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Duke University and Duke University Health System require all students, faculty and staff to receive the COVID-19 and influenza vaccines.  After you have officially accepted a position at Duke, you may request a religious or medical accommodation.


Work Arrangement: 
Requisition Number:  215788
Regular or Temporary:  Regular

Durham, NC, US, 27710

Personnel Area:  MEDICAL CENTER
Date:  Mar 14, 2023

This position is Grant Funded

School of Medicine Established in 1930, Duke University School of Medicine is the youngest of the nation's top medical schools. Ranked sixth among medical schools in the nation, the School takes pride in being an inclusive community of outstanding learners, investigators, clinicians, and staff where interdisciplinary collaboration is embraced and great ideas accelerate translation of fundamental scientific discoveries to improve human health locally and around the globe. Composed of more than 2,500 faculty physicians and researchers, more than 1,300 students, and more than 6,000 staff, the Duke University School of Medicine along with the Duke University School of Nursing, Duke University Health System and the Private Diagnostic Clinic (PDC) comprise Duke Health. a world-class academic medical center. The Health System encompasses Duke University Hospital, Duke Regional Hospital, Duke Raleigh Hospital, Duke Primary Care, Duke Home and Hospice, Duke Health and Wellness, and multiple affiliations.


The Duke Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI) performs basic and translational research to fight against major infectious diseases. DHVI is composed of a team of highly interactive investigators that have expertise in mucosal and systemic immunology, virology, molecular and structural biology, computational biology, and animal medicine; working collaboratively to develop vaccines and countermeasures against pathogens like HIV, SARS-CoV-2, and influenza.

The Saunders Lab is seeking a Research Associate Senior to join our team in developing HIV vaccines, including advancing our vaccine platform of sortase-conjugated HIV-1 Env nanoparticles. This team member would lead the team working on this program to produce vaccines for preclinical proof-of-concept studies in small and large animal models. This individual will work directly with our manufacturing team to transfer knowledge and technical expertise to the process development and manufacturing teams. Moreover, Research Associate Senior will present research progress to internal and external scientific bodies including financial sponsors. Overall, this position will be a lead scientist in translational vaccine research that culminates with a Phase I clinical trial.



  • Independently execute complex scientific projects within the Saunders laboratory. Serve as the point person for the Integrated Preclinical/Clinical AIDS Vaccine Development Program and coordinate collaborative science among investigators within DHVI and externally to effectively meet the scientific milestones and project deadlines. These activities may entail interpretation of new data and optimization of new assays.
  • Optimize protein purification strategies for research-grade vaccine constructs destined for preclinical vaccine studies. This work will include resin screening and buffer optimization.
  • Express and purify viral proteins, nanoparticles, antibodies, and host proteins by transient transfection, lentiviral transduction, or stable cell line generation.
  • Construct conjugate nanoparticle immunogens using conjugation methods developed in the lab.
  • Perform liter scale cell culture.
  • Adapt and optimize transient transfection cell lines to various culture conditions for improved protein expression.
  • Work independently to characterize the biochemical nature and antigenicity of recombinant viral proteins. Immunoassays will include flow cytometry, biolayer interferometry, surface plasmon resonance, Luminex, and ELISA. Protein characterization assays will include analytical size exclusion chromatography, SDS-PAGE, Western blots, and nanoDSF.
  • Characterize cellular and humoral immune responses generated in vaccinated animal models.
  • Analyses of DNA and protein sequences.
  • Provide guidance and oversight to junior scientists.
  • Accurately document research experiments in a laboratory notebook.
  • Prepare presentations detailing research findings to internal working groups as well as external funding organizations.
  • Serve as a liaison between research and process development teams within this Program.
  • Perform preventative maintenance on laboratory equipment as required.
  • Perform other related duties to maintain laboratory operations as necessary and requested.
  • Read scientific literature to increase scientific knowledge about current and future projects.



  • A Ph.D. or equivalent doctorate in biological science, chemistry, or related field is required
  • A minimum of 5 years of related laboratory experience including basic molecular and cellular biology techniques such as molecular cloning, PCR, DNA mutagenesis, and tissue culture
  • Excellent oral and written communication skills
  • Must be team oriented and able to work effectively in a highly collaborative work environment
  • Must be able to manage multiple and rapidly changing priorities and have the ability to learn and apply new skills and concepts
  • Must be detail-oriented and well-organized


Duke 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 essentialjob 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.


Nearest Major Market: Durham
Nearest Secondary Market: Raleigh