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Associate Principal Investigator, Microbiology/Virology (1826)

Employer
Battelle National Biodefense Inst
Location
Frederick, Maryland, US
Salary
Competitive
Closing date
May 28, 2024

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Sector
Academic / Research
Field
Informatics / GIS
Discipline
Genetics, Biology
Salary Type
Salary
Employment Type
Full time
Job DescriptionJob Description
BACKGROUND

The National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center (NBACC) is a one-of-a-kind facility dedicated to defending the nation against biological threats. Its work supports DHS and National biodefense preparedness planning, response, emerging threat characterization and bioforensic analyses. It is the first national laboratory created by DHS in response to biodefense gaps identified following the Amerithrax attacks of 2001 and has been operated by the Battelle National Biodefense Institute (BNBI) since 2006. Since its inception, NBACC and its staff have filled critical shortfalls in our scientific knowledge of biological agents needed to protect the public and defend the Nation from biological threats, whether naturally occurring, accidental, or deliberate and provided federal law enforcement with scientific data to support the investigation and attribution of biocrimes and protection of the US bioeconomy.

NBACC includes two centers: the National Bioforensic Analysis Center (NBFAC), which conducts the technical analyses in support of federal law enforcement investigations, and the National Biological Threat Characterization Center (NBTCC), which conducts experiments and studies to obtain data required for a better understanding of biological vulnerabilities and hazards. Together these centers offer a unique national resource for understanding the risks posed by biological agents and emerging technologies to inform biodefense policy and response planning and the operational capability to support the investigation, prosecution, and prevention of biocrimes and bioterrorism.

PRIMARY FUNCTION

Applies expertise in virology in collaboration with a team of scientists in the National Biological Threat Characterization Center (NBTCC) within the NBACC to perform research that addresses specific questions of national significance in support of biodefense preparedness, response, and recovery. Areas of research include a range of topics related to the physical, biological, molecular and/or pathogenic properties of viruses and/or viral vectors. Work will be performed in state-of-the-art laboratories. All facilities are fully equipped with a wide range of technologies required for biodefense and infectious disease research.

MINIMUM REQUIRED QUALIFICATIONS

• Requires a PhD (or equivalent) in a scientific discipline or engineering, and a minimum of 2 years related experience.

• Requires expertise in one or more of the following:

o Conducting laboratory research with viral agents encompassing proficiency in virus production methodologies, quantification assays (e.g., TCID50 and plaque assay), and other cell-based viral infection assays (e.g., immunofluorescent staining and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays [ELISA]).

o Experience with in vivo and/or ex vivo (e.g., ID50/LD50 studies of infectious agents, organoid/MPS systems, etc.).

o Proficiency in molecular virology techniques such as viral genome sequencing, PCR/RT-qPCR, viral and/or host gene expression analysis, reverse genetics systems, and/or CRISPR genome modification.

o Experience with recombinant molecular biology methods (e.g., pseudovirions, virus-like particles, bacterial/mammalian heterologous expression systems, or synthetic gene assembly techniques).

• Proficiency and clarity of oral and written communications are essential.

• Exemplary organizational skills with a proven track record of working effectively both independently and as a team player.

• Knowledge or experience with biocontainment facilities and procedures, laboratory safety, biosurety, and decontamination desirable.

• Skills and experience to support laboratory activities and work in accordance with NBACC's management system (e.g., ISO).

• Must be a citizen of the United States, able to obtain and maintain an interim secret clearance leading to a top-secret clearance, suitability for DHS, and a favorable adjudication of the Department of Justice (DoJ) for select agent access.

• Participation in the Immunization Program, Medical Surveillance Program, and enrollment in the Personnel Reliability Program (PRP) is required.

• May be required to participate in NBACC's alternative work and/or on-call schedule, dependent upon business needs.

PRIMARY RESPONSIBILITIES

• Performs laboratory research on a wide range of viral and toxin agents that may include application of viral reverse genetics systems, analysis of viral and/or host gene or protein expression, assessment of agent persistence in the environment, and assessment of virulence/ pathogenesis of viral agents in animal models.

• Contributes to efforts to maintain and expand NBTCC capabilities to execute research efforts that may include molecular virology, toxinology, eukaryotic genome editing, sequencing and bioinformatics, and/or the study of systems level virus-host interactions.

• Designs, implements, and leads virology related research projects aimed at addressing current biological threat characterization knowledge gaps, to include development of project plans, oversight of project teams, completion of deliverables within time and budget constraints, and compliance with all relevant legal, policy, regulatory and program requirements.

• Participates in the development and expansion of institutional capabilities for the characterization of protein and peptide toxins.

• Prepares technical reports and proposals, presentation materials, safety plans, schedules and other programmatic documents, ensuring that they are high quality, accurate, and address the requirements of the sponsor.

• Exercises judgment within broadly defined practices and policies in selecting methods and techniques for obtaining solutions.

• Willingness to work on problems of diverse scope in which analysis of data requires evaluation of identifiable factors, with expert knowledge of complex scientific principles and concepts.

• May determine methods and procedures on new assignments, while mentoring subordinates and/or technical personnel.

• Participates in the testing and evaluation of new technologies and protocols including writing and updating NBACC Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), work instructions and forms to improve NBACC's ability to serve its customers.

• Identifies departures from the Quality Management System (QMS) and initiates actions to investigate and prevent such occurrences.

• Provides analysis, opinions and interpretation, and issues reports.

• Develops, optimizes and validates new or modified methods and procedures.

• Ensures competence of staff to operate specific equipment or perform test (may issue Authorizations).

• Maintains and evaluates records of analysis and reviews laboratory results, plans and reports.

• Ensures that equipment, reagents and supplies are maintained and used properly.

• Directs, prioritizes, schedules, and provides technical expertise to staff to conduct work.

• Must be a team player, communicate clearly, be open to hearing ideas and suggestions from others, diffuse situations, and exercise empathy and patience with colleagues.

• Must have the ability to multi-task, maintain composure under pressure, and utilize effective time management skills to prioritize tasks.

• Must be a self-starter driven by an eagerness to succeed, maintain flexibility, adapt to change in a productive and positive manner, learn new concepts, and utilize critical thinking to resolve complex problems.

• Maintains appropriate records.

• Performs other assigned duties.

BNBI is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, color, religion, national origin, disability, protected Veteran status, age, or any other characteristic protected by law.

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