Sample Preparation for Data-Rich Diagnostics – Post Doctoral Researcher

Team overview

The global COVID-19 pandemic has illuminated the urgent need for portable, low-cost, sensitive, accurate, and widely available diagnostics. Our interdisciplinary team in biomedical and electrical engineering (Prof. Karen C. Cheung, Prof. Lukas Chrostowski, Prof. Sudip Shekhar) has developed a silicon photonic biosensor technology that leverages semiconductor manufacturing economies of scale for integration into a mobile-integrated, portable device that brings the quantitative, data-rich diagnostics of laboratory assays to the point-of-need. In these biosensors, specificity is afforded by the detection chemistry with which the sensor surface is functionalized, and the sample containing the analyte to be measured is delivered to the microchip surface using microfluidics.  We are looking to grow our team, searching for applicants with experience in biological sample preparation for diagnostics.  Applicants need not have experience in photonics or electronics.  

Silicon photonic biosensors can detect a range of biomarker targets relevant to conditions including infectious diseases, cardiology, and neurology, and a key advantage of these biosensors over other technologies is the ability to multiplex measurements of several important biomarker analytes on the same chip. Multiplexed measurement of several biomarkers from the same sample is becoming increasingly important for diagnosis of — and patient stratification within — diseases and conditions for which levels of a single biomarker are not sufficient. We have designed devices with up to 16 multiplexed sensors on the same chip and are characterizing functionalization workflows, microfluidic designs, and sensor performance. The next key steps involve functionalizing the individual sensors to detect different biomarkers, and integrating microfluidic sample preparation into our assay development. 

The applicant who accepts this position will join our multidisciplinary team working to develop a portable biosensor built from state-of-the-art silicon photonics technology, in collaboration with the UBC startup company Dream Photonics. The applicant will bring experience in biological sample preparation to our team as we work to design silicon photonics-based diagnostic assays.

Job description 

The position is for a post-doctoral researcher who will work closely with the principal investigators of the interdisciplinary silicon photonic biosensor team. This multidisciplinary team consists of Principal Investigators (PIs) Prof. Karen Cheung, Prof. Lukas Chrostowski, and Prof Sudip Shekhar. Prof Cheung brings microfluidics and biomedical device expertise and oversees microfluidic delivery and assay development. Prof. Chrostowski brings lasers and silicon photonics expertise and oversees photonic device design and laser integration. Prof. Shekhar brings electronics expertise, and oversees the readout, detection, and signal processing electronics. Under direction of the PIs and in collaboration with our team of postdoctoral fellows, graduate, and undergraduate students, this new postdoctoral appointment will focus on preparation of clinical specimens for analysis using our silicon photonic biosensor system. The successful applicant will also work closely with the leadership team to define and manage project objectives, mentor graduate and undergraduate students, and aid in project management of our interdisciplinary team.

Candidates must have a PhD (granted in the last 5 years) in Biomedical Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Electrical Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, or a related discipline. Strong written and oral English communication skills are required. Experience working in interdisciplinary teams is strongly desired. Experience with biological sample preparation, diagnostic immunoassays, sensor calibration and analytical validation, and microfluidic devices is an asset. The applicant should be a self-driven leader and highly motivated researcher.

Work to be performed:

  • Designing and testing workflows and microfluidic devices to support analysis of clinical specimens (e.g., whole blood, plasma) using silicon photonic devices.
  • Designing workflows for stepwise analytical validation moving from simple (biomarkers in buffer solution) to complex (clinical specimens) media, including optimization of blocking protocols for specific detection.
  • Working with our interdisciplinary team to design and validate diagnostic assays with integrated sample preparation.
  • Mentoring and training graduate and undergraduate students.
  • Maintaining up-to-date records of project progress and assisting with project management.
  • Evaluating the promise and risks of possible sample preparation approaches, and providing feedback to help streamline and optimize these approaches. This will include identification of risks in the path to translation, and helping mitigate these risks.
  • Assisting in ensuring that our teams are following Good Laboratory Practice.

Qualifications desired:

  • Experience with biological sample preparation (e.g., whole blood, urine), preferably for diagnostic assays
  • Preferred experience with sample preparation using microfluidic devices
  • Experience with immunoassay development, ideally using label-free biosensing approaches
  • (preferred) Experience with sensor calibration and analytical validation techniques
  • (optional) Experience with microfluidic devices, microfabrication, and rapid prototyping of microdevices
  • Interest in project management and team leadership

Minimum requirements:

  • Doctorate degree in Biomedical Engineering, Chemical and Biological Engineering, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Electrical Engineering, Physics, Chemistry, or a related discipline
  • Exceptional candidates without a doctorate degree but with several years of equivalent experience can contact our team to discuss the availability of alternate positions
  • Graduating thesis in the field of microfluidic sample preparation or a related topic

To apply:

Please provide the following: a one-page letter of intent which includes a statement of your research interest, a detailed curriculum vitae, a PDF copy or a link to one of your recent and related peer-reviewed publications, and the names of three references.

Complete application packages should be directed to:

Dr. Samantha M. Grist


Subject Line: Postdoctoral Fellow, Photonic Biosensing Sample Prep



Reference Number

Please mention reference number GPS-56422 in all your correspondence about this Postdoctoral Fellow position.

This position will be supervised by

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