Closes: 19th September 2022 Salary: £33,050 – £40,750 per annum depending on qualifications and experience Contract: 4 Years, full time

Applications are invited for a Postdoctoral researcher to join the group of at the John Innes Centre (JIC) to study molecular processes in host-pathogen interactions. The overall aim of the project is to structurally and biochemically dissect molecular machineries that enable parasites to modulate host processes and alter host development.

Our established systems include plants colonized by bacterial phytoplasma parasites and their sap-feeding insect vectors. Phytoplasmas have the surprising ability to dramatically alter plant development by short-circuiting host cellular pathways, leading to, for example, leaf and stem proliferations, delayed aging and increased longevity. The resulting ‘Zombie plants’ (see articles here: JIC website; New York Times) are under complete control of the parasites. We found that the phytoplasma virulence proteins are amazing tools to uncover cellular processes, including a novel way of targeted protein degradation, in diverse organisms, including humans. See, for example, Huang et al. 2021, Cell 184:5201-5214.e12.

The successful applicant will dissect novel ways by which pathogen virulence factors link cellular pathways for targeted degradation of host proteins. They will use cryo-electron microscopy (cryo-EM) alongside biochemical and biophysical experiments in answering a key question: What is the secret behind the ability of small pathogen molecules to mediate the efficient and specific degradation of host targets in diverse organisms?

You must have or be close to finishing a PhD in molecular biology or a similar subject. Previous experience in protein purification, characterisation of purified proteins by biochemical, biophysical or structural techniques and cryo-EM are essential. Proficiency in molecular cloning for recombinant expression of proteins and a good understanding of cellular and biochemical processes are required.

You will be part of a basic research environment that involves sharing outcomes via the writing of publications and reports. You will give research presentations at group, institute and (inter)national meetings.

You will have to work well within a collaborative team and have an interest in effectively communicating and sharing technologies and discoveries within this team and in campus/institute-wide expert and interest groups. You will be offered opportunities to teach, participate in student supervisory committees and outreach activities, and to engage with industry, entrepreneurs and investors.

Your application should include a letter that states your motivation for applying for this position, your past and future interests and alignment of these to our work.

About the Hogenhout Group

Research in the Hogenhout group focuses on molecular interactions between microbial pathogens and plant/animal hosts, specifically those involving insect-vectored plant pathogens and plant-insect interactions. The group consists of a dynamic and collaborative international and diverse team of postdoctoral researchers, PhD students, visitors and research assistants. We have expertise in molecular, biochemical, bio-imaging, (functional) genomics, bioinformatics and population/evolutionary biology and studying processes in plant and animal cells and with whole organisms.

Additional information

Interviews will be held w/c 1 November 2022.

The closing date for applications will be 19th September, However, we may close the advert early if a sufficient number of applications are received.

Further information and details of how to apply can be found here, or contact the Human Resources team on 01603 450462 or quoting reference 1004318. Scientific inquiries should be directed to Prof Saskia Hogenhout at

We are an equal opportunities employer, actively supporting inclusivity and diversity.  As a Disability Confident organisation, we guarantee to offer an interview to all disabled applicants who meet the essential criteria for this vacancy. We are proud to hold a prestigious Gold Athena SWAN award in recognition of our inclusive culture, commitment and good practices towards advancing of gender equality. We offer an exciting, stimulating, diverse research environment and actively promote a family friendly workplace. The Institute is also a member of Stonewall’s Diversity Champions programme.

The John Innes Centre is a registered charity (No. 223852) grant-aided by the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council. Apply for this role

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