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Job summary

Main area
Science, Research Project
Civil Service: Senior Executive Officer (SEO)
Fixed term: 22 months (Until 31 August 2023)
  • Full time
  • Flexible working
37.5 hours per week (May be required to work on a rota basis, with some weekend work as well as working between the hours of 8am to 8pm)
Job ref
UK Health Security Agency
Employer type
Public (Non NHS)
Porton Down
£36,329 - £42,481 per annum (pro rata)
Salary period
09/12/2021 23:59

Employer heading

UK Health Security Agency logo

COVID-19 Vacancy Project Team Leader

Civil Service: Senior Executive Officer (SEO)

COVID-19 has reinforced the impact that threats to health can have on society and the economy and driven health security as a critical component of our national security architecture. The United Kingdom Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is a system leader for health security; taking action internationally to strengthen global health security, providing trusted advice to government and the public and reducing inequalities in the way different communities experience and are impacted by infectious disease, environmental hazards, and other threats to health.

UKHSA’s remit, as an agency with a global-to-local reach, is to protect the health of the nation from infectious diseases and other external threats to health. As the nation’s expert national health security agency UKHSA will:

  • Prevent: anticipate threats to health and help build the nation’s readiness, defences and health security
  • Detect: use cutting edge environmental and biological surveillance to proactively detect and monitor infectious diseases and threats to health
  • Analyse: use world-class science and data analytics to assess and continually monitor threats to health, identifying how best to control and mitigate the risks
  • Respond: take rapid, collaborative and effective actions nationally and locally to mitigate threats to health when they materialise
  • Lead: lead strong and sustainable global, national, regional and local partnerships designed to save lives, protect the nation from public health threats, and reduce inequalities

UKHSA’s immediate and most important priority is to continue the response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In the longer term, UKHSA will build on the legacy of the COVID-19 response to ensure resilient and scalable infrastructure to secure the UK in the strongest position to protect the public from future threats to health.

UKHSA mission is challenging, innovative and in the spotlight. To achieve our objectives effectively and fairly, we commit to representing modern Britain and all its diversity. UKHSA recognises that diversity of background and life experience brings different insights, creates challenge and encourages change and innovation. This in turn produces more accountable and trusted public services and better decisions; better because they are more attuned to the needs and interests of all our communities. Differences of thought and outlook are not only respected but expected. We want all our employees to feel that they can be themselves at work and that they are valued.

Job overview

UKHSA are working to support in vitro testing of vaccines and therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2.   As part of the response to COVID-19 pandemic and the drive to support vaccine licensure, we have developed and qualified a wild type virus neutralisation assay (WT-VNA) used to assess immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 vaccines. We have secured significant funding from the UK Vaccines Task Force (VTF) to establish a facility to help meet the demand for the WT-VNA, supporting vaccine roll out in the UK and internationally. We are custom building facilities to support this effort and therefore need to grow our team to meet the global demand.

This post is required is to provide project team leadership to UK Government Vaccine Task (VTF) funded projects concerned with the testing of clinical trial samples for various vaccine developers. The post holder would be responsible for discrete aspects of testing activities. 

Main duties of the job

The successful applicant will lead a team responsible for performing testing using the WT-VNA to support clinical trials and research studies for a number of customers and stakeholders.  Postholder should have significant experience of biological assays (i.e. immunological/virological) and/or assay validation.  Previous experience of working in a regulated environment is essential along with line management/supervisory experience.  Experience of working at Containment Level 3 is desirable. 


Working for our organisation

The role exists within the Medical Interventions Group at UKHSA Porton, a multidisciplinary team that includes virologists, molecular biologists, immunologists and biomedical scientists. The group has a focus on the pre-clinical assessment of medical interventions against high consequence pathogens such as SARS-CoV-2, Zika virus, Q Fever, Anthrax, Melioidosis, Monkeypox, and Influenza. Research programmes within the group vary and include diagnostic and clinical trial assay development and implementation, evaluation of immune escape, assessment of interventions in pre-clinical studies. The viruses studied include those that require handling at Containment Level 3.


Detailed job description and main responsibilities

A methodical approach, high degree of accuracy and a keen eye for detail is essential to successful delivery of these projects. Additional requirements for this post are flexibility, leadership and management skills, team work, proactive responsibility, creative thinking, problem solving and working to deadlines.


Duties include

  • Managing a small team of scientists in both CL2 and CL3 laboratories to analyse clinical trial samples in the VNA to support the UK’s efforts to overcome COVID-19; full training to work at CL3 will be provided.
  • Analysis, interpretation and reporting of data; experience working on regulated studies/projects (GCP / ISO9001:2015) would be advantageous.
  • Generation of study protocols and reports
  • Requirement to comply with safe working practices
  • Communicating with team members, customers, auditors, General Project Managers and Scientific Leaders.
  • Line management

Scope of the work may change so a flexible approach is required.

Option 3 – External

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

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. 


Person specification


Essential criteria
  • PhD in appropriate discipline or MSc and several years’ postgraduate experience or Degree and substantial relevant experience.

Knowledge & Experience

Essential criteria
  • Good knowledge and practical familiarity with techniques for project including Virology, development and application of biological assays, working at CL3
  • Good understanding and experience of safe working practices
  • Evidence of leading projects/project teams
  • Previous experience in training project staff
Desirable criteria
  • Several years’ experience in area relevant to the project e.g. ACDP3
  • Specialist training/experience in specific methods required for the post eg working at CL3
  • Experience of having worked within a regulated environment (e.g. ISO9001)

Skills and capabilities

Essential criteria
  • Ability to prepare and produce concise yet insightful communications for dissemination to senior stakeholders and a broad range of stakeholders as required
  • Experience of creating and giving presentations to a varied group of internal and external stakeholders
  • Ability to analyse very complex issues where material is conflicting and drawn from multiple sources.
  • Demonstrated capabilities to manage own workload and make informed decisions in the absence of required information. Able to work in an efficient and organised manner with very good attention to detail.
  • Demonstrated capabilities to manage own workload and make informed decisions in the absence of required information, working to tight and often changing timescales
  • Willing to undertake further training and able to train junior staff
  • Excellent verbal, writing and presentation skills and able to communicate effectively using the most appropriate method to a varied group of internal and external stakeholders
  • Ability to working to tight and often changing timescales in a busy environment and able to adjust priorities accordingly. Ability to cope with uncertainly and change
  • Able to train junior staff and identify reports training needs in order to meet project objectives.
Desirable criteria
  • Experience of managing a team without direct line management
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Documents to download

Apply online now

Further details / informal visits contact

Neil McLeod
Job title
Senior Project Manager
Email address
Telephone number
01980 619907
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