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Job summary

Main area
Commercial Vaccine Research
Civil Service: Higher Executive Officer (HEO)
  • Full time
  • Flexible working
37.5 hours per week (Full-time)
Job ref
Public Health England
Employer type
Public (Non NHS)
Porton Down
Porton Down
£28,588 - £35,612 per annum
Salary period
25/06/2021 23:59

Employer heading

Public Health England logo

COVID-19 Vacancy Scientist

Civil Service: Higher Executive Officer (HEO)

Public Health England (PHE) is an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care providing; strategic leadership, research, advice and support for Government, local authorities and the NHS in protecting and improving the nation’s health

This is a Non Reserved post under the Civil Service Nationality Rules and is therefore open to UK, Commonwealth and European Economic Area (EEA) Nationals and certain non EEA members. For more information please refer to the supporting documents detailing the Civil Service Nationality Rules.

  • For posts on PHE Civil Service terms and conditions, on appointment the salary is normally the minimum point (see salary range above). This will be dependent on the successful candidate’s current salary and terms and/or equivalent experience. The Civil Service pay structure and progression is different from NHS Agenda for Change, most local authority pay grades and other systems that have annual pay increments. Please see attached an information sheet explaining starting salaries and benefits when joining PHE.
  • For clinically ringfenced AfC or Medical/Dental posts, you must obtain the correct professional registration to be appointed. The pay will follow the AfC or Medical & Dental terms & conditions. You may be asked to provide evidence on previous service whilst we are conducting pre-employment checks to determine starting salaries.

Any moves across the Civil Service may have implications on your ability to carry on claiming childcare vouchers.

Temporary Appointments: If you are external to the Civil Service, you will take up the post on a Fixed Term appointment, if you are an existing Civil Servant, based outside of PHE, you will take up the post as a loan and if you are an existing PHE member of staff, you will take up the post as either a level transfer or a temporary promotion as per PHE’s Pay and Grading policy. If you are an existing Civil Servant, (in PHE or elsewhere) you must have prior agreement from your Line Manager before applying for this post.

Given the nature of the work of PHE, as a Category 1 department, you may be required in an emergency, if deemed a necessity, to redeploy to another role at short notice. You may also be required to work at any other location, within reasonable travelling distance of your permanent home address, in line with the provisions set out in your contract of employment.

We welcome and encourage applications from everyone, including groups currently underrepresented in our workforce and pride ourselves as being an employer of choice. To find out more about how we champion diversity and inclusion in the workplace, visit: PHE website    

On 18 August 2020, the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care announced plans to establish a new agency (then referred to as the National Institute for Health Protection) to lead on health protection in England and to consult on the best future options for strengthening health improvement and other public health functions in the wider system. On 24 March 2021, the Secretary of State announced the new agency would be called the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), and on 29 March 2021 he announced the creation of the Office for Health Promotion (within the Department of Health & Social Care). Public Health England and many of its employees will be in scope for transition to new organisations in Autumn 2021. Any new or current employees working for Public Health England during this time, will receive appropriate communications and consultation prior to any formal transfer taking place.  Employees who are required to transfer to successor bodies would usually remain on their existing contractual terms and conditions ( with any proposed changes being subject to consultation) and this applies both to current employees and those recruited during the transition.  The recruitment, growth & development of our workforce is vital for the continuing success of PHE, and the future UK Health Security Agency and Office for Health Promotion.

To be eligible for employment in the UK Civil Service applicants must meet the Civil Service Nationality Rules (CSNRs) which operate independently and additionally to the Immigration Rules. Applicants must also meet necessary security and vetting requirements, along with any other relevant pre-employment checks.

As from 1 January 2021 broadly the following groups may be eligible to work in non-reserved posts within the Civil Service:

  •        UK nationals
  •        Nationals of Commonwealth countries
  •        Nationals of the Republic of Ireland
  •        EEA nationals with (or eligible for) status under the EUSS
  •        Relevant EEA or Turkish nationals working in the Civil Service
  •        Relevant EEA or Turkish nationals who have built up the right to work in the Civil Service
  •        Certain family members of the relevant EU & Turkish nationals

Recruitment teams may wish to include this in job adverts. We would suggest that CS job adverts also include a link to the CSNRs guidance on


Job overview

We are looking for an experienced scientist to contribute to the delivery of projects within the Medical Interventions Group, including the support of in vivo models of SARS-CoV-2 virus infection. A degree in a related discipline and post-graduate experience are essential, as well as experience in either molecular biology (RT-qPCR) or wet virology (cell culture and plaque assay).Experience working with ACDP hazard group 3 pathogens would be an advantage, but full training can be provided.


Main duties of the job

The post holder will be responsible for collecting, analysing and presenting in vivo study data and so the successful candidate will need to demonstrate a high degree of written accuracy and attention to detail.  Previous experience of working to quality systems (e.g. ISO 9001) and higher quality management standards (GxP) is desirable.

This  post would suit a motivated, pro-active and hard-working individual with a background knowledge in virology and an interest in vaccines and infectious diseases. Additional requirements for this post are flexibility, team work, proactive responsibility, creative thinking, problem solving and working to deadlines. Appropriate training will be provided and personal professional development will be positively encouraged.


Working for our organisation

Public Health England (PHE) is an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care providing; strategic leadership, research, advice and support for Government, local authorities and the NHS in protecting and improving the nations health. We offer a benefits package designed to provide an excellent work/life balance, including generous annual leave entitlement, flexible working hours, possibility of working from home and membership of the excellent civil service pension scheme. We are absolutely committed to the development of our staff and offer wide-ranging opportunities for training and professional development

Option 3 – External

Open to all external applicants (anyone) from outside the Civil Service (including by definition internal applicants).

Detailed job description and main responsibilities

Please refer to the job description and person specification for  detailed list of duties and responsibilities.


Applicants are strongly advised to use the criteria in the person specification (available online) as sub-headings in their application to make it clear how they meet each of the selection criteria. Please also see job description for competencies.



Person specification


Essential criteria
  • Educated to degree level in relevant subject or equivalent level of experience working at a similar level in a specialist area
Desirable criteria
  • MSc/PhD in relevant area

Knowledge and experience

Essential criteria
  • Good knowledge and practical familiarity with techniques for project including standard microbiology / virology techniques, working at containment level 3, practical experience of analytical methods such as molecular biology techniques (RT-qPCR) or cell based assays (plaque assay, neutralisation assays)
  • Good understanding and experience of safe working practices
Desirable criteria
  • Specialist training/experience in specific methods required for the post
  • Breadth of experience covering all aspects of post requirements
  • Experience of having worked in a regulated enivironment
  • Experience of lab supervision

Skills and capabilities

Essential criteria
  • • Clear communicator with excellent writing and presentation skills; capable of constructing and delivering clear ideas and concepts concisely and accurately for diverse audiences
  • • Skills for communication on complex matters and difficult situations, requiring persuasion and influence
  • • Skills for nurturing key relationships and maintaining networks.
  • • Ability to analyse and interpret information, pre-empt and evaluate issues and recommend appropriate course of action to address issues
  • • Problem solving skills and ability to respond to sudden and unexpected demands
  • • Strategic thinking – ability to anticipate
  • • Attention to detail combined with the ability to extract key messages from complex analysis
  • • Take decisions on difficult and contentious issues where there may be a number of possible courses of action
  • • Able to work safely in a laboratory environment
  • • Ability to work on own initiative and organize own workload without supervision, working to tight and often changing deadlines
  • • Ability to maintain confidentiality and trust
  • • Used to working in a busy environment
  • • Adaptability, flexibility and ability to cope with uncertainly and change
  • • Commitment to continuing professional development
  • • Professional calm and efficient manner
  • • Effective organizer
  • • Demonstrate a string desire to improve performance and make a difference by focusing on goals
Desirable criteria
  • • Indepdendent thinker with demonstrated good judgement, problem solving and analytical skills
  • • Intermediate keyboard skills
  • • Willing to undertake security and/or vaccinations
Happy to Talk Flexible WorkingPurple SpaceApprenticeships logoNo smoking policyMindful employer.  Being positive about mental health.Improving working livesAge positiveDisability confident employerThe Employers Network for Equality & Inclusion (enei) is the UK's leading employer network covering all aspects of equality and inclusion issues in the workplace.

Documents to download

Apply online now

Further details / informal visits contact

Yper Hall
Job title
General Project Manager
Email address
Telephone number
01980 612935
Additional information

For further information, please contact Yper Hall, General Project Manager


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