Research Associate – Neurodevelopment and Mental Health

King's College London

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Job id: 067345. Salary: £41,386 – £44,745 per annum, including London Weighting Allowance.

Posted: 16 May 2023. Closing date: 18 June 2023.

Business unit: IoPPN. Department: Academic Psychiatry.

Contact details:Dr Beth Oakley. [email protected]

Location: Denmark Hill Campus. Category: Research.

Job description

An exciting opportunity has arisen in the Department of Forensic and Neurodevelopmental Sciences for a Post-Doctoral Research Associate to develop and lead on a line of research focused on individual differences in child development (cognition and behaviour) and their association with diverse neurodevelopmental (autism, ADHD, intellectual disability) and mental health outcomes (anxiety, depression).

The successful candidate will join a world class academic team of experts in neurodevelopment whose research spans from fetal timepoints to adulthood, with international partnerships and funding from AIMS-2-TRIALS (http://aims-2-trials.eu ), EU CANDY (candy-project.eu), R2D2-MH (https://www.r2d2-mh.eu/ ), SFARI, industry, charity, and Great Ormond Street Hospital. These projects seek to elucidate the mechanisms underpinning core and frequently co-occurring features (e.g., mental health) of neurodevelopmental conditions as a basis for developing novel support strategies that are tailored to the individual.

The successful candidate will be responsible for conducting analyses to identify developmental pathways to later mental health and cognitive/behavioural outcomes and candidate risk and resilience factors associated with these. This work will integrate very large, deep phenotyped datasets, including the AIMS Longitudinal European Autism Project of >700 autistic and non-autistic children, adolescents, and adults who have been comprehensively characterised by their clinical characteristics, behaviour/ cognitive profiles (including sensory processing), brain structure and function, inflammatory markers, and genetics. Also, the work will include data (including fetal ultrasound, EEG, cord blood, genetics, placental samples, and infant development measures) from a large South African cohort of ~4,500 children and adolescents with high exposure to pre-and postnatal adversities linked to poverty (e.g., maternal malnutrition, infection, substance use, and mental health during pregnancy, community violence), who have been followed up since the prenatal timepoint.

The post holder will work as part of major international research consortia, also supporting other researchers and PhD students, to contribute to project deliverables and to write and publish high-quality papers in peer-reviewed literature.

This post will be offered on a fixed-term contract until 31-May-2026

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

Key responsibilities

  • To develop and lead on an area of scientific analysis, broadly focused on individual differences in child development (cognition and behaviour) and their association with diverse neurodevelopmental (autism, ADHD, intellectual disability) and mental health outcomes (anxiety, depression). 
  • Conduct data analysis and write high-quality papers for publication in the peer-reviewed literature, as well as communication of outputs and findings to scientific and non-scientific audiences (e.g., at conferences).
  • Work as part of an international team, collaborating with experts across data modalities including brain imaging, eye tracking, biochemical markers, genetics.
  • To contribute to the preparation of project progress reports and ensure that project milestones and deliverables are on time – and that scientific findings are being maximally exploited.
  • To integrate with the wider Institute and research networks/ collaborators.
  • Plan and prioritise a varied workload to meet deadlines in an efficient and effective manner.

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.

Skills, knowledge, and experience

PhD in a research-based field of relevance to autism/ neurodevelopment (or submitted, awaiting viva)

Essential criteria

  • PhD awarded (or submitted) in a research-based field of relevance to autism/ neurodevelopment.
  • Advanced knowledge of autism, neurodevelopmental conditions, and/or mental health research, particularly with respect to clinical and cognitive phenotyping.
  • Relevant research experience and demonstrable research interest in topic areas related to the project.
  • Competence in quantitative research methodologies and statistical analysis, particularly in relation to longitudinal data.
  • Proven ability to use relevant statistical analysis packages (e.g., R, Stata, MPlus, SPSS).
  • Proven track record of writing for peer-reviewed journals commensurate with level of career.
  • Good understanding of appropriate measures and methods for assessing developmental pathways to later mental health outcomes and candidate risk and resilience factors associated with these.
  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.
  • Excellent organisational and time management skills, with the ability to plan and prioritise own workload to meet project targets.
  • Desirable criteria

  • Experience with large datasets.
  • Experience of networking with scientific teams across multiple sites/labs involving both scientific and administrative coordination and collaboration.
  • 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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