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Postdoctoral Position in Structural Cell Biology (Chen lab)

A postdoctoral position is available in the lab of Zhen Chen ( in the Division of Biology and Biological Engineering at the California Institute of Technology.

The Chen lab is currently seeking enthusiastic postdocs to join our efforts to understand reproduction biology at the atomic scale. We are integrating cryoFIB-SEM/cryoET, other cell biology and single-cell techniques to elucidate the mechanisms through which cells acquire novel functionalities during development. An exemplary question is how sperm build complex molecular machinery for the rhythmic flagellar motions during development. Additionally, new ideas/projects are welcome and constantly formulated through discussions with colleagues at Caltech, spanning a broad range of expertise and interests.

We welcome applicants from any of the following fields: chemical biology, biochemistry, cell biology, and structural biology since our research program will take advantage of the strengths of different approaches. The key qualification is a deep care/curiosity for molecular mechanisms. Previous training in developmental biology, and experience in single-cell transcriptomics and proteomics is an advantage. Meanwhile, you will be trained in these fields to develop an integrated structural biology approach.

The following papers illustrate the examples of combining different tools and approaches to study the functions of macromolecular complexes in the cellular context:

Chen, Z.^, Shiozaki, M., Haas, K., Skinner, W. M., Zhao, S., Guo, C., Polacco, B. J., Yu, Z., Krogan, N. J., Lishko, P. V., Kaake, R., Vale, R. D.^ & Agard, D. A.^ De novo protein identification in mammalian sperm using high-resolution in situ cryo-electron tomography. Cell 186, 5041-5053 (2023) (^ co-corresponding authors).

Chen, Z., Greenan, G. A., Shiozaki, M., Liu, Y., Skinner, W., Zhao, X., Zhao, S., Yan, R., Guo, C., Yu, Z., Lishko, P. V., Agard, D. A. & Vale, R. D. In situ cryo-electron tomography reveals the asymmetric architecture of mammalian sperm axonemes. Nat. Struct. Mol. Biol. 30, 360-369 (2023).

Chen, Z., Suzuki, H., Kobayashi, Y., Wang, A. C., Dimaio, F., Kawashima, S. A., Walz, T., Kapoor, T. M. Structural insights into Mdn1, an essential AAA protein required for ribosome biogenesis. Cell 175, 822-834 (2018).

Kawashima, S. A.*, Chen, Z.*, Aoi, Y., Patgiri, A., Kobayashi, Y., Nurse, P. & Kapoor, T. M. Potent, reversible and specific chemical inhibitors of eukaryotic ribosome biogenesis. Cell 167, 512-524 (2016) (* equal contributions).

Please send a cover letter describing your interests, CV, and contact information for three references to Zhen ([email protected]).

The California Institute of Technology

Caltech is consistently ranked among the top research universities in the world and hosts a diverse and collaborative scientific community. You will get the opportunity to interact with colleagues across different disciplines and different biological systems and develop your scientific career and interests. Caltech is located in Pasadena, California, a vibrant city 10 miles northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Hiring Range
$68,000 - $75,000

The salary of the finalist(s) selected for this role will be set based on a variety of factors, including but not limited to, experience, qualifications, skills, education, specialty, training, and internal equity.

As one of the largest employers in Pasadena, CA, Caltech is committed to providing comprehensive benefits to eligible employees and their eligible dependents. Our benefits package includes competitive compensation, health, dental, and vision insurance, retirement savings plans, generous paid time off, parental leave, tuition reimbursement, and more. Learn more about our benefits and who is eligible.

We are an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to age, race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, or national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by law.