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Research Associate for the MRC Genes & Mental Health and Cognition Project

London (Greater) (GB)
£42,405 per annum, including London Weighting Allowance

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Job description

This exciting role is based with the world-renowned Genes & Health research programme, investigating health and disease in British Bangladeshis and Pakistanis. You will perform research in a prestigious award from the Medical Research Council, designating us a Longitudinal Population Study, in which KCL is leading on mental health and cognition assessments of >25,000 participants. The role will be enthusiastically supported by Genes & Health leadership team and collaborators across KCL and QMUL, external scientific partners and NHS organisations. You will be embedded within the multidisciplinary Genes & Health team and the KCL Mental Health BioResource theme, who work cohesively together, and the post will be well-supported with training and professional development.

Our study will focus on common mental health disorders and conditions, namely depression and anxiety in this group, as well as cognition. The research will focus on developing, optimising, and delivering questionnaires and enabling a wide array of psychology, psychiatric, and genetic research. The post-holder will be encouraged to develop their own research ideas. This work will help provide a deeper understanding of disorder and disease mechanisms in this recontactable community-based cohort, with available high quality linked electronic health and genetic data. This research will platform further ground-breaking research aimed at improving mental health treatments in this community.

The Role:

We seek to recruit a study coordinator for the Genes and Health LPS Study Mental Health Project that aims to carry out detailed, online mental health and cognitive assessment of a cohort of >25,000 individuals from the Genes & Health study. This project is being carried out by King s College London, Queen Mary University of London, the NIHR Maudsley Biomedical Research Centre, and King s Health Partners. The post is for 3 years.

The successful candidate will need to lead and engage with initiatives to establish and build relationships with the Genes & Health study to roll out a new arm of the project, for mental health and cognition. We seek to hire a candidate who preferably has strong links with the local community, who is personable and able to work collaboratively to implement initiatives to build trust with and facilitate engagement with research in underrepresented racial and ethnic minority groups.

The post-holder will coordinate, conduct, develop, supervise, and support all tasks necessary to launch this new project, including optimisation and testing of questionnaire-based instruments. There is potential to facilitate Patient and Public Involvement & Engagement sessions with relevant communities to discuss the design, implementation and dissemination of the research. The postholder will be supported in this work by the experienced Genes & Health team, including bilingual staff, but due to the sensitive nature of these community sessions, we will require the chosen candidate to possess good interpersonal communication skills, to handle these conversations with professionalism and care.

The post-holder may also supervise junior staff and assist in the submission of ethics applications, including protocols and amendments, hosting meetings and presentations to update on the project progress. It will be the post-holder s overall duty to lead on day-day aspects of this project, and to facilitate its success.

Our Environment and Group:

The NIHR Mental Health BioResource team strives to be a diverse research environment that is open, welcoming and supportive to all. The faculty-wide initiatives are supported by an active Diversity & Inclusion Team. To help us achieve our goals, we particularly welcome applications from people from backgrounds who are currently under-represented in UK Higher Education (E.g. Black, Asian, Latinx, and other white ethnic minorities).

Genes & Health is a long-term, innovative, community-based programme of research, seeking to better understand health and disease in British Bangladeshi and Pakistani people and reduce inequalities. Genes & Health is led by academics at QMUL and KCL, and receiving funding from the Wellcome Trust (£4million), MRC (£5milliion), Life Sciences partners (£28million). Genes & Health is supported by a Community Advisory Group, who meet regularly to steer and guide the research programme for maximal community benefit. Using health and genetic information from its volunteers, Genes & Health aims to generate fundamental discoveries for conditions including type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer mental health and dementia, and further information is available here. Genes & Health has already recruited ~60,000 volunteers and led to major scientific discoveries (e.g. Science 2016, Nature 2021) through genetic and health data analysis and volunteer recall studies.

Our PIs and teams are welcoming and friendly, and able to provide most of the training and skills needed for academia. There are various levels of support from junior staff members, to senior ones. We host weekly coffee breaks while working remotely, and senior staff take the wellbeing of individuals seriously. The Bioresource department is committed to diversity and inclusion. We host regular meetings to discuss issues of EDI, and implement policy and new ways of thinking into our team, research and education.

The post will be based in the Biomedical Research Centre s (BRC) BioResource for Mental Health Theme, at the Social Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre, and will report to Professor Gerome Breen, but also will work with the Genes and Health team at QMUL, particularly Professor Sarah Finer. The two groups have had a long term collaboration for >7 years. In addition, the successful post-holder will have the opportunity to work alongside world leading academic researchers in a range of areas across King s Health Partner hospitals and Bart s.

The successful candidate will be a member of a team that includes coordinators, informaticians, a genomics core, database developers, systems administrators, and postdoctoral bioinformatics researchers, PhD students, and a specialised team for questionnaire development and the collection of participant data.

The candidate will be involved in the whole research process from the beginning, including planning, decision making, data collection, data cleaning, analysis, until the end resulting in distribution of results in written form as well as oral presentations.

In our team, we value the open science approach by pre-registering our projects on the Open Science Framework and documenting our research process transparently using GitHub.

This post is subject to Disclosure and Barring Service.

This post will be offered on a fixed-term contract until 20-Sept-26.

This is a full time post - 100% full time equivalent.

Key responsibilities

  • Liaise with the wider research team, stakeholders and collaborators to successfully launch and maintain this project

  • Create materials and documentation necessary for the pre-launch, launch and recruitment of this project (including creating and being responsible for ethics applications)

  • Hosting PPI sessions and focus-groups (both in-person and online)

  • Creating or assisting to create organic social media content for the project

  • Responding to researcher and participant enquiries

  • Be prepared to learn new skills related to this time-sensitive project

  • Work collaboratively to meet the deadlines of the current project

  • Attend meetings relevant to the project and wider Genes & Health team, at both KCL and QMUL campuses

  • Be prepared to work for longer hours on occasion and to facilitate weekend working if needed, particularly in the context of community events

  • Demonstrate excellent communication skills via email, phone and in person (including being efficient and responsive to emails/internal communications)

  • Any other duties appropriate to the grade as directed by the supervisors

The above list of responsibilities may not be exhaustive, and the post holder will be required to undertake such tasks and responsibilities as may reasonably be expected within the scope and grading of the post.

Essential criteria

  1. PhD or equivalent qualifications in a relevant field*

  2. Excellent organisational, communication, interpersonal and administrative skills

  3. Excellent time-management skills with ability to work to deadlines

  4. Fluent in written and spoken English

  5. Ability to follow research guidelines and protocols

  6. A willingness to learn new skills and be flexible with set tasks

Desirable criteria

  1. Prior research experience of collecting data on a research study, preferably in a relevant subject area

  2. Knowledge and experience of relevant documentation and legislation e.g. ethical approvals and Data Protection legislation

  3. Experience with Zoom and/or Microsoft Teams or an equivalent

  4. Links to relevant charities and organisations

  5. Fluency in Urdu/Sylheti/Bangla

*Please note that this is a PhD level role but candidates who have submitted their thesis and are awaiting award of their PhDs will be considered. In these circumstances the appointment will be made at Grade 5, spine point 30 with the title of Research Assistant. Upon confirmation of the award of the PhD, the job title will become Research Associate and the salary will increase to Grade 6.

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