees are eligible to live and work in the UK.


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