Postdoctoral Fellow - Pain & Sensory Neuroscience

Duke University - Center for Translational Pain Medicine
Durham, North Carolina
Based on experience & expertise; salary will exceed NIH guidelines with generous benefits package.
Closing date
Jul 12, 2022
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Position Description: 

A postdoctoral position is available at Duke University School of Medicine's Center for Translational Pain Research (Donnelly lab) for individuals who have a strong interest in pursuing translational pain research and research focused on sensory biology. 


Who we are: 

Our young and energetic research group is passionate about making scientific advancements that have the potential to improve our ability to treat chronic pain. To this end, our laboratory uses preclinical animal models as well as human biofluids, tissues, and clinical data to study the molecular, cellular, and physiological properties of sensory neurons in health and disease states. We pursue our research ambitions by collaborating with a multidisciplinary group of colleagues who have expertise in neuroscience, cancer research, pharmacology, immunology, bioinformatics, and biostatistics, enabling our lab to pursue sensory neuroscience research at the interface of many scientific disciplines. 


What we can offer you: 

We are highly enthusiastic about mentoring and helping talented scholars achieve their scientific and career goals. We are supportive of all career ambitions beyond your postdoctoral studies, regardless of whether your goal is academia, industry, or another field. As such, we will work with scholars to ensure they are able to obtain technical skills, knowledge, and accomplishments that position them well for their future goals. Scholars are expected to publish papers in high-impact journals, attend and present at national and international meetings where they will compete for awards, and participate in scientific writing and/or grant writing. 


Projects available: 

Although it is expected that scholars may develop their own projects over time based on their scientific interests, the following funded projects are currently available:

1) Cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating cancer pain and antitumor immunity

2) Sexually dimorphic pain regulation and sex hormone control of pain signaling

3) Sensory neuron control of host immunity against infection 

4) Identification of objective biomarkers and mechanisms underlying chronic pain in humans

The above projects involve a variety of cutting-edge molecular techniques, including single cell/single nucleus RNA-sequencing on animal and human biofluids/tissues, in vitro and in vivo calcium imaging of live neurons, pain modeling and behavioral phenotyping in animal models, flow cytometry and cell sorting, confocal microscopy, and many standard molecular/biochemical techniques. Thus, the right individual will emerge from their training in our laboratory with an outstanding repertoire of knowledge and expertise using a wide array of techniques. 


Principal Responsibilities:

  • The candidate will work under the guidance of the Principal Investigator (PI) to assist in the development and implementation of research protocols in the above project areas and assist in daily project management. 
  • Candidates will be expected to be highly mentally engaged in their project, and should possess the ability to design, conduct, and troubleshoot experiments independently with minimal input from the PI. Candidates are expected to have a significant hand in the overall scope and execution of their scientific project.
  • Candidates should be willing to learn a variety of techniques involving animal (primarily mouse) models, including: familiarity with molecular genetic techniques involving transgenic and genetically modified mice and their genotyping/characterization; surgical and non-surgical methods to establish mouse models of pain, inflammation, and/or cancer; behavioral assessments of sensory, motor, and cognitive function; targeted drug delivery and pharmacologic manipulations; and procurement of tissues for downstream cell culture, histology, RNA-sequencing, and other biochemical/molecular experiments. 
  • Candidates should also be willing to conduct experiments using human-derived biofluids and tissues, and complete relevant biosafety and IRB training when requested. 
  • Due to the collaborative nature of our work, applicants must be comfortable working with multidisciplinary research teams, and should be highly organized, collegial, and conduct themselves in a highly professional manner. 
  • Attendance at lab meetings, project meetings, relevant collaborative meetings, and Center/Departmental research seminars/events is also expected. 
  • Applicants will be expected to maintain high-fidelity records and documentation of all research and professional activities and conduct themselves with high moral and ethical principles, congruent with policies outlined by the Duke Office of Scientific Integrity. 
  • Proficiency in Word, Excel, and Powerpoint is expected. Proficiency using additional software such as Graphpad/Prism, ImageJ, Imaris, R, and other relevant software is not required but is advantageous. Applicants should also have familiarity with basic statistical methods.
  • The applicant will be expected to have verbal and written communication skills which are suitable to achieve their project responsibilities. Prior experience with scientific writing, including both grant and manuscript writing, is highly preferred. 


Minimum Education/Degree Requirements: 

Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate (e.g. Sc.D., M.D., D.V.M., D.D.S/D.M.D.) in a biomedical sciences-related discipline, preferably in a neuroscience, pharmacology, cellular/molecular biology, immunology, or bioinformatics. If the candidate has completed all the requirements for a degree, but the degree has not been formally conferred, the candidate may present evidence of completion of the degree requirements, together with a statement documenting the date on which the degree is to be conferred.


Other Credential/Experiential Requirements:  

  • The incumbent must be a true post-doctoral fellow registered with the Post Doc Office and per the following requirements:
  • The term of this appointment is limited (5 years with a possible extension for an additional year)
  • The appointment involves substantially full-time research or scholarship, which may include teaching responsibilities.
  • The appointment is viewed as preparatory for a full time academic or research career.
  • The appointment is not part of a clinical research training program, unless research training under the supervision of a senior mentor is a primary purpose of the appointment.
  • The appointee works under the supervision of a scholar or a department at Duke University.
  • The appointee has the freedom and is expected to publish the results of his or her research or scholarship during the period of the appointment.


To apply, candidates will need to upload their current CV, cover letter, and a list of 3-5 references who can speak to the candidate’s suitability for this position using the following link:


Additional Information:

 Established in 1930, Duke University School of Medicine is the youngest of the nation’s top medical schools. Ranked tenth among its peers, the School takes pride in being an inclusive community of outstanding learners, investigators, clinicians, and staff where traditional barriers are low, interdisciplinary collaboration is embraced, and great ideas accelerate translation of fundamental scientific discoveries to improve human health locally and around the globe.

Comprised of 2,400 faculty physicians and researchers, the Duke University School of Medicine along with the Duke University School of Nursing and Duke University Health System create Duke Health. Duke Health is a world-class health care network. Founded in 1998 to provide efficient, responsive care, the health system offers a full network of health services and encompasses Duke University Hospital, Duke Regional Hospital, Duke Raleigh Hospital, Duke Primary Care, Private Diagnostic Clinic, Duke Home and Hospice, Duke Health and Wellness, and multiple affiliations.

Duke University is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer committed to providing employment opportunity without regard to an individual's age, color, disability, gender, gender expression, gender identity, genetic information, national origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status. 

Duke aspires to create a community built on collaboration, innovation, creativity, and belonging. Our collective success depends on the robust exchange of ideas-an exchange that is best when the rich diversity of our perspectives, backgrounds, and experiences flourishes. To achieve this exchange, it is essential that all members of the community feel secure and welcome, that the contributions of all individuals are respected, and that all voices are heard. All members of our community have a responsibility to uphold these values. 

Essential Physical Job Functions: Certain jobs at Duke University and Duke University Health System may include essential job functions that require specific physical and/or mental abilities. Additional information and provision for requests for reasonable accommodation will be provided by each hiring department.

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