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Vanderbilt University Staff Scientist, Biochemistry in Nashville, Tennessee

The Ph.D.-level Staff Scientist will conduct research devoted to early stage drug discovery and structural biology of human membrane proteins related to Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease using solution nuclear magnetic resonance spectroscopy (NMR) as a primary method. The Staff Scientist will use NMR spectroscopy methods as a tool both for high throughput screening/validation of small molecule drug candidate interactions with the target proteins as well as for structural determination and other biochemical. This is a central position in a focused drug discovery effort. The Staff Scientist will also use molecular biological and biochemical methods to express, isotopically label, and purify membrane proteins for NMR studies. This individual will also work with small molecule libraries and optimize high throughput screens, as well as follow-up validation studies of the results from the initial screens. The Staff Scientist should have experience with advanced biological NMR spectroscopy and associated computational methods, as well as experience with protein expression and purification. The Staff Scientist must have the ability to plan and execute experiments independently, with some input from the supervisor. The scientist will also be responsible for drafting progress reports and manuscripts describing the results of the research. The Staff Scientist must also be able to work and communicate effectively with NMR and High-Throughput-Screening facility staff and other project team members, some of whom will be off-campus. They must also have good record-keeping, presentation, and organizational skills.

The laboratory is devoted to working with membrane proteins that are related to human diseases. This includes both studies to unravel the molecular basis for diseases that are linked to defects in membrane proteins and also early stage drug discovery efforts to develop therapeutics for diseases based on leveraging the insight provided by our studies. Projects in this lab involve studies conducted both with purified membrane proteins and studies of these proteins in their cellular contact. Rather than focusing on specific techniques, we take a problem-oriented approach and use whichever techniques are necessary to answer the question at hand. Typically, this requires complementary application of chemical, biochemical, biophysical, and cell biological methods. This strategy and the laboratory is, by nature, very collaborative and collegial, which has stimulated involvement in many multi-investigator projects.

Duties and Responsibilities

Conduct independent research:

  • Designs and executes experiments with some supervision from the PI

  • Conducts advanced NMR experiments

  • Analyzes NMR data with various software packages

  • Preparing protein NMR samples

  • Develop expertise in working with membrane proteins

  • Interprets data and uses results to design the next set of experiments

  • Develops and applies skill in conducting high throughput screening (HTS) and validation of hits from HTS in terms of their interactions with a membrane protein target

  • Work to determine the structures of membrane proteins using NMR and adjunct computational methods

Prepare progress reports and manuscript drafts:

  • Analyzes data to communicate results and their implications in a clear fashion

  • Writes progress reports

  • Assists with project reporting and management

  • Performs some administrative aspects of project management

  • Drafts and edits research papers for publication

Participate with team members and train other project team members:

  • Works collaboratively with other project team members in the Sanders lab, in the labs of on campus collaborators, and with remote collaborators

  • Assists other team members in developing their projects and on specific techniques and protocols

  • Communicates with other team members in order to share results and plan complex experiments

  • Interfaces effectively with NMR and High Throughput Screening Facility Staff

Provide administrative support to the PI:

  • Make recommendations to the PI regarding supply and equipment needs for their project

  • Maintains open contact as needed with the PI, lab manager, NMR and High Throughput

  • Screening facility staff, other team members (on and off-campus), vendors, and various university administrators to assure forward project progress and compliance with federal and university regulation

Supervisory Relationships

This position may require the scientist to participate in training of students, postdocs, and other staff. Some supervision by this Staff Scientist of other project staff may sometimes be required.


  • A PhD from an accredited institution of higher education in Chemistry, Biochemistry, Biophysics, or a related field is necessary.

  • Experience with advanced biological NMR spectroscopy and related software/computational methods is necessary.

  • Experience with bacterial expression of proteins and protein purification is necessary.

  • Ability to develop scientific reports and manuscripts based on original research is necessary.

  • Ability to participate in design, organization and execution of scientific research projects is necessary.

  • Skill in organizing resources and establishing priorities is necessary.

  • Ability to use independent judgement to develop concepts and new approaches for research is preferred.

  • Ability to utilize advanced computer statistical and technical applications is preferred.

  • Must be able to work well in a team environment.

  • Must be an effective communicator.

  • Must have good record-keeping skills.

Commitment to Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion

At Vanderbilt University, we are intentional about and assume accountability for fostering advancement and respect for equity, diversity, and inclusion for all students, faculty, and staff. Our commitment to diversity makes us who we are. We have created a community that celebrates differences and lets individuality thrive. As part of this commitment, we actively value diversity in our workplace and learning environments as we seek to take advantage of the rich backgrounds and abilities of everyone. The diverse voices of Vanderbilt represent an invaluable resource for the University in its efforts to fulfill its mission and strive to be an example of excellence in higher education.

Vanderbilt University is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer. Women, minorities, people with disabilities and protected veterans are encouraged to apply.

Please note, all candidates selected for an offer of employment are subject to pre-employment background checks, which may include but are not limited to, based on the role for which they have been selected: criminal history, education verification, social media review, motor vehicle records, credit history, and professional license verification.