This is a full-time, 18 month fixed term position for a Research Assistant/Associate to contribute to two new research studies investigating the neural mechanisms of mobility in people with Parkinson’s disease.
Prevention of immobility and falls in older people is a public health priority. In ageing and age-associated conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, gait disorders and their consequences – most notably falls – are common motor manifestations.

Funded by Parkinson’s UK, Study 1 is entitled: ‘Developing a dynamic multimodal imaging method to study gait and balance in Parkinson’s disease’.

Several hierarchically organised brain networks contribute to gait control. However, our current understanding of the discrete brain-gait networks is limited because we cannot measure them in real-time. While most studies use gait imagery paradigms that show reduced subcortical activity in PD, these paradigms underestimate the brain activity necessary for real-world mobility. We have recently developed a method to measure brain activity during walking using Positron Emission Tomography (PET) where participants complete standing and walking tasks immediated prior to being imaged. We would now like to trial our method in people with Parkinson’s disease and investigate the brain structures and network connectivity underpinning gait impairment in Parkinson’s disease.

Co-funded by Parkinson’s UK and the Dunhill Medical Trust, Study 2 is entitled: ‘Adjunctive Vagus Nerve Stimulation for Improving Neural control of Gait in Parkinson’s Disease’.

Progressive and specific degeneration of the cholinergic system is implicated broadly in Parkinson’s disease, and may underpin discrete gait impairments which are present even at disease diagnosis. We have recently shown in a small study (n=30) that single dose nVNS improved a dopa-resistant gait characteristic that is associated with falls risk, and will now assess this in a multi-dose randomised placebo-controlled proof of concept and feasibility study.

This full-time position is suitable for a highly motivated and ambitious early career researcher who wishes to gain experience working in a thriving and successful interdisciplinary team. You will be part of the Brain and Movement Research Group and affiliated with the Translational and Clinical Research Institute at Newcastle University. You will be based at the Clinical Ageing Research Unit and conduct assessments at the Centre for In Vivo Imaging. The purpose of the role will be to ensure effective delivery of the studies, contribute to data analyses and dissemination of findings.

For informal enquiries contact: Dr Lisa Alcock () and Dr Hilmar P. Sigurdsson () Find out more about the Faculty of Medical Sciences here: Find out more about our Research Institutes here:

As part of our commitment to career development for research colleagues, the University has developed 3 levels of research role profiles. These profiles set out firstly the generic competences and responsibilities expected of role holders at each level and secondly the general qualifications and experiences needed for entry at a particular level.

Key Accountabilities
– Although working under the general guidance of an academic or Principal Investigator, the postholder will contribute ideas, including enhancements to the technical or methodological aspects of their studies, thus providing substantial ‘added value’
– Develop and carry out the specified project using appropriate techniques and equipment as outlined in the personal requirements
– Determine appropriate methodologies for research, with advice and support where required
– Contribute to grant applications submitted by others and in time develop own research objectives and proposals for funding
– Begin to write, with appropriate support, proposals for individual research funding or, where funders do not permit this, contribute to the writing of collective bids
– Assess research findings for the need/scope for further investigations
– Contribute to the writing up of their research for publication and dissemination, either through seminar and conference presentations or through publications
– Present research findings, either at conferences or through publications in reputable outlets appropriate to the discipline
– May be involved in the supervision, with guidance, of final year undergraduate research projects and in providing support to postgraduate research students or Research Assistants
– Will need to work with the support staff and, on occasions, with undergraduate and postgraduate students, and interact intellectually with other academic members of the Institute.
– May contribute to events celebrating the public engagement of science/social sciences/humanities
– Develop an awareness of University structures, policies and procedures and relevant issues in the higher education, research, social and political environment
– Become familiar with pertinent literature on gait impairments associated with Parkinson’s disease, brain networks associated with the control of gait in ageing and Parkinson’s disease, and appropriate data analytical approaches
– Assist in the identification, screening, recruitment and assessment of people with Parkinson’s disease
– Co-ordinate and manage study progress in a timely manner
– Preperation of research output (conference abstracts and scientific manuscripts)

Knowledge, Skills and Experience
-Ability to work well as part of a team and rapidly acquire new skills
-Detailed subject knowledge (PI to describe subject knowledge required) in the area of research
– Likelihood of advanced skills directly related to the research projects
– High level of analytical and problem-solving capability
-Ability to communicate complex information with clarity and to encourage the commitment of others
– Experience of research with clear transferable skills and some experience or awareness of the research environment
-Presentations at conferences and/or high-quality publications
-Experience in working on clinical studies
– Database curation and management skills
– Satisfactory DBS and health clearance
– Ability to communicate complex information with clarity

-Experience in programming with imaging data and programming softwares, including Matlab/Python
– Good information technology and computing skills
-Experience working with older adults and/or neurological patients

Attributes and Behaviour
– Ability to work independently and as part of a team
– Capacity for original thought

– Proactive
– Problem-solving skills

– PhD or equivalent in Neuroscience or related discipline required for Research Associate
– Masters and/or PhD near completion for appointment as Research Assistant