Senior Research Scientist

Structural Biology/X-ray Crystallography position at the VCU Massey Cancer Center

Senior Research Scientist position in Structural Biology/X-ray Crystallography in cancer drug discovery is available in the laboratory of Dr. Said Sebti in the Massey Cancer Center at the Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia.  The candidate must have a proven track record in cloning, protein expression, protein purification, and crystallographic structure determination of proteins and protein-ligand complexes to support Dr. Sebti’s drug discovery projects. The candidate will also participate in performing experiments to understand the mechanism of action of anti-cancer drugs. The research focus of Dr. Sebti’s laboratory is to understand at the basic science level how normal cells become malignant and to translate such fundamental knowledge to the clinic. Specifically, the candidates will be involved in exciting and highly integrated multi-disciplinary research projects concerning understanding aberrant oncogenic KRas signal transduction pathways in cancer and designing novel anti-cancer drugs based on this knowledge.

The candidate will be responsible for: collecting and processing data from in-house X-ray generator and data collection on synchrotrons; high-resolution crystallographic structure determination of protein complexes of small molecules in the context of structure-based drug Design; high-throughput crystal screening; optimizing crystallization conditions and growing diffraction-quality crystals of protein: ligand complexes; using structural determination software and structural data to inform and collaborate with chemists and biochemists on structure activity relationship studies; cloning, expression and purification of proteins; molecular docking and virtual screening; characterization of protein-small molecule complexes using a variety of biophysical methods such as ITC, Biacore, MST and/or DSF; performing molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology and pharmacology experiments to understand the mechanism of action of anti-cancer drugs; design and perform experiments, manage research projects, and analyze and interpret data, make conclusions and plan forward; maintain detailed documentation through electronic and notebook means and writing progress reports and manuscripts for peer-reviewed publications; work independently as well as efficiently within the research group as a team player 

EDUCATION: PhD degree with 2+ years’ experience in solving high quality structures of biological complexes using x-ray crystallography.  Desirable but not required: Experience in cancer molecular biology, biochemistry, cell biology, pharmacology, in vivo anti-tumor efficacy in animal models and/or drug discovery.

The VCU X-ray Macromolecular Crystallography Facility, is equipped with the following: Protein Crystallization Equipment (Gryphon Crystallization robot; Minstrel DT UV/ CrystalMation –Gallery DT; CrystalTrack, XTAL 750; Alchemist Liquid Handling System; CrysCam Digital Microscope and Olympus SZ51, Nikon SMZ-2T Microscopes).  X-Ray Diffraction Equipment (AFC11 Goniometer; Hybrid Photon Counter; Eiger R 4M Detector; MicroMax-007HF X-ray Generator; VariMax-HF Arc Optics; Oxford Cobra Cryo-system for data collection at 100K; NitroFlowLab Nitrogen Generator).  X-Ray Crystallography software (CCP4; Pymol; Phenix; Coot; CNS; Solve/Resolve; CrysAlisPro; Olex2; ShelXS; ShelXT; Superflip; ShelXL)

Candidate must have a demonstrated commitment to diversity or a commitment to do so as a staff member at VCU.

Online applications will be accepted at

VCU Massey Cancer Center is one of only 69 National Cancer Institute-designated institutions in the country that leads and shapes America’s cancer research efforts. Working with all kinds of cancers, Massey conducts basic science, translational, clinical and prevention and control cancer research, provides state-of-the-art treatments, and promotes cancer education and training. Since 1974, Massey has served as an internationally recognized center of excellence. It offers one of the largest selections of cancer clinical trials in Virginia and serves patients at multiple sites throughout the state. Its 1,000-plus researchers, clinicians and staff members are dedicated to improving the quality of human life by developing and delivering effective means to prevent, control and ultimately cure cancer.  Massey successfully renewed its Cancer Center Support Grant (CCSG) in 2016.

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) is a major, urban public research university with national and international rankings in sponsored research. Located in downtown Richmond, Virginia, VCU enrolls more than 31,000 students in 226 degree and certificate programs in the arts, sciences and humanities. Sixty-seven of the programs are unique in Virginia, many of them crossing the disciplines of VCU’s 13 schools and one college. MCV Hospitals and the health sciences schools including the Schools of Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Pharmacy and Allied Health Professions comprise VCU Medical Center, one of the nation’s leading academic medical centers. Today, VCU serves an integral role in the economic health of the city of Richmond and the region by educating the current and future workforce, advancing research, and enhancing patient care. VCU, its health system and other related entities have cash and investments of approximately $3.0 billion, which includes $840 million in endowment funds.

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