Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)

Postdoctoral Associate - Structural Biology - Ruta Lab

Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI)

New York, United States

A Postdoctoral Associate position is available in the laboratory of Vanessa Ruta at the Rockefeller University to study the structural basis of odor recognition.  The Ruta Lab applies a broad multidisciplinary approach to examine olfactory processing in insects, from the biophysical basis for odor detection to the behavioral algorithms underlying olfactory plume navigation.  A current focus of the lab is to define the structural and mechanistic basis of odorant signaling in insect olfactory receptors using biochemistry, cryo-EM, computational docking, and functional assays to reveal insight into how this large and highly divergent family of ion channels can recognize the vast chemical world.  In recent work, the Ruta lab determined the first structure of an insect olfactory receptor elucidating their basic architecture (Butterwick et al., Nature, 2018) and revealed insight into the structural basis for promiscuous odor detection (del Marmol et al., Nature, 2021).  Ongoing work, funded by generous support from HHMI, NIAID, and the Gates Foundation will reveal broader principles of how odors are recognized, by determining the structures of additional receptors tuned to different odorants and exploring the underlying structural basis for their chemical tuning through a combination of molecular docking and functional assays.  The goal of this work will be to reveal basic insight into the structural basis of chemical recognition in this family, laying the foundation for the rational design of novel classes of insect repellents and the development of electronic ‘noses’ for detection of environmental chemicals. 

This is an ideal opportunity for talented biochemists/structural biologists interested in linking structural biology to sensory neuroscience who would enjoy being embedded in a diverse and highly collaborative group.  This position also provides an opportunity to work in close collaboration with a broader network of computational chemists and bioengineers to translate basic insights about chemical detection to the development of repellents or electronic ‘noses’.  Past Ruta lab postdoctoral associates have been highly successful in moving to independent academic careers.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • Ph.D. in structural biology, biochemistry, or a related discipline is required

  • Experience in biochemistry of membrane proteins is required

  • Experience with cryo-EM and/or X-ray crystallography is required

  • Strong organizational and communication skills.

  • A creative thinker, excited to work in a dynamic interdisciplinary environment and be an active technical and conceptual contributor to a research program.

  • Capable of working both independently and within a small team.

The salary for this role (Associate 00) in the city of New York is $54,835 (minimum) – $63,060 (midpoint) – $71,286 (maximum).


HHMI’s salary structure is developed based on relevant market data. HHMI considers a candidates’ education, previous experiences, knowledge, skills and abilities, as well as internal equity when making job offers. Typically, a new Postdoctoral Associate (Associate 00) is compensated between the minimum and the midpoint of the salary range. 

Physical Requirements

Remaining in a normal seated or standing position for extended periods of time; reaching and grasping by extending hand(s) or arm(s); dexterity to manipulate objects with fingers, for example using a keyboard; communication skills using the spoken word; ability to see and hear within normal parameters; ability to move about workspace. The position requires mobility, including the ability to move materials weighing up to several pounds (such as a laptop computer or tablet). Work may involve possible exposure to malodorous vapors, contamination by toxic chemicals and acids and presence of carcinogenic substances.

Persons with disabilities may be able to perform the essential duties of this position with reasonable accommodation. Requests for reasonable accommodation will be evaluated on an individual basis.

Please Note:

This job description sets forth the job’s principal duties, responsibilities, and requirements; it should not be construed as an exhaustive statement, however.  Unless they begin with the word “may,” the Essential Duties and Responsibilities described above are “essential functions” of the job, as defined by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Please apply via recruiter’s website.

Quote Reference: R-852