Postdoctoral Associate in Genetic Approaches to Spinal Cord Injury and Repair

Postdoctoral Associate in Genetic Approaches to Spinal Cord Injury and Repair

Temple University

Philadelphia, PA, United States

The Spence Lab within the Department of Bioengineering at Temple University is seeking a Postdoctoral Scholar to uncover the mechanisms of enhanced recovery from spinal cord injury using techniques from synthetic biology (chemogenetics; DREADDs) and regenerative neuroscience (viral transduction), alongside genetic tracing and histological analyses, electrophysiology, kinematic analyses, and novel robotic instrumentation. The two year position is available immediately through December 2020.

Funded by a Shriner’s Hospitals for Children grant, the work will seek to use chemogenetic tools (DREADDs) to excite and inhibit specific classes of sensory afferents in walking rats to enhance recovery from a model spinal cord injury, and to understand the basic contribution of these afferents to movement in intact mammals. We will subsequently use genetic tracing techniques to identify mechanisms of plasticity within spinal cord circuitry. Our approach combines the latest in genetic techniques (chemogenetics using DREADDs, and potentially optogenetics) with a robotic treadmill and computer vision tracking for kinematics, to get at important basic and applied questions in motor control and spinal cord injury. Experience in areas of recovery surgery and rodent behavior, electrophysiology, spinal cord circuitry and afferent systems, and/or kinematics, computer vision and robotics, are all beneficial but not necessarily required. The Spence lab is currently a vibrant group with three phd students and a host of undergraduate scholars, in the great city of Philadelphia, with strong ties to the Temple Medical School and Shriners Pediatric Neuroscience Research Center (Prof. G. Smith) and Prof. Michel Lemay’s group within Bioengineering.

Functions will include, but will not be limited to:

1. Running experiments and developing, adapting, and implementing novel research techniques.

2. Attend and present data at domestic/international meetings, seminars, and journal clubs.

3. Assist in preparation of grant proposals.

4. Prepare publications, abstracts, and oral/poster presentations.

5. Contribute to a positive intellectual environment, mentor PhD students and other lab members, work to maintain a friendly and welcoming atmosphere.

Minimum requirements for the position include:

§ Completion of Ph.D. with expertise in neuroscience, bioengineering, physiology, biomechanics, spinal cord circuitry, molecular genetics, robotics, or similar field having bearing on movement science, broadly defined.

§ Strong desire to learn about/study the role of afferent feedback in successful locomotion, recovery from spinal cord injury, and spinal cord circuit plasticity

§ Willingness and ability to work with rats in locomotor and behavioral experiments and to perform (or learn to perform) recovery surgeries in the rat model.

§ Ability to perform or learn cell and molecular biology techniques as required to utilize or generate chemogenetic (DREADDs) constructs, perform immunohistochemistry, fluorescence microscopy, cloning, and viral packaging.

§ Strong, proactive work ethic and friendly, cooperative demeanor.

§ Outstanding problem solving skills.


The position offers salary consistent with NIH guidelines and a competitive benefits package.

To apply, please email Dr. Andrew Spence at


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Postdoctoral Associate in Genetic Approaches to Spinal Cord Injury and Repair