Beckman Resource Center Scientific Director
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The Beckman Institute at the California Institute of Technology seeks a highly motivated Research Scientist to serve as a Beckman Resource Center Director for the Beckman Institute Resource Center for CLARITY, Optogenetics and Vector Engineering (CLOVER Center: clover.caltech.edu)
The BI CLOVER Center’s mission is to facilitate optogenetic studies, custom viral vector development and tissue clearing projects across Caltech and beyond through infrastructure and reagent sharing, training, and further technology and methodology development. By providing these services, the BI CLOVER Center is catalyzing high-impact and high-risk research projects by helping researchers test their hypotheses and obtain the preliminary data necessary to secure additional funding for continued technological development or to advance basic science objectives.
The ideal candidate would have working knowledge of the CLOVER Center core technologies and be able to guide them as detailed below.
- CLARITY: rendering tissues optically transparent and macromolecule permeable via tissue-hydrogel hybrids
- Optogenetics: modulating and monitoring the state of specific cell types with genetically encoded, light-sensitive proteins
- Viral vector engineering: we develop customized viral vectors for efficient and targeted gene transfer in vivo
The work will be fast-paced, challenging and collaborative, and therefore requires that the candidate is well organized and has strong problem-solving, interpersonal and communication skills. It is essential that the applicant has hands-on experience with molecular cloning, cell culture, and animal models. The ideal candidate would also have experience with recombinant virus production, fluorescence microscopy, directed evolution, computational biology and analysis of large datasets. Candidates need to have a doctoral degree in a biological science and a strong record of productivity as evidenced by multiple publications, including as first and/or corresponding author. The position requires outstanding organizational skills, as well as experience in the managing of a life science laboratory and collaborations. The candidate will work independently under general guidance from the center PI, Prof. Gradinaru, and must exhibit strong problem solving skills (e.g. be able to accurately recognize irregularities in experimental results and modify experiments as needed). Must be accurate, efficient, organized and keep detailed records. Strong written and verbal communication skills and the ability to work in a multi-disciplinary environment are required.
Over the past several years, numerous tissue clearing methods have been developed that enable imaging of macromolecules in their 3D context. Despite the rapid development of new tissue clearing protocols, there is no universal solution that can be applied for clearing, labeling and imaging all tissue types or macromolecule classes. Therefore, the position will evolve to continue advancements in tissue clearing technologies and assist groups with developing customized protocols for their needs.
The position in the BI CLOVER Center will advance optogenetics through teaching, one-on-one training and by expanding the opsin toolkit through protein engineering efforts in collaboration with researchers from several Caltech laboratories. The position will be using directed evolution and high throughput selections to develop AAV gene transfer vehicles for targeting, via the vasculature, the central and peripheral nervous systems and other important targets (e.g., heart, muscle). In addition, will be evolving AAV variants that target specific cell populations, organs or brain regions with greater specificity. Finally, will provide consultations and custom AAV development for collaborators on and off campus.
As Director the position will also be responsible for:
- Prepare annual reports for the Beckman Center renewal
- Grant writing – individual or collaboratively
- Travel occasionally
- Prepare publications
- Present findings at group meetings and participate in lab discussions
- Work closely with the PI and other laboratory staff to adapt methodology to fit research requirements and ensure that research timelines are kept on track
- Keep careful records
- Train laboratory personnel and help with daily operations for smooth functioning
- Other duties as assigned
- Doctoral degree in biology, biological engineering, or another related field
- Prior hands-on experience with molecular cloning, DNA/RNA isolation, mammalian tissue/cell culture, qPCR, transfections
- DNA and virus library preparation, titering and functional evaluation of vectors in vitro and in vivo
- Cell culture for recombinant AAV and possibly lentivirus production and validation
- In vivo vector administration, tissue processing, DNA/RNA isolation, immunohistochemistry and microscopy
- Working knowledge of sequence analysis tools such as BLAST, SnapGene/DNA Star/Vector NTI and primer design software
- Must have prior experience with mouse models
- Must be self-motivated and organized
- Must have excellent communication and interpersonal skills – the position requires a coordinated effort within and across laboratories
- Excellent communication skills (writing and verbal) and the ability to interact professionally with students and all levels of staff as well as with external collaborators
- Ability to handle a variety of tasks simultaneously
- Ability to resolve technical problems and adapt easily to changing needs and priorities
- Must possess a high level of initiative
- Experience working with recombinant viral vectors under BSL2 conditions
- Hands on experience with fluorescence and confocal microscopy
- Stereotaxic injections
- Experience with immunohistochemistry, in situ hybridization
- Experience with computational biology and analysis of next generation sequencing datasets
- Familiarity with high throughput screens/selections, DNA library design, and directed evolution
- Excellent organization, time management and project management skills
- Grant and personnel management experience is a plus but not required