The University of British Columbia (UBC)

Sample Preparation for Data-Rich Diagnostics – Post Doctoral Researcher

The University of British Columbia (UBC)

Vancouver, Canada

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



This posting is for the UBC Vancouver campus in British Columbia, Canada.

Please refer to reference number NC-56422 during correspondence about this position. Please visit the researcher profile of the supervisor for this position to learn more about their research.

Equity and diversity are essential to academic excellence. An open and diverse community fosters the inclusion of voices that have been underrepresented or discouraged. We encourage applications from members of groups that have been marginalized on any grounds enumerated under the B.C. Human Rights Code, including sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, racialization, disability, political belief, religion, marital or family status, age, and/or status as a First Nation, Metis, Inuit, or Indigenous person.

About UBC
The University of British Columbia is a global centre for research and teaching, consistently ranked among the top 20 public universities in the world. Since 1915, UBC’s entrepreneurial spirit has embraced innovation and challenged the status quo. UBC encourages its students, staff and faculty to challenge convention, lead discovery and explore new ways of learning. At UBC, bold thinking is given a place to develop into ideas that can change the world.

Postdoctoral Fellows at UBC Vancouver
UBC is home to over 900 postdocs spanning all faculties and units across two campuses and a variety of affiliated hospitals, research centres, and sites, providing unparalleled opportunities to learn, discover and contribute in one’s own way. UBC’s Postdoctoral Fellows Office (PDFO) is committed to supporting the lives and career aspirations of our Postdocs, with the goal of enriching their experience at UBC and preparing them for the future. In addition to providing support and advocacy for all postdocs, the PDFO is dedicated to providing professional development opportunities that foster the development of soft skills needed in today’s professional environments, helping them secure future careers in their chosen fields.

About UBC’s Faculty of Applied Science
The Faculty of Applied Science comprises a unique constellation of disciplines – including the Schools of Architecture and Landscape Architecture, Community and Regional Planning and Nursing, as well as all engineering activities at both the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. Our work and the professional disciplines we represent span the entire human-centred built environment and innovation at all scales – from nanoscale electronic devices that power communications to the design of entire cities.

There has never been a more urgent time for our professions – as planners, architects, nurses and engineers – to come together to build upon our existing strengths and ambitions to ensure a thriving society, to make real impact locally and globally.

With a community of over 300 full-time faculty members and more than 8,600 students across our undergraduate and graduate programs, we shape the leaders and professions that shape the world.

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Sample Preparation for Data-Rich Diagnostics – Post Doctoral Researcher