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Lipid jobs on the brain

8/30/2018 11:25:47 AM

It is well established that lipids play a major role in a number of metabolic disorders (e.g., heart disease), but their connection in a wide range of other diseases is just being revealed. This often results from issues with lipid biosynthesis, degradation and/or storage in different tissues and cells throughout the body.  

Now, with techniques like lipidomics, researchers can analyze lipid profiles at the cellular level to look for clues into how lipids are being altered in diseased states. For this week’s post, we reached out to ASBMB science writer Laurel Oldach, who covers news from the Journal of Lipid Research, to see what she had to say about trending lipid research topics. She suggested we check out job opportunities investigating the role of lipids in the brain.  

Lipid storage diseases (also called lysosomal storage or lipid metabolism disorders) are one relevant area. In these inherited metabolic disorders, the body cannot effectively break down specific types of lipids (depending on which enzyme is affected) and the subsequent lipid buildup causes massive damage to vital tissues — often in the nervous system.  

As an example, Laurel pointed out Gaucher disease, which is caused by mutations in the GBA gene that encodes the enzyme glucocerebrosidase responsible for degrading glycolipids. Interestingly, people who are only carriers for the GBA mutation have an increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. For more info about clinical trials and ongoing research in this area, look up the resources on the Lysosomal Disease Network website. (FYI, there appears to be an LDN postdoc fellowship as well although the deadline for this year has passed).  

For any of you true lipid fans out there, you may be excited to learn the ASBMB has an entire Lipid Research Division that you can join to stay updated on the latest research news and network with lipid experts.

For an in-depth history of lipid research and methodologies, check out JLR’s “Living History of Lipids” thematic review series and a very entertaining and intriguing Twitter synopsis on the discovery of lipids in the brain.

Weekly jobs roundup  

To kick off a lipids job series, we looked into science jobs related to lipids and the brain. Keywords for job searches included combinations of the following words: brain, lipid, lipidomics, neurodegenerative, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, lipid storage disease and lysosomal. Laurel also had the great idea to search for such keywords in the JLR to find authors who are active in the field and may be hiring or know of career opportunities. Future posts will highlight other biomedically relevant lipid topics.  

  • The Department of Biomedical Sciences at the University of North Dakota School of Medicine & Health Sciences is seeking a research assistant professor to investigate the role of dietary lipids in the etiopathogenesis of Alzheimer’s disease. Minimum qualifications include a Ph.D. or M.D./Ph.D. in physiology, pharmacology, neuroscience, biomedical sciences or a related field. Review of applications began Aug. 17. The position is open until filled, but you may want to check on the hiring status before applying.  
  • The Department of Physiology at the University of Kentucky is searching for a postdoctoral scholar in the area of cellular neurobiology. The researcher will study the mechanisms by which lipids (i.e., sphingolipids) regulate brain development and are involved in the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative diseases (i.e., Alzheimer’s disease). Minimum qualifications include a Ph.D. degree earned within the last three years and experience with rodent brain surgery, cell culture techniques and gene editing. The application deadline is Sept. 27.  
  • The biopharmaceutical company Biogen (Cambridge, Mass.) is hiring a postdoctoral scientist to further carry out research on how lipid dysfunction is related to alpha-synuclein induced neurotoxicity in Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders. Minimum qualifications include a Ph.D. in neurobiology, cell biology or a related field and experience with neuron culturing methods and animal studies. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The newly established Precision Neurology Program at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and Harvard Medical School seeks a technical research assistant to support efforts in uncovering genes and other biomarkers indicative of neurodegenerative disease (i.e., Parkinson’s) progression. Specifically, the research assistant will be involved with biospecimen processing, biobank management and single-cell -omics analyses (e.g., transcriptomics, lipidomics). Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree and a 3.4 or higher G.P.A. No application deadline is provided.   
  • The laboratory of Eric Ortlund in the School of Medicine at Emory University is recruiting a postdoctoral fellow in biochemistry to perform lipidomic analyses to evaluate changes under pathological conditions. One research goal is to identify biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease. Minimum qualifications include a Ph.D. in biochemistry and experience with LC/MS methods is preferred. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The University of Minnesota is seeking a postdoctoral associate with expertise in lipid and protein biochemistry. The researcher will run quantitative mass spectrometric analyses to identify novel lipids (and proteins in plasma lipoproteins) associated with human aging and Alzheimer’s disease. Minimum qualifications include a Ph.D. in a life or natural science. No application deadline is provided.   
  • Howard Hughes Medical Investigators Tobias Walther and Robert V. Farese, Jr. at the Harvard School of Public Health are hiring a postdoc in cell biology/neurodegenerative diseases and another postdoc in  biochemistry/structural biology. Their joint laboratory specializes in the biology of membrane lipid metabolism as it relates to neurodegeneration and lipid storage (i.e., lipid droplet formation). See the job postings for more information. No application deadlines are proved.   
  • The laboratory of Jeffrey Medin in the Departments of Pediatrics and Biochemistry at the Medical College of Wisconsin is hiring for both a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist. One main focus of the lab is on the pathophysiology and treatment of lysosomal storage disorders. Both positions will be involved with mass spectrometric analyses of lipid samples from murine models and require a Ph.D. degree. No application deadlines are provided.  
  • The laboratory of Christoph Buettner in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Bone Disease at Mount Sinai School of Medicine has several openings, including a research associate/trainee, associate researcher and postdoctoral fellow (two postdoc positions are listed if you search the HR website for “Buettner”). The lab investigates how the central nervous system regulates lipid and glucose homeostasis, using physiological experiments (e.g., stereotactic brain infusions) in rat models. See the job postings for details on qualifications. No application deadlines are provided. (Note: I suggest checking that all of these positions actually are available and not somehow cross-posted on the website.)  

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

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