Post doctoral fellow

J. Craig Venter Institute | Non-profit | Rockville, MD | More →

Position Summary
We seek a doctorate level scientist to develop the synthetic genomics technology called Genome Transplantation (2,3). This method installs a complete, typically synthetic, bacterial genome in a suitable bacterial recipient cell, so that the donated genome commandeers the recipient cell to produce a new cell with the genotype and phenotype of the donated genome. The JCVI developed this method over a decade ago, and it was critical in the production of the world’s first cell with a chemically synthesized genome, JCVI-syn1.0 (1), which is a strain of Mycoplasma mycoides. To date, genome transplantation has only been demonstrated for a small set of mycoplasma species (4). We plan to establish this method for use in non-mycoplasma species. Genome transplantation techniques for non-mycoplasmas would catalyze an expansion of the field of synthetic genomics. Efforts that constructed Escherichia coli strains with synthetic genomes had to exchange ~50 kb synthetic genome segments for their corresponding wild type segments in a time-consuming series of more than 50 iterative steps. Had genome transplantation been available to these projects, they could have moved much faster and other projects would have been funded if the method to boot up synthetic genomes was not so difficult. We will also develop a methodology to perform genome transplantation in microfluidic devices as opposed to the original test tube method.

This scientist will be located at the JCVI campus in Rockville, MD. They will be supervised by the JCVI’s head of Synthetic Biology, John Glass, and collaborate closely with Elizabeth Strychalski, a physicist/synthetic biologist at the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Gaithersburg, MD. In the second year of the project this scientist will spend a month working in Bordeaux, France at the Institut National de la Recherche Agronomique (INRA) working with Carole Lartigue, inventor of genome transplantation.

Relevant Literature
1. Gibson DG, Glass JI, Lartigue C, Noskov VN, Chuang RY, Algire MA, et al. Creation of a bacterial cell controlled by a chemically synthesized genome. Science. 2010;329(5987):52-6. Epub 2010/05/22. doi: 10.1126/science.1190719. PMID: 20488990.
2. Lartigue C, Glass JI, Alperovich N, Pieper R, Parmar PP, Hutchison CA, 3rd, et al. Genome transplantation in bacteria: changing one species to another. Science. 2007;317(5838):632-8. doi: 10.1126/science.1144622. PubMed PMID: 17600181.
3. Lartigue C, Vashee S, Algire MA, Chuang RY, Benders GA, Ma L, et al. Creating bacterial strains from genomes that have been cloned and engineered in yeast. Science. 2009;325(5948):1693-6. Epub 2009/08/22. doi: 10.1126/science.1173759. PMID: 19696314.
4. Labroussaa F, Lebaudy A, Baby V, Gourgues G, Matteau D, Vashee S, et al. Impact of donor-recipient phylogenetic distance on bacterial genome transplantation. Nucleic acids research. 2016;44(17):8501-11. Epub 2016/08/05. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkw688. PMID: 27488189

Essential Functions
• Assists with conducting research in defined areas related to the goals of the Institute and the project to improve Genome Transplantation technology.
• Designs and executes scientific experiments and/or scientific software; analyzes and interprets experimental results/data; reviews findings with Dr. Glass and Dr. Strychalski.
• Maintains detailed and complete records of laboratory work and data analysis, as well as abides by the data management plan of the Institute. Organizes and archives data for others to access later.
• Trains and supervises research associates and/or students and/or data specialists assigned to the Genome Transplantation Project.
• Publishes results of scientific work in peer-reviewed journals.
• Keeps current with knowledge in relevant scientific discipline through continued reading of the literature.
• Attends and participates in national and international scientific meetings.
• Participates in JCVI laboratory meetings and scientific working groups.
• Interacts with the Laboratory Director and Department Director on matters of mutual scientific interest.
• Works cooperatively with other staff when necessary to achieve JCVI research goals.
• Abides by environmental, health and safety policies and procedures. This includes reporting potential hazards and when necessary helping to implement solutions to ensure safety and respect for the environment.
• Performs other duties as assigned.
• Strictly adheres to all documented JCVI policies and procedures to include carrying out all functions required of Institute employees (i.e. completion of timesheets in an accurate and timely manner).

Prerequisites
• M.D. or Ph.D. in relevant scientific discipline, such as Molecular Biology, Biochemistry, Pharmacology, Immunology, Microbiology, Neuroscience or Computer Science required. Hands-on laboratory experience preferably in an independent project preferred. Supervisory experience preferred.
• High level of discretion for confidential work and information; ability to appropriately handle critical information and sensitive situations.
• Ability to conduct investigations in relevant scientific areas.
• Must be able to formulate experimental hypotheses and analyze and interpret scientific data.
• Strong computer aptitude, including experience with word processing and/or spreadsheet software and/or data analysis and database software.
• Familiarity with nano- and microfluidics and/or optical microscopy preferred.
• Familiarity with standard laboratory safety procedures.
• Excellent organization, communication, and time management skills.
• Flexibility to handle a variety of tasks and shift priorities simultaneously.
• Strong interpersonal skills; ability to effectively interact with all levels of staff and external contacts; ability to work as an effective team member.
• Cooperative and service-oriented attitude; must be able to work under pressure and maintain a professional demeanor.
• Ability to use sound judgment to effectively solve problems within the scope of the position.
• High level of initiative and ability to work with minimum supervision.
• Superior verbal and written communications skills.

Work Environment
The work environment characteristics described here are representative of those a teammate encounters while performing the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

• Moderate noise (i.e. business office with computers, phone, and printers, light traffic)
• Ability to work in a confined area.
• Ability to sit at a computer terminal for an extended period of time.
• Ability to stand and/or sit for an extended period of time while working in the lab.

Physical Demands
The physical demands described here are representative of those that must be met to successfully perform the essential functions of this job. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions.

• While performing the duties of this job, the employee is regularly required to, stand, sit; talk, hear, and use hands and fingers to operate a computer and telephone keyboard reach, stoop kneel to install computer equipment
• Specific vision abilities required by this job include close vision requirements due to computer and lab work
• Light to moderate lifting is required