Please tell us about your experience of this website today


Opportunities to work in the Research Complex at Harwell

The Research Complex at Harwell (RCaH) is joint venture between the MRC, BBSRC, STFC, EPSRC, NERC and Diamond Light Source. The aim is to provide short, medium, and long-term research laboratory facilities for both life and physical science researchers conducting work at Diamond, the ISIS neutron facility, the Central Laser Facility and other shared facilities on the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) site.

Before applying, researchers should initially contact the RCaH Director to discuss accommodation and support needs and are encouraged to contract  MRC Head Office for information and guidance (see contacts and guidance)

Background to the Research Complex at Harwell

The RCaH is situated on the RAL site adjacent to the Diamond Light Source, a third-generation synchrotron providing world-leading beamlines for studies of the structure of matter across biology, environmental science, materials science, physics, chemistry and engineering.

The RAL site is also home to other facilities used to study structure at the molecular level, including ISIS (the UK neutron spallation source), the Central Laser Facility (CLF), the electron Bio-Imaging Centre (eBIC, part of Diamond) and the Biological Solid State NMR Facility.

The RCaH provides a vibrant research culture that brings together life and physical sciences and the development of a multi-disciplinary centre of excellence, and maximises the opportunities and synergy between the local facilities.

In the life sciences, we aim to support a core of long-term occupants to provide stability and leadership in tackling challenging problems for which proximity to, and partnership with, the RAL facilities and technical expertise is beneficial.

Facilities at the Research Complex at Harwell

The RCaH has two floors of laboratory space and an internal area of around 5000m2. Physical sciences occupy the ground floor with life sciences on the first floor. There are also communal areas, including a coffee room, reception, seminar and meeting rooms.

As well as general laboratory space on each floor, there are shared laboratory areas including cold rooms, dark room, instrument rooms, crystallisation suite and cell culture facilities.

The building has the capacity to house around 180 people. This includes the RCaH Director, Professor Jim Naismith, and his research team as well as a small team of core staff including IT support, laboratory support staff and technical support (including glass washing).

The Collaborative Computational Project in Protein Crystallography (CCP4) and electron cryo-microscopy (CCP-EM) are also housed on the life science floor of the RCaH, supporting the development and use of a suite of software for macromolecular structure determination by X-ray crystallography and users of biological electron microscopy.

On the physical sciences floor, provision has been made to house elements of the STFC Lasers for Science Facility that provides a unique set of laser based techniques and expertise specialising in ultrafast dynamics in solution phase and advanced laser based microscopy for real-time cellular imaging.

Funding available

The MRC is keen to support projects that utilise its allocated space within the building. Researchers working in the RCaH are expected to be employed by a UK university or research institute that will administer the grant or fellowship award. Researchers will then be seconded to the RCaH for the duration of their work there.

Applications to become residents of the RCaH are invited through the MRC’s standard funding schemes including research grants, programme grants, new investor research grants, career development awards and senior fellowships, following the normal deadlines. Applications will be managed in accordance with the usual MRC principles and procedures for the relevant funding scheme.

Principal investigators are expected to spend a significant of their time at the RCaH and this shold be costed into the application.

Investigators from MRC units and institutes wishing to locate an existing member of staff at the RCaH are asked to contact Dr Karen Brakspear at MRC Head Office in the first instance (see contacts and guidance).

Financial support

The MRC will usually fund on the basis of 80 per cent of the full economic cost of your research to your institution. Where equipment is requested to be based at the RCaH, the MRC will fund up to 100% of the costs under the condition that the RCaH retains ownership of the equipment after the duration of grant support has ended.

Institutions should not include estates costs for individuals for the time they are located at the RCaH. Use of the RCaH is free at the point of access and there will be no charge payable for use of the core facilities there. However there may be instances where the RCaH will need to make a charge for core consumables and this should be discussed with the Director.

Contacts and guidance

Applicants wishing to make use of the RCaH should visit the RCaH website and contact the Research Director, Professor Jim Naismith, for queries relating to the facilities available at the RCaH and discussion of the vision of the Research Complex as a whole.

Contact: Professor Jim Naismith

Those intending to apply for funding to work in the RCaH are encouraged to contact Dr Karen Brakspear at MRC Head Office to discuss their ideas.

Contact: Dr Karen Brakspear