CRISPR babies: a bioethical dilemma

12/7/2018 4:46:50 PM

Unless you’ve been hiding out in the dark recesses of the lab, by now you have heard about the CRISPR babies controversy. Chinese scientist He Jiankui announced at the Second International Summit on Human Genome Editing that he edited the genomes of human embryos to confer HIV resistance and that a pair of those embryos resulted in pregnancy and twin live births.  

Editing in germline cells produces heritable changes, raising all kinds of bioethical concerns, including those relating to unintended side effects and to the creep toward creating designer babies. For a rundown of the many ethical and scientific concerns specific to the Jiankui case, see this article by Ed Yong of The Atlantic.  

As technologies advance, more bioethics research and discussions are needed to evaluate if and when the genomic engineering of human embryos may be deemed medically necessarily and an ethical and safe practice. Bioethicists will take center place at these debates. Bioethicists research the ethical, legal and social implications of advanced biomedical technologies and produce evidence-based guidelines and policies. If you’re interested in contributing to this field, here is a roundup of jobs and training opportunities within the bioethics space.  

Weekly jobs roundup  

  • The Biomedical Ethics Research Program at Mayo Clinic (Rochester, Minn.) is seeking applicants for its summer Undergraduate Bioethics Internship program. This is a paid internship to gain both educational and research experiences in the bioethics field. The application deadline is Jan. 11.  
  • The Department of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health (Bethesda, Md.) is accepting applications for both its postdoctoral and postbaccalaureate bioethics fellowship programs. See the announcement for more details on qualifications and how to apply. The posting does state that no prior bioethics experience is required or expected. No application deadline is provided. Fellowships are to begin in September.  
  • The Department of Bioethics at Case Western Reserve University is hiring a research assistant to assist faculty with qualitative-research studies, including literature reviews, conducting interviews and data analysis. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor's degree in the humanities, social sciences, public health or a related discipline and one to three years of relevant experience. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The Center for Medical Ethics and Health Policy at Baylor College of Medicine (Houston) is recruiting a postdoctoral research fellow. Minimum qualifications include a terminal degree in health economics, social sciences, health policy, science policy, public health, health-outcomes research or a related field. The posting also states that candidates with advanced training in the biological sciences are welcome to apply. The application deadline is Jan. 18. (Note: The Center also is hiring a clinical ethics manager.)  
  • The American Medical Association (Chicago) is searching for an ethics fellow to work on developing AMA ethics policies, editorial support of the AMA Journal of Ethics and designing and delivering continuing-education training materials. Minimum qualifications include a Ph.D. or equivalent degree in a relevant field (e.g., health policy or medicine) and demonstrated experience in the scholarship of ethics. No application deadline is provided. (Note: The AMA also has an ongoing medical ethics internship program for students located in Chicago.)  
  • The Department of Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Washington is recruiting a tenure-track assistant or associate professor. See the posting for more information on qualifications sought. No application deadline is provided. (Note: This position was posted in late August, so you may want to contact the department to make sure they are still reviewing applications.)  
  • The College of Arts and Science at Xavier University of Louisiana is seeking an assistant professor of medical humanities (see job posting number 1000711). Refer to the job announcement for more details and preferred areas of research interest as it relates to bioethics and other fields. The review of applications begins Jan. 7 and continues until the position is filled.  

Related posts  


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  

HIV research jobs

11/29/2018 8:24:50 PM

All year, the ASBMB has been highlighting national and international health observances to raise awareness of the critical role of biomedical research in understanding and addressing these diseases, while showcasing our members’ important contributions. And, here on the careers blog, we have been featuring career opportunities in each of these areas as well. The culmination of this year of health observances is World AIDS Day on Dec. 1.  

Advances in prevention and treatment strategies (e.g., pre-exposure prophylaxis, antiretroviral therapy) have significantly reduced the transmission of the HIV virus and improved the health outcomes for those infected. But, the reality is, there still is no vaccine or cure, and so much more work needs to be done. Here is a roundup of HIV research and related jobs for early-career scientists interested in pursuing a career in this field.  

Weekly jobs roundup  

  • The Spearman Lab within the Infectious Diseases Division at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center is seeking multiple postdoctoral research associates/fellows in the area of HIV assembly and interaction with myeloid cells. (Note: There are four separate but identical postdoc job announcements for this posted on the Cincinnati Children’s careers site. Search the job board for “myeloid” to find, and consider reaching out to HR or the PI to check if you should apply to all four postings.) Additionally, this division is seeking an assistant professor in microbial pathogenesis. No application deadlines are provided.  
  • The HIV Cure Center at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill is hiring two postdoctoral research fellows. One position is focused on understanding the role of sex-specific factors in HIV latency and persistence, and the other position on the immunology of HIV reservoirs, latency reversal and clearance. The application deadlines are Dec. 31 and Jan. 4, respectively. See the postings for more details.  
  • The Ott Lab at Gladstone Institutes (San Francisco) has several postdoctoral scholar openings. One project is focused on studying the role of the NAD+-dependent protein deacetylase SIRT1 in the immune system and HIV infection. See the posting for more information. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Medicine has current opportunities for bachelor’s to Ph.D. degree holders to conduct HIV research at several facilities. Search the HJF job board for the keyword “HIV” to find all related positions. These include a lab technician and postdoctoral fellow in the research area of structural immunology and located at the Uniformed Services University (Bethesda, Md.) There also are multiple research-assistant positions to support the U.S. Military HIV Research Program at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (Silver Spring, Md.) with functions such as viral-genome sequencing and flow cytometry. No application deadlines are provided.
  • The Memory and Aging Center at the University of California-San Francisco is seeking a research associate who will be responsible for interpreting brain-imaging data in efforts to understand cognitive impairment associated with HIV infection. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience, human biology, psychology, imaging or a related science and one or more years of relevant work experience. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The Clinton Health Access Initiative is hiring an associate to support its HIV Access Program. The goal of this program is to increase access to biomedical prevention interventions and reduce the incidence of new HIV cases in resource-limited areas. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree and three to five years of work experience. Preferred location is on the U.S. East Coast. No application deadline is provided.  
  • The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (Seattle, Wash.) has a posted opening for a program officer in integrated vaccine development within its Global Health program. The incumbent will manage a portfolio of grants and contracts focused on advancing vaccine development to prevent diseases like HIV that have high mortality rates in low-income countries. Qualifications include a technical background in clinical research and development, vaccine development, infectious diseases and/or immunology. No application deadline is provided. (Note: This job was posted 30+ days ago, so you may want to reach out and verify it’s still open.)  
  • Inovio Pharmaceuticals is a biotechnology company developing immunotherapies for the treatment of cancer and infectious diseases that include HIV. An HIV vaccine currently is in development phase as well. There are a number of career opportunities with the company that include an analytical sciences scientist and program manager of drug development. Positions are located in both San Diego and Plymouth Meeting, Penn. Check the job listings for more information. No application deadlines are provided.  
  • Vir Biotechnology is a science-driven company developing novel therapies, including those that induce protective and therapeutic immune responses, for the treatment of infectious diseases such as HIV. Vir has a number of research openings for research associates and scientists at its San Francisco and Portland locations. See the job postings for details on each position. No application deadlines are provided.  

Author’s note. If you are looking for opportunities to get involved with science policy and advocacy in areas such as biomedical-research funding, check out the ASBMB Advocacy Training Program. This is a six-month externship that provides hands-on training and experience. The next round of ATP applications is due on Dec. 9.

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

Jobs in the biobased economy

11/23/2018 6:41:15 PM

Many of you may be planted on the couch this Thanksgiving weekend, vegging out in front of the T.V. and letting that Turkey Day meal slowly digest, while, of course, snacking on a few leftovers. But, one thing you can’t digest is all that fibrous material from your favorite side dishes (like your mother’s sweet corn casserole), and we all know how that ends up. (I promise not to go into any more detail and will leave it there.)  

This is because humans generally lack the enzymes (e.g., cellulase) required to break down cellulose and the other complex polymers (e.g., lignin) that compose the cell walls of vascular plants. These polymers give the plants its rigid structure, while making them recalcitrant to degradation. Fortunately, there are lots of microorganisms present in the environment and the intestinal tracts of cellulose-eating animals that are capable of degrading biomass and also converting it to useful end products (e.g., ethanol).  

This is where the biobased economy comes in, which refers to the conversion of renewable biomass resources (e.g., woody plants, grasses, algae, waste materials) into valuable products (e.g., fuel, additives). This R&D community works on projects that may include the design of enhanced enzymes and microbes that can break down biomass more efficiently and/or produce novel compounds; or to bio-engineer improved biomass feedstocks that are less recalcitrant.  

Overall, scientists in this field are employed in a range of applicable research areas and industries, including renewable energy and biobased products, the wood pulp and paper industries, waste management and even animal nutrition. This week, we bring you some information to help you ruminate about future job opportunities in the biobased economy.  

Job resources  

  • Funded research centers. Major government funders in the area of biomass and biofuel research include the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Energy. You can look at the websites of funded research centers and affiliated partner institutions for job postings. As an example, the DOE funds four Bioenergy Research Centers and a number of Energy Frontier Research Centers that are advancing renewable-energy technologies.  
  • Trade publications. These publications (e.g., Biofuels Digest and Biomass Magazine) can help you stay updated on the latest R&D trends and industry news. Such publications also may include job advertisements.  
  • Trade associations and science societies. There are a number of trade associations (e.g., BIO, Renewable Fuels Association) and science societies (e.g., Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology) that regularly publish relevant research and industry news and offer career resources (e.g., job board). The trade associations also publish membership directories that can serve as a list of companies and institutions to research further for job openings.  

Weekly jobs roundup  

Here is a sampling of jobs across the biobased research and development arena. Sample keywords for further job searches may include but are not limited to: biofuel, biodiesel or cellulosic ethanol; renewable energy, fuels or chemicals; bio-based materials, feedstock or biomass; and/or individual plant cell-wall components (i.e., cellulose, lignin, lignocellulose, hemicellulose) and the respective hydrolytic or oxidative enzymes (e.g., cellulase) required for degradation.     

  • As posted on the ASBMB Job Board, the laboratory of Ming Tien in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Penn State University is hiring a postdoctoral associate to study the enzymatic properties of cellulases. See the posting for more information. No application deadline is provided.  
  • REG Life Sciences (South San Francisco, Calif.), the industrial biotechnology division of Renewable Energy Group, is hiring for both a scientist and research associate to join its metabolic engineering team. The team is focused on the design of improved enzymes, metabolic pathways and engineered microorganisms for the production of renewable fuels and chemicals. See the postings for details on qualifications. No application deadlines are provided.  
  • Royal DSM is seeking an assistant scientist to join its DSM Innovation Center (Elgin, Ill.) in the bio-ethanol group. The position includes responsibilities for project and lab management, experimental design and execution, and process improvement within the areas of microbiology, fermentations and enzymatic hydrolysis. Minimum qualifications include a bachelor’s degree in a related area (master’s preferred). No application deadline is provided.  
  • The Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems Engineering at the University of Minnesota is recruiting an assistant professor. (Note: See Job ID 327170 if this link does not work.) The incumbent will both teach courses and conduct research related to the microbiological degradation and bioconversion of plant biomass. Review of applications begins Dec. 15.  
  • The College of Agriculture, Sciences and Technology at Delaware State University has an opening for a postdoctoral fellow in plant biotechnology. Research will focus on bio-engineering grasses to reduce lignin recalcitrance and improve efficiency as bio-energy feedstocks. No application deadline is provided. 

  • The Analytical Instrumentation Facility at North Carolina State University is seeking a staff scientist in biological electron microscopy. (Note: Search for “electron” to find the posting if needed.) The scientist will instruct users on sample preparation and imaging techniques and is expected to collaborate across departments, including the Center for Lignocellulose Structure and Formation. Minimum qualifications include a Ph.D. and two years of postdoctoral or other relevant experience. No application deadline is provided.  
  • Origin (West Sacramento, Calif.) has multiple openings within its research and development group to develop new chemical products and technologies from lignocellulosic materials. These positions include a research and development scientist, research chemist and assistant scientist. See the website for more details on each position. No application deadlines are provided.  
  • Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (Livermore, Calif.) has multiple openings for biosciences and biotechnology student interns. Interns gain hands-on computational and experimental research experiences in life-sciences areas that include bioenergy applications. The program is open to undergraduates, graduate students and recent graduates (bachelor’s or master’s degree earned in the last year). See the program website for more information and instructions on how to apply.  

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