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Head of Culture Collections

London (Greater) (GB)
£65,302 - £78,805
Closing date
23 Jun 2024

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Public Health
Senior Manager
Contract Type

Job Details


London, Salisbury

About the job

Job summary

CS Grade 6 (National) for Porton Down: £65302 - £75219
CS Grade 6 (Inner) for London £69275 - £78805

Culture Collections is a large world leading biological resource centre which provides authenticated reference materials to scientists globally. The department contains five operational teams which supply Cell lines (ECACC), Clinical specimens (COVID Biobank), bacterial strains (NCTC), viral strains (NCPV) and fungal strains (NCPF) to scientific partners to support Public Health. 

The post holder will be responsible for scientific leadership and having comprehensive oversight and responsibility of all scientific and managerial matters across Culture Collections. The post holder will be accountable for all staff within the unit, which is located at both Porton and Colindale sites, providing leadership and oversight for the day-today running and development of the services.  The post holder may work with colleagues who are based across the country at different sites and/or who work remotely.

The successful candidate will provide management and strategic leadership to a large interdisciplinary team that is responsible for the provision of Biological Reference Materials (BRM) to the scientific community. They will manage the budget of Culture Collections and to ensure that work is delivered on time and within budget. This role will also include the management and oversight of laboratories and regulatory and quality functions: including containment level two and three laboratories, a Liquid Nitrogen Cryostore, maintaining the ISO:17025 accredited services and the dispatch of high consequence goods. The team also supports the ISO:19001 accreditation for the whole UKHSA Porton site.


This role can be based at either our Porton Down or Colindale laboratories. There will be an expectation to travel to both sites. You will be asked to express a location preference during the application process.

*Please be aware that this role can only be worked from within the UK and not overseas. Relocation expenses are not available.*

Working Pattern – Full Time

Job description

As the Head of Culture Collections, your main responsibilities will include:

  • To be responsible for, lead and manage the sections within Culture Collections.
  • Provide expert scientific leadership and be responsible for the strategic development and operational service delivery for Culture Collections.
  • To manage the budget of Culture Collections and any contracts and to ensure that work is delivered on time and within budget.
  • Ensure that Culture Collections works to the highest standards of Quality, Health and Safety and Governance. This includes ISO:9001 and ISO:17025 accreditation.
  • Review platform use and manage implementation of new equipment to support improvements in service delivery.
  • To ensure that all staff and laboratory services and facilities operate within Health and Safety regulations and organisational policies.

The duties/responsibilities listed above describe the post as it is at present and is not intended to be exhaustive. The Job holder is expected to accept reasonable alterations and additional tasks of a similar level that may be necessary.

Please see the attached job description for the full list of responsibilities and duties.

Person specification

It is important through your application and Statement of Suitability of 1250 words that you give evidence and examples of proven experience of each of the following criteria:

Essential criteria

  • BSc in a biological or biochemical science; PhD, or equivalent experience, in a biological or biochemical science.
  • Senior management of operation and / or commercial elements of biologicals business.
  • Demonstrate having developed, grown, or added value to the business, in at least 1 organisation, through the development of a clear business strategy and its subsequent delivery.
  • Business finance, including principles of costing, profit, and loss, return on investment, the design of budgets.
  • Experience of implementing and supporting internationally recognised laboratory quality assurance schemes, for example ISO:17025.

Desirable criteria

  • MBA or equivalent postgraduate business management qualification.
  • Experience of managing aspects of a culture collection, or reagents manufacturing business.
  • Experience of managing both technical and commercial activities.


  • Learning and development tailored to your role
  • An environment with flexible working options
  • A culture encouraging inclusion and diversity
  • Civil Service pension with an average employer contribution of 27%

Things you need to know

Selection process details


You will be required to complete an application form and submit a statement of suitability of up to 1250 words. These will be assessed in line with the advertised essential criteria – please do provide evidence of how you meet this.

Your Statement of Suitability should outline your skills, experience, and achievements, providing evidence of your suitability for the role, with reference to the essential criteria (outlined in the person specification section).

If you are successful at this stage, you will progress to an interview.


This competition will involve a face-to-face interview. 

As part of the process, candidates will be invited to interview which will involve an in-depth discussion of your previous experience and professional competence in relation to the criteria set out in the Person Specification. 

Candidates will also be asked to participate in a session where they will be required to prepare and deliver a short presentation to the panel. Full details will be provided prior to the interview.

The Behaviours tested during the interview stage will be:

  • Managing a quality service
  • Effective decision making
  • Delivering at pace
  • Enabling change and continuous improvement
  • Effective communication and influencing skills
  • Enabling an inclusive working environment


Expected Timeline:

Advert close: 23:55hrs on 23rd June 2024 – unfortunately, late applications will not be considered. Once this job has closed, the job advert will no longer be available. You may want to save a copy for your records.

Interviews: Week commencing 8th July 2024

Please note these dates could be subject to change.  

Feedback will only be provided if you attend an interview or assessment.


Successful candidates must undergo a criminal record check.

People working with government assets must complete baseline personnel security standard (opens in new window) checks.

Nationality requirements

This job is broadly open to the following groups:

  • UK nationals
  • nationals of the Republic of Ireland
  • nationals of Commonwealth countries who have the right to work in the UK
  • nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and family members of those nationalities with settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS) (opens in a new window)
  • nationals of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein and family members of those nationalities who have made a valid application for settled or pre-settled status under the European Union Settlement Scheme (EUSS)
  • individuals with limited leave to remain or indefinite leave to remain who were eligible to apply for EUSS on or before 31 December 2020
  • Turkish nationals, and certain family members of Turkish nationals, who have accrued the right to work in the Civil Service

Further information on nationality requirements (opens in a new window)

Working for the Civil Service

The Civil Service Code (opens in a new window) sets out the standards of behaviour expected of civil servants.

We recruit by merit on the basis of fair and open competition, as outlined in the Civil Service Commission's recruitment principles (opens in a new window).

The Civil Service embraces diversity and promotes equal opportunities. As such, we run a Disability Confident Scheme (DCS) for candidates with disabilities who meet the minimum selection criteria.

Diversity and Inclusion

The Civil Service is committed to attract, retain and invest in talent wherever it is found. To learn more please see the Civil Service People Plan (opens in a new window) and the Civil Service Diversity and Inclusion Strategy (opens in a new window).

Apply and further information

This vacancy is part of the Great Place to Work for Veterans (opens in a new window) initiative.

The Civil Service welcomes applications from people who have recently left prison or have an unspent conviction. Read more about prison leaver recruitment (opens in new window).

Once this job has closed, the job advert will no longer be available. You may want to save a copy for your records.

Contact point for applicants

Job contact :

  • Name: Jon Payne
  • Email:

Recruitment team

  • Email:


The UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) is the custodian of four unique collections of expertly preserved, authenticated cell lines, bacteria, viruses, and fungi of known provenance for use in medical science and laboratory healthcare. Scientists across the world use Culture Collections’ cell lines and microbial strains. All bacterial and fungal strains are available in a freeze-dried (lyophilised) format, in fused-glass ampoules. Viruses and cell lines are supplied as cryopreserved ampoules of living viruses/cells. All the collections are developed, managed and maintained by highly trained, dedicated staff who work in accordance with internationally recognised quality standards including certification to ISO 9001:2015. Cultures from the collections are used by scientists who need to be sure that the materials they are using are authentic, so the conclusions to their studies are valid and relevant. This is particularly important where research may lead to peer-reviewed publications, for example, in drug discovery and vaccine efficacy studies. Authenticated reference strains are also of paramount importance for clinical diagnostic testing, food, water and environmental microbiology testing and validation studies. The departments within Culture Collections are: ECACC (The European Collection of Authenticated Cell Cultures) for cell lines NCTC (National Collection of Type cultures for bacterial strains NCPV (National Collection of Pathogens and Viruses) for viral strains NCPF (National Collection of Pathogenic Fungi) for fungal strains

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