Academic Placement

Site: Beech Court, Styal, Manchester, SK9 4LD

Job Description: Academic Placement Student (including night shifts)

We are looking for an academic placement student to join our energetic team and help run our normothermic machine perfusion experiments. Due to the nature of our workload, work is based on a rota system which includes both days and nights.

A full induction programme is provided, and new team members will complete a full training programme before being added to the rota.

This is an opportunity to join a rapidly growing small-medium enterprise (SME) focussed on fast tracking innovations to clinical practise. Our client portfolio incorporates a range of different experimental requirements, from gene therapies to trauma development models. As such, you will gain first-hand insight into how the industry works and be exposed to a host of different projects that will provide you with a wide range of employable skills.

You will be involved in a range of specialised projects that will lead to discussions around experimental design and planning, enabling you to gain experience of writing up laboratory protocols. Our work focuses on normothermic machine perfusion which is a niche field that requires extensive training. This will cover all stages of the process, from cell saving blood (isolating red blood cells) to performing challenging surgical techniques, which includes tissue dissection and an understanding of associated anatomy.

These experiments often require sample collection (blood, urine, tissue etc) that require processing and appropriate storage. Training will be provided to help you understand how to correctly handle, label and store different samples to ensure they can be traced. You will also be expected to keep a laboratory notebook and provide updates on the progress of the study during laboratory meetings.

Our placement students are the core of the PBL team, and they get to work with an extensive range of academic and clinical experts’ day-in and day-out. Given the nature of perfusion experiments, they are very labour-intensive meaning that group dynamics and teamwork are critical. These will be rapidly developed in an industrial setting, helping you develop key characteristics and skills to be included in your future CV.

As an integral part of the team, the candidate will be observed and well supported, with staff on hand to answer any questions or concerns. You will be assigned a line manager (Senior Scientist) who you can speak to in confidence at any time and scheduled one to one meetings carried out to review progress and provide feedback. 

Main Responsibilities 

  1. Prepare solutions for perfusion experiments (weighing out chemicals, mixing solutions, assessing pH)   
  2. Assist in building normothermic perfusion circuits (including setting up blood cell saver machines) 
  3. Draw up all therapeutics required for the experiment 
  4. Perform blood cell saving on experiment days 
  5. Assist all aspects of normothermic machine perfusions (including set up, monitoring, performing arterial blood gases, sample collection and post-experiment clean down)
  6. Labelling and storing samples as required (this may include centrifuging and aliquoting for storage, snap freezing in liquid nitrogen, storing in OCT etc) 
  7. Record all data and results in specified forms (paper and electronic) with accuracy and responsibility 
  8. Maintain laboratory stock levels and equipment, including liaising with the stock control manager  
  9. Organise and store all chemical substances, fluids and compressed gases according to safety instructions 
  10. Read relevant literature to ensure an understanding of the work and to assist in protocol development discussions  
  11. Attend laboratory meetings to discuss experimental plans and provide an update from previous experiments 
  12. Attend monthly presentations and contribute when assigned a topic 
  13. Assist in all other laboratory maintenance and tasks, as required
  14. Ensure that all safety guidelines are strictly followed and maintain a clean and orderly environment 

Training 

A full training schedule will be prepared for the candidate during their apprenticeship, which include: 

  • Porcine anatomy 
  • Normothermic machine perfusion (kidneys, liver, limbs, human blood). 
  • Cell saving 
  • Leukocyte depletion 
  • Arterial blood gas analysis 
  • Surgical techniques including dissection and suturing  
  • Pipetting 
  • Sample processing and storage, including centrifuge use, liquid nitrogen, OCT etc. 
  • Protocol development and planning 
  • Experimental documentation 
  • Data analysis and presentation 
  • Workplace health and safety 
  • Correct approach to the scientific method and how to conduct industrial research 

Skills required 

  • Proven background in Biology or relevant scientific/engineering qualification 
  • Working knowledge of MS Office (especially Excel) and database systems 
  • Ability to work autonomously and under pressure 
  • Ability to work as part of a team 
  • Ability to work out-of-hours  
  • A full UK driving license with car access

Education required:  To apply for this placement, you must be currently studying an undergraduate degree in Biological Sciences or Engineering. You will have completed a minimum of 2 years of your undergraduate degree but will not have graduated at the start of your placement. You must be enrolled at a UK (United Kingdom) or ROI (Republic of Ireland) university for the duration of your placement.

Language requirement: Written and spoken fluency in English

Expected Start date: August 2024

Duration: 1 year (approximately)

Proposed Assessment / Interview Dates: from January 2024. The vacancy will close when we have enough applications, so we recommend that you apply as soon as you can so your application can be considered.

Salary:  £750/month bursary (Supplementary funds will be provided for night-shifts)

Current Student Testimonials

“During my time at pebble, I have learnt skills that I never would have at university. I have been able to better my laboratory skills and I have been able to deepen my understanding of the reason behind doing the science. Working with a small team has allowed me not only to get a flavour for the science but also the everyday running of a company. Each member of the team brings a different area of expertise that has allowed me to develop my knowledge in several areas. From day one at the company, I was completely at ease in the working environment, everyone made me feel welcome. Throughout my learning experience all the team has been encouraging and no question is a silly question. I would encourage anyone who is thinking of applying here to do it because you will not regret it!” – Miles Bolton 2023 (University of Manchester)

“My time at Pebble so far, has been an incredible experience. I am loving working with a like-minded and talented group of people who are so passionate about their research and how it will reach patients. Starting my placement, I was apprehensive but the team were so welcoming and we all settled in so quickly. Working at Pebble is so unique as you are able to explore every section of the company from working in the lab during experiments to developing social media campaigns. Being able to work in an entirely different field of research that I wouldn’t have otherwise experienced has been fascinating. I am so thankful to have the opportunity to work with such an amazing team!”– Emily Milburn 2023 (University of Sheffield)

“Working with the Pebble team is fantastic. I’ve enjoyed taking on responsibilities outside of the lab, exploring different aspects of business functions but most importantly I’ve enjoyed working to produce tangible, meaningful research to improve lives. The team are incredibly welcoming and supportive which creates an ideal environment to ask any questions, make mistakes and learn from them. Gaining insight into this field of research has been incredibly eye opening and I’m grateful for the opportunity to develop cutting-edge technology alongside incredible people.” – Georgie Chesworth 2023 (University of Manchester)