22P-58 Fellow or Group Leader

22P-58 Fellow or Group Leader

Location: The Pirbright Institute


Principal Investigator opportunities at the Pirbright Institute 

As part of a successful ongoing strategy for the development of our science, we are in a position to offer a number of new and exciting opportunities for independent Principal Investigator scientists. These roles will build and lead dynamic and collaborative science groups in areas of strategic relevance to our work at The Pirbright Institute. 


The Pirbright Institute

Pirbright is a world-leading centre of excellence in research and surveillance of viral diseases of farm animals and viruses that spread from animals to humans. We receive strategic funding from the UK Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and work to understand, control and eliminate economically and medically important diseases which threaten animal and human health, through innovative fundamental and applied bioscience. We study viruses that are endemic and exotic to the UK, using advanced tools and technologies to understand host-pathogen interactions in animals and arthropod vectors. Our major strengths in virology and understanding host immune systems provide a platform to control current diseases and respond to emerging threats. News stories can be found here: https://www.pirbright.ac.uk/news


The Institute is located at Pirbright, Surrey, southwest of London. We employ around 370 staff and host about 60 PhD students and visiting scientists, from all over the world. In recent years investment of around £300M has provided state of the art facilities and support for low and high containment in vitro and in vivo work, microscopy, flow cytometry, scientific computing and bioinformatics. To find out more about our facilities please visit:  https://www.pirbright.ac.uk/facilities-and-resources.


Our Institute is made up of a dynamic and vibrant community of staff covering a diverse set of chosen fields, backgrounds and experience. We all play a crucial role in furthering the Institute’s aspirations, advancing the frontiers of science and knowledge through our excellent scientific research, knowledge sharing and contribution; with a real focus on improving the world in which we live. Our outlook is always balanced by our strong sense of purpose, values and behaviours and an unwavering commitment to a ‘one Institute’ approach.


We particularly welcome applications from under-represented groups, for example individuals from ethnic minority backgrounds, women, and people with disabilities (visible and hidden).  We are committed to taking steps to increase the diversity of our employee and student community and removing any barriers to opportunities and success.


We recognize the need for flexibility in our working and personal lives and we have a range of flexible working arrangements in practice.  Where the role allows, arrangements can also be agreed for some informal home-working and we are open to candidate questions about this.  If you wish to find out more, or have any questions, please contact jobs@pirbright.ac.uk.


Details of the roles and areas of strategic importance are described below. Applicants proposing to work in other subject areas are also welcome, but the proposed area must be relevant to the Institute’s aims and existing research strategy.


Principal Investigator opportunities

Principal Investigator positions are available as early career stage fellowships and established Group Leader roles, with funding and potential resources, as follows:-

Fellow (Band E from £41,181 negotiable depending on experience)

  • Pirbright Fellowship Scheme to support your development
  • Up to 5 years’ salary funding
  • annual consumables budget
  • access to apply for internal PhD studentship funding
  • opportunity for progression to Group Leader

Group Leader (Band F from £49,697, Band G from £62,121 negotiable depending on experience)

  • permanent position
  • annual consumables budget
  • opportunity to access institute strategic funding for a postdoctoral researcher


The purpose of the Principal Investigator role is to build and lead a research group in an area of strategic relevance to the Pirbright Institute. We wish to recruit early career stage fellows or experienced group leaders to develop and drive programmes of work that align with our strategic priorities and complement our unique SAPO4/CL3 high containment facilities for in vitro and in vivo work. We have a specific interest in programmes of fundamental research that would include:-


  • Virology and/or immunology of high consequence livestock viral disease normally exotic to the UK
  • Zoonotic viral diseases, especially those originating from farmed animals
  • Genetics/genomics, bioinformatics, artificial intelligence, epidemiology & climate change, light and electron microscopy in high containment



Main duties and responsibility

Responsible for Running a Research Group:

  • Provide leadership and a collaborative focus for a research group centred upon an area of strategic relevance to the Pirbright Institute.
  • Drive the production of excellent science through the recruitment, management and development of research scientists funded by competitive external grant applications
  • Act as a mentor to the next generation of scientists through doctoral and student supervision and community activities
  • Work with science support services to ensure appropriate levels of health, safety and biosafety and quality assurance are maintained.
  • Contribute to the wider activities of the Pirbright Institute.
  • Develop and lead a sustainable programme of research to deliver impact, including contributing to the development of new knowledge, academic benefits, as well as societal and economic benefits.

This job description is only an outline of the tasks, responsibilities and outcomes required of the role. The jobholder will carry out any other duties as may be reasonably required by his/her line manager. The job description and personal specification may be reviewed on an ongoing basis in accordance with the changing needs of The Pirbright Institute.


Personal specification

We expect applicants for these roles to possess a clear direction for the area of fundamental science they wish to address, with a programme of research that will take advantage of, and exploit, the unique capabilities and facilities available at Pirbright. Applications are expected to have an excellent research and technical grounding in areas relevant to the institute, with the ambition to advance the use of cutting-edge technologies in their field. Successful applicants will have, or be developing, an international reputation for excellent research and a personal track record in high quality peer-reviewed publications, commensurate with career stage. Experience in securing and managing competitive grant funding is essential for more senior appointments.


Fellowship Programme

The Pirbright Institute Fellowship scheme provides an opportunity for outstanding early-stage scientists to develop their own research programme, within the remit of the Institute’s scientific strategy. The fellowship scheme typically employs scientists with established post-doctoral level track record and provides funding for up to five years with a significant consumables budget. The fellowship scheme provides a flexible framework for career progression, with support and mentoring to help develop your own research group, and transition from postdoctoral scientist to principal investigator, with an emphasis on a balanced approach of carrying out excellent science while managing groups in a positive and supportive way. Additional information about the fellowship scheme, is available on request, with further information also available here: https://www.pirbright.ac.uk/careers-and-learning/fellowships  .


Fellow - Specific requirements


  • PhD in a relevant field and significant development at postdoctoral level
  • Has a compelling, innovative, research proposal which will contribute to the advancement of scientific knowledge and understanding in a relevant field
  • Evidence of independent vision in carrying out scientific research in a multi-disciplinary environment
  • An excellent track record of productivity, relative to career stage, including lead author publications in reputable journals
  • Evidence of excellent oral and written communication skills, including the ability to communicate effectively within a team
  • Experience of leading small grant applications or contribution to larger applications
  • A strong collaborative focus in research including evidence of successful working with other people, students and groups
  • Evidence of commitment to developing management/leadership skills, responsibilities at an organization level and collegiate activities (e.g., management training, internal committees, organizing seminars)


  • Experience in high containment working practices
  • Experience of studying high consequence animal/ zoonotic viruses and their natural hosts


Group Leader Roles - Specific requirements


  • PhD in a relevant field and existing experience as a research leader
  • Has a compelling, innovative, research proposal which will contribute to the advancement of scientific knowledge in a relevant field
  • An excellent track record of productivity including at least five lead or senior author publications in reputable journals and a demonstration of fundamental impact in the field
  • A high-quality research reputation, based on citation indices, invited lectures, honorary positions and awards
  • Evidence of writing successful grant applications and a strategic awareness of primary routes of funding in the UK
  • Evidence of excellent oral and written communication skills, including the ability to communicate effectively within a team, with funding bodies and with external partners and stakeholders.
  • A strong collaborative focus in research including evidence of successful working with other people, students, groups and external organizations
  • Evidence of management and leadership skills (including commitment to further development) with a proven track record of successfully recruiting, developing and leading a range of people at different stages of career development


  • Experience in high containment working practices
  • Experience of studying high consequence animal/ zoonotic viruses and their natural hosts




Please specify whether you are applying for a Fellow position or a Group Leader position. Members of our Science Committee will be involved in the process helping to field questions from candidates and explore areas of potential research interest.


Please contact us via Jobs@pirbright.ac.uk if you wish to have an informal discussion with one of our scientists before submitting your application – we welcome and encourage this. 


Subject to the quality of applications we receive, we reserve the right to close some of the areas of interest before the final closing date.


What we offer

  • Competitive salary commensurate with the responsibilities of the role
  • Generous Group Personal Pension Scheme and life cover (subject to age and earnings)
  • 25 days annual leave per annum, pro rata, plus 10.5 public and privilege days
  • Other benefits include free onsite parking, Pirbright gym with subsidised membership, subsidised staff restaurant, Pirbright social club, childcare allowance, cycle to work scheme, Pirbright Lifestyle Hub (employee discount scheme)
  • Please contact HR if you would like to discuss the facilities and resources available prior to making an application

Trim content

® The Pirbright Institute 2022 | A company limited by guarantee, registered in England no. 559784. The Institute is also a registered charity.