Spotlight on cancer-research careers: Rasologists

6/15/2018 10:55:29 AM

The ASBMB is hosting a special symposium “Frontiers in RAS Pathobiology and Drug Discovery” in September. RAS genes encode small GTPases that play important roles in a number of cell-signaling pathways (e.g., classic MAPK signaling pathway) required for cell development. But with certain mutations, they also are nasty oncogenes. In fact, RAS-gene mutations are associated with nearly one-third of all human cancers and even more so for specific cancer types (e.g., greater than 90 percent for pancreatic cancer).  

These mutated gene forms produce Ras proteins that are locked in a perpetual “on” state, which causes prolific cell growth and drives tumor formation. Therefore, you would think that Ras proteins would make a great target for cancer drugs; however, this protein family has remained elusive to therapies for a number of reasons (e.g., structural properties, functional versatility). A major goal of the upcoming ASBMB special symposium is to reinvigorate cross-disciplinary efforts toward developing viable drug-treatment options. For a more in-depth and enlightening summary of background info on the RAS symposium, catch up on this Twitter thread curated by ASBMB Communications Director Angela Hopp.  

For this week, we looked more into cancer R&D jobs specifically related to the role of RAS-related signaling pathways and oncogenes in tumorigenesis. Below is a roundup of recent job postings in this area. And, be sure to check out this previous post on shooting for a career in cancer research for useful resources on where to find jobs in the field of cancer biology.    

Weekly jobs roundup  

  • The San Francisco-based biomedical R&D company (and symposium sponsor) Calico has a number of openings related to cancer research. This includes a senior research associate who will develop in vitro and cell-based assays to study pathways that contribute to tumor initiation. Minimum qualifications include a Ph.D. in a related field or a master’s degree with three years of experience. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The pharmaceutical company (and symposium sponsor) Pfizer is recruiting scientists to join its newly formed Cancer Systems Therapeutics group in La Jolla, Calif. The group works on developing systems-biology tools to determine cellular changes induced by oncogenes and subsequently identify drug targets to mitigate these changes. These positions include multiple senior associate scientists (non-Ph.D.), a senior scientist and a principal scientist. See the job postings for details on qualifications. No application deadlines are provided. Note: Pfizer has open positions in other oncology research areas as well.  
  • The biotech company Genentech is hiring a postdoctoral research fellow to join the lab of Andrey Shaw in the Oncology Department, which is located in San Francisco. The fellow will study the role of the MAPK signaling pathway in cancer, with a particular focus on RAF kinases and KSR pseudokinases. The applicant should have experience in protein characterization and experimentally working with mammalian tumor cells. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The lab of Edward Stites at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, Calif., is seeking postdoctoral researchers to work in the area of systems biology and human disease (see job # F471). Projects in the lab include the role of the RAS signaling pathway in cancer and other diseases. No application deadline is provided. Note: This posting on the Salk website is quite outdated, so unsure if it is an old posting or an ongoing call for postdocs. It also recently was listed on the HERC job board. Please reach out to the PI listed to check on the status.  
  • The new academic laboratory of Benjamin Myers at The University of Utah is recruiting a lab technician to help set up the lab and research the role of transmembrane signaling mechanisms in cancer and developmental biology. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree and some lab experience. Recent graduates looking to get more experience before grad or med school especially are encouraged to apply. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The lab of Elda Grabocka at the academic institution Jefferson (Philadelphia University + Thomas Jefferson University) in Philadelphia is hiring a postdoctoral fellow in cancer biology to investigate the role of stresses and stress-adapted responses of tumor cells in RAS-driven cancers. This laboratory focuses overall on KRAS-driven pancreatic cancers and identification of potential therapeutic targets. No application deadline is provided.  
  • There is an opening for a postdoctoral researcher in the lab of Natasha Caplen in the Genetics Branch of the Center for Cancer Research at the National Cancer Institute (Bethesda, Md.). The lab researches novel therapeutic targets for cancers driven by fusion oncogenes, specifically characterizing proteins involved with post-transcriptional regulation of these oncogenes. The incumbent will focus on the use of RNA-based technologies to analyze fusion transcripts. No application deadline is provided.  
  • Oregon Health and Science University has a number of open positions in the field of cancer biology, from clinical and research assistants to postdoctoral researchers. This includes a postdoctoral scholar to determine the nanoscopic spatial regulation of Ras GTPases and HER family receptors using super-resolution imaging methods. Another opening is for a research assistant and senior research assistant to study signaling pathways contributing to cancer pathogenesis and identify related gene targets. See the job postings for details and qualifications. No application deadlines are provided.  

Author’s note: If you’re interested in learning more about RAS research, head over to the National Cancer Institute’s RAS Central webpage (a part of The RAS Initiative) that has lots of resources for the research community, including online discussion forums and archived webinars. And, of course, consider attending the ASBMB special symposium on the topic. July 10 is the early-bird registration deadline for the conference. Additionally, June 21 is the deadline to submit abstracts for oral presentations and July 20 for posters.    

Donna Kridelbaugh is a contributor to the ASBMB Careers Blog. She holds an advanced degree in microbiology and is a former lab manager.   

Stay updated on new posts by following the ASBMB on social media  or click “follow” on this blog (must be a member and signed in). Also, be sure to check out the  ASBMB Job Board  for even more job listings

Researching an end to Alzheimer’s disease

6/8/2018 4:11:53 PM

As ASBMB Communications Director Angela Hopp mentioned on Twitter this week, the ASBMB has been highlighting a number of health observances this year. This campaign brings even more relevance to the important biomedical research the ASBMB community is doing by tying your work to outcomes that positively impact the lives of patients and their families. And the month of June is no different, as we observe Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month with this collection of research studies and inspiring stories.   

Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness Month is organized by the Alzheimer’s Association to raise awareness of the more than 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease and to advocate for the care and support patients and caregivers need. The Alzheimer’s Association also has a strong focus on advancing research into treatment options for Alzheimer’s and other debilitating neurodegenerative diseases (see the related job postings below).  

There are many ways to get involved with efforts to end Alzheimer’s disease, from participating in patient-advocacy and fundraising events (e.g., Walk to End Alzheimer’s) to helping advance biomedical research through citizen science (e.g., EyesOnALZ). Another way to support efforts is to consider a research career in this area. If you are interested in further getting involved with Alzheimer’s research, here are a few other resources you may want to check out.  

  • There also are a number of foundations involved in the Alzheimer’s and neurodegeneration research domain that provide grant funding and fellowship awards. For example, the BrightFocus Foundation is accepting applications for its Alzheimer’s Disease Research Program with a deadline of Oct. 2.

  • The NIH's National Institute on Aging provides a number of resources for the research community about training and funding opportunities. You can sign up for the NIA blog to stay updated on funding policies and research priorities. Additionally, the NIA maintains the Alzheimer's and related Dementias Education and Referral Center with updated info on research developments in the field.  

    Weekly jobs roundup  

    This week, we looked into job opportunities in the field of neurodegenerative diseases, and there are lots of open positions for scientists of all degree levels and backgrounds. Here is just a sampling of positions that recently have been listed to give you an idea of what’s out there.   

    • The Department of Neurology at the University of Kentucky College of Medicine (Lexington, Ky.) is seeking a research assistant to develop neuroimaging biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease. The incumbent will work with magnetic resonance images and will need computer programming and software-design skills. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree and one year of experience. The application deadline is June 14.  
    • The Aging Institute within the Department of Medicine at the University of Pittsburgh is in a need of a laboratory manager for a new lab focused on biomedical research into amyloid-related diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease. Minimum qualifications include a master’s degree and two to three years of related experience, although comparable experience may be considered as a substitute for the education requirement. The anticipated application deadline is July 2.  
    • The pharmaceutical company Lilly is hiring a biologist to work within the Biotherapeutic Lead Generation group located in Indianapolis, Ind. The group focuses on developing and testing the activity of large-molecule drugs in areas such as neurodegenerative and auto-immune diseases. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in biology, biochemistry, pharmacology, molecular biology or a related field and two years of research experience, or a master’s degree. No application deadline is provided.  
    • Proneurotech, a biopharmaceutical company focused on developing neuroprotective drugs to prevent axon loss from injury or neurodegenerative disease, is hiring for several positions. These include a research associate in protein biochemistry and a Ph.D.-level biologist to join its founding science team. See the company’s website for job postings and details. No applications deadlines are provided.  
    • The Health Disparities Research Section within the Laboratory of Epidemiology and Population Sciences at the NIH’s National Institute on Aging (Baltimore) is recruiting for both a postdoctoral fellow and senior postdoctoral fellow. The research center studies the molecular and genetic bases for health disparities associated with age-related diseases. Specifically, the senior postdoc position will be responsible for leading the genetic component of the Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity across the Life Span longitudinal study. One posting lists the application deadline as Sept. 30, but both postings mention that the positions are available immediately. (H/t to Nikki Noren Hooten of the NIA for sharing these postings.)  
    • The Van Andel Institute (Grand Rapids, Mich.), an independent biomedical research and science education organization, is hiring a number of postdoctoral fellows in research areas related to neurodegenerative diseases. This includes positions focused on the pathophysiology of Parkinson’s and prion diseases, development of pre-clinical model systems and bioinformatic analyses of epigenetic factors. See the employment listings for current openings. No application deadlines are provided.  
    • The laboratory of Lian Li within the Department of Pharmacology at Emory University (Atlanta) has an immediate opening for a postdoctoral fellow in the research area of molecular neurodegeneration. The Li lab studies the pathogenic mechanisms of neurological diseases to identify therapeutic targets. See the job posting for details on applying. No application deadline is provided.   
    • The Department of Neurology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine is looking for a postdoctoral fellow in the research area of neurodegenerative disease. Specifically, the fellow will look at the function of extracellular vesicles and exosomes in the central nervous system, changes during diseased states and the potential role in drug-delivery systems. See the job posting for how to apply. No application deadline is provided.  
    • The George and Anne Ryan Institute for Neuroscience and the Department of Cell and Molecular Biology at the University of Rhode Island are inviting applications for the position of assistant professor. This faculty member will establish a research program in developing therapies for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders. Minimum qualifications include an M.D. or Ph.D. (or combination) and two years of postdoc experience in molecular neuroscience. The first priority application deadline is June 17.  
    • The Department of Neurosciences at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine (Cleveland) is accepting applications for a tenure-track faculty member at the assistant or associate rank. Specifically, they are looking for applicants who will “investigate basic mechanisms of neural development, regeneration or neural circuit function and how perturbation of these mechanisms contributes to neurological, neurodegenerative and/or psychiatric diseases”. Minimum qualifications include an M.D. or Ph.D. degree and three to five years of postdoc experience. The application deadline is June 20.  

    Bonus posting  

    Gregory Samanez-Larkin, assistant professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University, recently shared info on Twitter about the NIH’s new BRAIN Initiative Advanced Postdoctoral Career Transition Award to Promote Diversity (K99/R00). The goal of the program is to enhance workforce diversity in neuroscience by supporting postdoctoral scientists in their transition to independent-researcher positions. The application deadline is Aug. 1. There also is an informational webinar for potential applicants on June 12. FYI, Gregory has offered to share tips and resources on applying to NIH K99/R00 awards with any scientists out there who are interested. (H/t to Angela Hopp for passing on this information.)

    Donna Kridelbaugh is a contributor to the ASBMB Careers Blog. She holds an advanced degree in microbiology and is a former lab manager.   

    Stay updated on new posts by following the ASBMB on social media  or click “follow” on this blog (must be a member and signed in). Also, be sure to check out the  ASBMB Job Board  for even more job listings.

    Where are all the science jobs?

    6/1/2018 4:02:54 PM

    One frustrating thing about academic training is that it tends to pigeonhole early-career scientists into niche areas. To be successful in academia, you usually have to hyper-focus on a narrow research topic. Sure, it would be cool to spend life studying the neurological basis for why dogs yawn, but the chances of being gainfully employed doing that are slim. Don’t get me wrong, specialized training is important to learn how to do science, but, at the same time, it may be difficult to understand how you are prepared for the job market and what kinds of jobs you are qualified to do.    

    The fact is that the number and types of science jobs out there fluctuate with workforce demands, and qualifications change based on these trends. Thus, it is important for early-career scientists to track hiring trends within the science and technology labor markets. It’s also advisable to learn more about career outcomes to know where people are working. Collectively, this is informative when planning an education or career move (e.g., selecting a degree, choosing a career path).  

    So, how do you know where all the science jobs are? There are a number of online resources, tools and reports freely available to help you make more informed decisions about careers. Here are a few ideas on information to seek out.  

    • Most government agencies track and provide data related to the educational and career outcomes of students and early-career scientists. For example, the National Science Foundation publishes an in-depth biennial Science & Engineering Indicators report on the status of the scientific enterprise in the U.S., which includes the numbers of degrees awarded, workforce demographics and related employer statistics. The National Institutes of Health provides similar resources and reports specifically related to the future of the biomedical research workforce.  
    • The U.S. Department of Labor creates lots of handy resources for tracking labor-market trends. This includes the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook with insights on career outlooks, such as the highest-paying and fastest-growing jobs. Also, the O*NET Resource Center has a number of interactive applications, including My Next Move, a career-exploration tool.  
    • Lately, there has been a big push among academic, government and nonprofit coalitions to better track the career outcomes of graduate students and postdocs. This comes from the recognition that most scientists don’t become academics (there are just not enough open academic jobs for all the Ph.D.s out there), so early-career scientists need this info to make fully informed decisions about their futures. To stay updated on data produced from these efforts, check out the nonprofit Future of Research, which maintains a comprehensive collection of resources on tracking career outcomes at institutions.  
    • Even if you’re not looking for a job yet, it helps to look through job boards (e.g., ASBMB job board) to see what types of positions are being advertised. You can get a good sense of who all is hiring in your field. This also is a way to see what qualifications you may need for a career path of interest. Tip: Save some of the interesting job postings for future reference and use as a guide for career-development purposes.  
    • Recruiters, meanwhile, know all about hiring trends: who is hiring, what fields are growing, technical skills in demand, etc. You can reach out to recruiting firms to get connected to a recruiter in your hiring area. Career fairs are another place to find recruiters and have an in-person conversation. I’ll feature some advice from recruiters on industry-job trends in a future post.  
    • And of course, keep updated with activities ongoing at the ASBMB. The ASBMB policy team covers a variety of topics related to skilled-workforce training and policies. And we also produce many career resources and publications (like this careers blog) that cover diverse career perspectives and insights into the hidden job market.  

    Donna Kridelbaugh is a contributor to the ASBMB Careers Blog. She holds an advanced degree in microbiology and is a former lab manager.     

    Stay updated on new posts by following the  ASBMB on social media  or click “follow” on this blog (must be a member and signed in). Also, be sure to check out the ASBMB Job Board  for even more job listings.