Scientist I - Cellular Actions of Psychedelics on Human Brain

Employer: Allen Institute
Date Posted: Mar 03, 2022
Employment: Full Time
Focus / Industry:
Seattle, Washington, USA
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Scientist I – Cellular Actions of Psychedelics on Human Brain

The mission of the Allen Institute is to unlock the complexities of bioscience and advance our knowledge to improve human health. Using an open science, multi-scale, team-oriented approach, the Allen Institute focuses on accelerating foundational research, developing standards and models, and cultivating new ideas to make a broad, transformational impact on science.

The mission of the Allen Institute for Brain Science is to accelerate the understanding of how the human brain works in health and disease. Using a big science approach, we generate useful public resources, drive technological and analytical advances, and discover fundamental brain properties through integration of experiments, modeling, and theory.

We are seeking a Scientist I with cellular neuroscience and patch-clamp recording expertise to join a new translational project at the Allen Institute for Brain Science that aims to decipher the cellular mechanisms of action of psilocybin and related serotonergic psychedelic compounds on human cortical neuron types. Surprisingly, virtually nothing is known about the cellular level responses of human brain cell types to these substances, which constitutes a critical shortcoming given that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted psilocybin Breakthrough Therapy Designation for treatment-resistant depression and for major depressive disorders in 2018-2019. There are more than three dozen ongoing clinical trials investigating the therapeutic potential for treating a wide array of disorders including but not limited to major depressive disorders, anxiety, migraine, and chronic pain, OCD, anorexia, mild cognitive impairment, alcohol use disorder, etc. It is therefore essential that we begin to understand the action of these psychoactive compounds on the human brain rather than assume conservation of drug action from rodent to human. This project will leverage deep Institute knowledge on cell types in the human brain together with cutting-edge approaches for multimodal cell type characterization to uncover new knowledge about psilocybin action on brain cell types. The Scientist I hire will apply single neuron patch-clamp electrophysiology, specifically Patch-seq, to investigate cell-type-specific actions of psilocybin in the human and mouse neocortex. Human ex vivo brain slices are obtained by informed consent from patients undergoing neurosurgery for tumor removal or temporal lobe epilepsy as part of established collaboration with local hospitals and surgeons. The chosen candidate will work within a small research team with deep expertise in human cellular neurophysiology and large-scale data generation and analysis. It is our goal that the proposed pioneering studies may reveal important new insights on the cellular mechanism of action and therapeutic potential of psilocybin and related compounds for treating debilitating neurological and psychiatric disorders in humans.

The Allen Institute believes that team science significantly benefits from the participation of diverse voices, experiences, and backgrounds. High-quality science can only be produced when it includes different perspectives. We are committed to increasing diversity across every team and encourage people from all backgrounds to apply for this role.

Essential Functions

  • Perform single neuron Patch-seq experiments in human and mouse acute brain slices
  • Explore correlations in physiological, morphological, molecular, and synaptic properties of single neurons and delineate mechanisms of drug action
  • Analyze multimodal data and generate data visualizations to convey findings. Lead efforts to write grants, present at scientific meetings, and publish research findings in peer-reviewed journals
  • Develop comprehensive solutions for data management, storage, and analysis
  • Maintain and operate a state-of-the-art patch-clamp electrophysiology rig
  • On-site laboratory work according to brain tissue availability; evening hours as needed.
  • Uphold rigorous standards, including detailed digital and/or printed lab notebook records of all experiments.
  • Present a periodic summary of progress to the project leadership and Institute peers.

Note: Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. This description reflects management’s assignment of essential functions; it does not proscribe or restrict the tasks that may be assigned.

Required Education And Experience

  • PhD in neuroscience, physiology, or related disciplines; or equivalent combination of degree and experience
  • Expertise in brain slice patch-clamp electrophysiology and associated methods
  • Basic knowledge of molecular biology as needed to understand the Patch-seq technique
  • Proven record of research productivity, e.g., peer-reviewed publications in respected journals
  • Proficiency in MS Office programs i.e., Word, Excel, Powerpoint
  • Experience with Python/Jupyter, Igor, R studio, or other relevant coding languages

Preferred Education And Experience

  • Highly motivated researcher, comfortable operating independently?
  • Experience with Patch-seq technique or handling of labile RNA samples
  • Experience with synaptic physiology and/or pharmacology
  • Experience with histology and immunohistochemistry
  • Knowledge of brain anatomy and/or neocortical cell types
  • Experience working with psychedelic drugs
  • Excellent organizational and communication skills
  • Ability to work in a timeline, milestone-driven, and team-centric environment

Work Environment

  • Laboratory environment, including potential exposure to lasers, biohazards, live animals

Physical Demands

  • Occasional lifting up to 30 pounds
  • Fine motor movements in fingers/hands to operate computers and other office equipment; repetitive motion with lab equipment

Position Type/Expected Hours of Work

  • Occasional evening and weekend hours required
  • This role is currently working onsite and remotely when possible, due to COVID-19 and our focus on employee safety. We continue to evaluate the safest options for our employees.

Additional Comments

  • **Please note, this opportunity does not sponsor work visas **
  • **Please note, this opportunity offersrelocation assistance**

It is the policy of the Allen Institute to provide equal employment opportunity (EEO) to all persons regardless of age, color, national origin, citizenship status, physical or mental disability, race, religion, creed, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, genetic information, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law. In addition, the Allen Institute will provide reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities.

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Last updated: Nov 21, 2023