Postdoctoral Positions: Decoding RNA Machines in Living Cells and Human Diseases

Postdoctoral Positions: Decoding RNA Machines in Living Cells and Human Diseases

USC School of Pharmacy

Los Angeles, CA, United States

Postdoctoral Positions: Decoding RNA Machines in Living Cells and Human Diseases

About the Lu lab at USC

Postdoctoral positions are immediately available in Dr. Zhipeng Lu lab at USC School of Pharmacy, Department of Pharmacology and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Our research is focused on “RNA machines” in living cells. We develop and apply novel technologies to understand the structures and functions of RNA molecules in basic cellular processes, with the ultimate goal of targeting human diseases, including genetic disorders, cancers and viral infections.

We have recently developed a new technology, PARIS (Psoralen Analysis of RNA Interactions and Structures), a crosslinking based method for high throughput mapping of RNA duplexes in living cells at single-molecule level with near base-pair resolution (Lu et al. 2016 Cell, This work was featured on the cover of Cell, the cover of Best of Cell 2016 (, and a video abstract “Get an Eye-full (Eiffel)” (, see also Our analysis of noncoding RNAs has led to the identification of structural targets that have been employed in drug screens for treating human genetic disorders. A more complete description of our science can be found at

Our work has had a broad impact on the field and has been highlighted in Nature Methods, Nature Chemical Biology, Molecular Cell, and Trends in Biochemical Sciences. As a result, the PI has received numerous awards, including the Damon Runyon-Sohn Fellowship, the Stanford Jump Start Award, the RNA Society Scaringe Award, and the NIH K99/R00 Pathway to Independence Award.

Job Descriptions

Current projects in the lab span the development of new computational and chemical tools for the analysis of RNA structures and interactions, and application of these technologies to important problems in the RNA field. We also welcome and support novel and unconventional ideas that are related to the current work in the lab. In particular, we are seeking highly motivated postdoctoral fellows to work on questions in the following 3 directions: structures and functions of RNAs in neurological disorders, cancers and RNA virus infections.

1. The neurological disorder direction. We have discovered new links between noncoding RNAs and neurological disorders and are using mouse models and human brain organoid models to study the molecular mechanisms and etiology of these diseases. Interested candidates are expected have relevant experience some of these following areas: stem cell research, mouse genetics, neuroscience, organoids, and CRISPR-Cas genome editing.

2. Structural basis of cancer mRNAs. We have developed methods for direct analysis of RNA structures and interactions and are applying these methods to systematically solve structures and interactions for the mRNAs of all cancer-driver genes. This project will reveal new mechanisms in cancer development and inform new strategies in drug development. Interested candidates are expected to have relevant experience in molecular biology, cancer biology, high throughput sequencing and analysis. Programming experience is a plus.

3. Structural basis of RNA virus infections. Our PARIS method has enabled the direct analysis of how RNA genomes of viruses regulate various aspects of infections, a fundamental problem in virology that has been mostly intractable up to now. We are using the PARIS method to discover and investigate the basic mechanisms that control virus life cycle, and host-pathogen interactions. Interested candidates should have relevant experience in RNA virology. Experience in high throughput sequencing and analysis is a plus.

Research in the Lu lab is highly interdisciplinary and collaborative. Postdocs are exposed to research questions and techniques in the forefront of various fields centered on RNA, and human disease models including rodents and human organoid culture. This training environment is exceptionally valuable for individuals who are interested in pursuing careers in academia or scientific leadership positions in the pharmaceutical industry. The PI is fully committed to empowering trainees with the capabilities to fulfill their ambitions.

General requirements. Candidates should have a Ph.D. and/or an M.D. and less than two years of postdoctoral experience. Candidates with a wide range of expertise are welcome as evidenced by publications. Candidates are expected to be fluent in English speaking and writing.

To apply, please send a cover letter discussing your interests in the position, your CV, and contact information for three references to, and submit applications using the USC web portal:

Environment and Disclaimers

Postdoctoral fellows are supported by steady funding in the next 3 years, with a salary set by NIH scale and experience, plus employment benefits at USC ( USC School of Pharmacy is located in Health Sciences Campus, immediately adjacent to the USC Keck School of Medicine, Caltech and UCLA. This rich scientific environment provides unique research training opportunities, such as research seminars given by leaders in science from throughout the U.S. and abroad, opportunities for collaborations, exposure to diverse research programs, and highly sophisticated core facilities.

USC is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, protected veteran status, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law or USC policy. USC will consider for employment all qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with the requirements of the Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring ordinance. We provide reasonable accommodations to applicants and employees with disabilities. Applicants with questions about access or requiring a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application or hiring process should contact USC Human Resources by phone at (213) 821-8100, or by email at Inquiries will be treated as confidential to the extent permitted by law.

Please apply via recruiter’s website.