Research Investigator - Translational Biology

Houston, Texas
September 24 2021
Health Sciences
Organization Type
The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center aims to eliminate cancer in Texas, the nation, and the world, through outstanding programs that integrate patient care, research, and prevention, and through education for undergraduate and graduate students, trainees, professionals, employees, and the public.

MD Anderson Therapeutics Discovery Division

Within The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center lies the Therapeutics Discovery Division (TDD), a powerful engine driving the future of new targeted, immune- and cell-based therapies. Therapeutics Discovery eliminates the bottlenecks that hamper traditional drug discovery by employing a multidisciplinary team of dedicated researchers, doctors, drug developers, and scientific experts working together to develop small-molecule drugs, biologics, and cellular therapies. Our unique structure and collaborative approach allow the team to work with agility, bringing novel medicines from concept to clinic quickly and efficiently - all under the same roof.

The TRACTION platform

The Translational Research to AdvanCe Therapeutics and Innovation in ONcology (TRACTION) platform is an industrialized translational research group that aligns world-class drug discovery and development with highly innovative the science and clinical care research, for which MD Anderson Cancer Center is known. Through an investment in patient-centric research, we have developed the infrastructure, platforms, and capabilities to enable transformative research. TRACTION's approach combines innovative cancer genetics, disruptive technologies, deep mechanistic biology, disease modeling, and pharmacology to accelerate the translation of novel discoveries into definitive clinical hypotheses. By partnering with the drug discovery engines within Therapeutics Discovery, we aim to advance a portfolio of small molecules, biologics, and cell therapies for our patients. We work in a fast-paced, milestone-driven environment with a focus on team science and interdisciplinary research. Our unique approach has created a biotech-like engine within the walls of the nation's leading cancer center to bring life-saving medicines to our patients more quickly and effectively.

Position Description

The Institute Research Investigator (RI) applies extensive biology and drug development expertise to lead a cross-functional research team that is tasked with identifying and validating novel oncology hypotheses to advance the development of a clinic ready therapeutic. Specifically, with guidance, the ideal candidate will deploy and integrate state-of-the-art disease models, molecular, cellular, pathology and computational biology tools and expertise that reside within TRACTION, MD Anderson and our corporate partners. Success will be measured by the ability of the RI to incorporate and translate deep biology insights into the clinic where advanced oncology therapeutic agents will be positioned with testable hypotheses and biomarkers that will maximally benefit patients by creating novel contexts and combinations that will maximize therapeutic impact.

Key Functions
  1. Apply expert knowledge of tumor biology in areas such as immune oncology, oncogenic signaling, metabolism, epigenetics and/or DNA damage to enable progression of innovative drug candidates into the clinic through leadership and collaborative experimental activities.
  2. Collaborate with in vivo pharmacologists, translational biologists, computational biologists, disease expert pathologists and non-invasive imaging experts to enable the molecular and pathological characterization of state-of-the-art preclinical models of cancer at single cell and tumor levels.
  3. Work with project teams to design, execute, analyze and interpret in vitro, ex vivo and in vivo experiments supporting the development of compounds entering the clinic or in early clinical studies, including: (i) develop patient stratification strategies, (ii) identify mechanisms of tumorigenesis and drug resistance, and (iii) design and validate drug combination strategies and biomarkers to establish proof of biology.
  4. Utilize bioinformatic and computational tools to interrogate molecular pathology, genomic, transcriptomic, proteomic and epigenetic data sets from patients and preclinical models to identify biomarkers that inform on target modulation, patient selection, biology of response and resistance.
  5. Utilize patient and PDX molecular datasets to assess impact of novel therapeutics and combinations on tumor biology, and develop testable biology hypotheses that inform on response, resistance and combination strategies.
  6. Perform common statistical analysis on biological datasets, including parametric and non-parametric tests.
  7. Contribute expertise and insights to project teams as a key contributor.
  8. With minimal guidance and oversight, contribute to collaborative relationships with internal and external groups.
  9. Monitor, track and document activities and deliverables to project team.
  10. Interpret, present, and report research findings at internal meetings and external scientific conferences.
  11. Use independent thinking and leadership skills to manage resources, the program and be impactful.
  12. Work well under pressure and drive projects that impact critical timelines.


Required: Bachelor's degree in one of the natural sciences or related field.

Preferred: PhD in one of the natural sciences or related field or Medical degree.


Required: Five years of experience in scientific or experimental research work. With preferred degree, three years of required experience.

The ideal candidate will possess:

1. Evidence of utilization of cancer genomics to inform on clinical positioning of development drug candidates.

2. Experience with genetic (ie RNAi and cDNAs) and pharmacological (i.e. small molecule inhibitors or antibodies) approaches to study target biology utilizing biochemistry, cellular and molecular biology methods and assays to drive program biology.

3. Experience utilizing mouse models of cancer to enable target discovery, validation, drug development and/or translational biology.

4. Experience working with chemists, in vitro and in vivo pharmacologists to develop and use assays in support of the development of therapeutics.

5. Broad knowledge and experience in areas of tumor biology including, but not limited to immune oncology, oncogenic signaling, cancer metabolism, epigenetic deregulation, apoptosis and/or DNA damage and repair as evidenced by publication in peer-reviewed journals.

6. Strong data analysis skills, ability to interpret results, design of follow-up experiments, troubleshoot issues with assay performance, and effectively present results and conclusions to co-workers, collaborators and senior leadership.

7. Evidence of working in multi-functional teams of scientists to deliver on program objectives.

8. Evidence of independent thinking and leadership skills are vital.

9. Ability to work well under pressure, drive projects to meet critical timelines and display flexibility to accommodate to rapidly changing priorities and deadlines is required

10. Collaborative attitude and ability to work in a team-based environment is crucial for this position.

11. Excellent oral and written communication skills

12. Experience mentoring junior scientists is a plus.

It is the policy of The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center to provide equal employment opportunity without regard to race, color, religion, age, national origin, sex, gender, sexual orientation, gender identity/expression, disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or any other basis protected by institutional policy or by federal, state or local laws unless such distinction is required by law.