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St. Jude Children's Research Hospital Mammalian Synthetic Biologist- Babu Group in Memphis, Tennessee

Madan Babu's Group and the Core Center for Data-Driven Discovery in the Department of Structural Biology is seeking a highly driven, full-time Mammalian Synthetic Biologist to lead synthetic biology and pooled cloning, functional genomics, and cellular engineering projects related to IDR-Screen. IDR-Screen is an in-house framework to discover functional intrinsically disordered regions (IDRs) of the mammalian proteome through high-throughput screening of defined sequence protein expression libraries. We use Next-Gen Sequencing coupled with traditional and Machine Learning approaches to uncover sequence-function relationships in IDRs. We also use this pipeline to understand the impact of natural and disease variants in select genes for personalized medicine.

The Babu Group uses data driven approaches to understand sequence-function relationships in intrinsically disordered proteins and structure-function relationships in medicinally important structured protein families, respectively.

Recent examples of our work on these topics include:

  • Ravarani, C. N., Erkina, T. Y., De Baets, G., Dudman, D. C., Erkine, A. M. & Babu, M. M. High-throughput discovery of functional disordered regions: investigation of transactivation domains. Molecular systems biology 14, e8190, (2018). doi:10.15252/msb.20188190. PMID: 29759983

  • Marti-Solano, M., Crilly, S. E., Malinverni, D., Munk, C., Harris, M., Pearce, A., Quon, T., Mackenzie, A. E., Wang, X., Peng, J., Tobin, A. B., Ladds, G., Milligan, G., Gloriam, D. E., Puthenveedu, M. A. & Babu, M. M. Combinatorial expression of GPCR isoforms affects signalling and drug responses. Nature 587, 650-656, (2020). doi: 10.1038/s41586-020-2888-2. PMID: 33149304.

  • Jones, E. M., Lubock, N. B., Venkatakrishnan, A. J., Wang, J., Tseng, A. M., Paggi, J. M., Latorraca, N. R., Cancilla, D., Satyadi, M., Davis, J. E., Babu, M. M., Dror, R. O. & Kosuri, S. Structural and functional characterization of G protein-coupled receptors with deep mutational scanning. Elife 9, (2020). doi:10.7554/eLife.54895. PMID: 33084570

    This position is for an experienced Staff Scientist. The ideal candidate will independently design, develop, clone, and run high-throughput, functional genomics screens using FACS and NGS analysis. The candidate should be an inquisitive problem-solver who thrives in a fast-paced research group with diverse expertise. You will lead projects and work as a part of the IDR-Screen team and contribute to many ongoing research projects in the group, lending your library construction skills to protein expression constructs on Structural Biology projects as well. You will be an indispensable member of the Group. In addition to leading research projects and collaborations, you will have opportunities to participate in many ongoing research projects, where your inputs, expertise, and contributions will be valued.

Consistently ranked Top 10 in the U.S. in Pediatric Cancer, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is the only NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children, and home to the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project. The St. Jude campus is a truly unique research environment, encompassing state-of-the-art HPC facilities, world-leading oncology basic research, outstanding Shared Resources and Core Facilities and a dedicated translational Chemical Biology and Therapeutics department. The $412M Advanced Research Center, opened in 2021, will be the new home of the Babu Group and the Center of Excellence for Data Driven Dicsovery. There is a vibrant Data Science community at St. Jude, with opportunities to interact with researchers in the Biostatistics and Computational Biology departments, and tremendous support from the Center for Applied Bioinformatics.

The Group believes strongly in providing excellent scope for career advancement to the candidate to develop themselves as a future leader in the field. There will be strong support and encouragement for developing mentoring abilities, "outside the box" scientific ideas and acquiring tangential scientific/technical skills. St Jude offers a well-defined career ladder with potential for growth and advancement. Industry-competitive salaries are based on your degree and years of experience.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is consistently named as one of Fortune magazine and Glassdoor.com’s “Best Places to Work,” as well as “Best Workplace for Women” and “Best Workplace for Diversity.” We are in the heart of Memphis, Tennessee, a vibrant and friendly city at the historic American crossroads of music, trade, food, and culture. Mild winters and beautiful green outdoor spaces are part of the reasons why Forbes recently named Memphis the 4th happiest city in which to work. Low cost of living and high quality of life are other attractions; Money magazine listed Memphis as one of the least expensive cities in which to raise a child. St. Jude facilities and salaries are highly competitive. The Babu Group strives to build and maintain a culture of respect, diversity, and inclusion and we strongly feel these values directly contribute to the dynamic and intellectually stimulating scientific environment we can provide.

In this role, the successful candidate will work independently to design and passionately lead ongoing projects in Madan's Group and the Center for Data Driven Discovery.

Responsibilities include:

  • Mammalian cell culture

  • Large pooled expression library screens

  • Pooled library design and construction

  • Deep mutational scanning

  • Engineering mammalian cell lines

  • DNA-Seq NGS analysis of high throughput screens

  • Development of assays for functional screens

  • Stay current with advances in the field of synthetic biology and bioengineering to improve our assays

  • Meticulous electronic documentation of experimental observations, procedures, sample organization and results

Excellent interpersonal and communication skills are a must, as you will interact directly with both Computational Biologists and Experimentalists in a highly interdisciplinary environment

  • Bachelor's degree in relevant scientific area is required.

  • Master’s or PhD is strongly preferred

  • A strong background in modern molecular biology techniques including molecular cloning, enzymatic and cellular assays

  • Demonstrated expertise in the design and cloning of large libraries for synthetic biology, protein engineering, deep mutational scanning, MPRAs, functional genomics, mammalian cell engineering, or similar applications

  • Experience with mammalian cell culture

  • Demonstrated expertise with in silico design and cloning of complex protein expression libraries with at least one of the following: Golden Gate, Gibson, or Gateway techniques

  • Demonstrated expertise with cell sorting and flow cytometry

  • Experience with NGS library construction, sequencing and bioinformatic analysis of sequencing data in Python or R

  • Expertise in mammalian cell engineering using Landing Pad, PiggyBac or CRISPR techniques

  • The ability to manage multiple overlapping projects and time-sensitive workflows in a fast-paced, collaborative environment

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Experience developing new tools and methodologies to solve biological questions is highly advantageous

  • Previous experience in a Core Facility or Production Environment is advantageous

  • Lentiviral or AAV production experience is advantageous

  • Experience working with robotics, fluid handling and lab automation and interfacing equipment with ELN/LIMS platform is highly advantageous

  • Experience applying existing Machine Learning methods for biological sequence analysis is highly advantageous

  • Strong proficiency with Python or R is strongly preferred


  • Seven (7) years of relevant post-degree work experience is required.

  • Five (5) years of relevant post-degree work experience is required with a Master's degree.

  • Three (3) years of relevant post-degree work experience is required with a PhD.

    Lead Researcher

  • Five (5) years of relevant, post-degree work experience is required with a Bachelor's degree.

  • Two (2) years of relevant post-degree work experience is required with a Master's degree.

  • No experience is required with a PhD degree.

COVID-19 vaccine:

As of September 10, 2021, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital has mandated the COVID-19 vaccine for all employees, excluding those with an approved medical or religious accommodation, as a condition of employment.

EEO Statement: St. Jude is an Equal Opportunity Employer

No Search Firms:

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital does not accept unsolicited assistance from search firms for employment opportunities. Please do not call or email. All resumes submitted by search firms to any employee or other representative at St. Jude via email, the internet or in any form and/or method without a valid written search agreement in place and approved by HR will result in no fee being paid in the event the candidate is hired by St. Jude.

Posted Job Title: Mammalian Synthetic Biologist- Babu Group

WITS Req ID: 46423

Street: 262 Danny Thomas Place