Research Assistant I - Computational Neurobiology Laboratory, Dr. Maria Margarita Behrens

Salk Institute for Biological Studies
La Jolla, CA

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Application Instructions:

Employment History Include your last ten (10) years of employment history, or length of your employment history if less, including all positions (even those that are not relevant to this position) and periods of unemployment. Incomplete information could disqualify you from further consideration.


The Research Assistant I position, with general instruction on routine work, will carry out a variety of basic and specialized molecular biology techniques in support of the lab goals. Duties include: focus on brain slicing and dissection, nuclei production and sorting for multiomics analysis, protein biochemistry and image analysis.  The successful candidate will work approximately 75% of the time on funded projects and the rest on support postdoctoral researchers in the lab. Additionally, the position will be responsible for establishing conditions for in situ hybridization using RNAScope.  The position will require training in brain slicing, nuclei production and sorting, neuronal imaging and analysis, and in specific techniques and methods in order to execute experiments that are broadly designed by the PI or postdoctoral researchers.  Following training, the successful candidate must be able to carry out and analyze experimental results independently with limited instruction for routine work.  The overall goal of the research is to understand the developmental regulation of DNA methylation in neurons and the long-term consequences of its alteration.


Tissue Culture (10%)

  • Independently maintains cultures of neuronal/glial cells obtained from differentiation of embryonic neural precursors.

Molecular Biology Techniques (25%)

  • Perform various techniques in molecular biology such as: RNA extraction and analysis.
  • DNA extraction and analysis.
  • PCR and rtPCR.
  • Maxi preps.
  • Gel Electrophoresis.
  • Recombinant DNA techniques.
  • lmmunoprecipitation for mass spectrometry

Histology (15%)

  • Perform various immunofluorescence protocols on fixed brain tissue.
  • Analyze cells/spines using various fluorescent and confocal microscopes for high power imaging.

Tissue dissection and nuclei preparation (40%)

  • Independently slices and dissects brain tissue.
  • Independently prepares cellular nuclei from brain tissue

Lab Support (10%)

  • Performs quality control of reagents as needed.
  • Trains and assists other lab personnel on research techniques and use of laboratory equipment.
  • Attends staff meetings and assist with general problem solving.
  • Assists in Hazardous, Biohazardous and waste disposal.
  • Assists with maintaining laboratory safety records.
  • Maintains laboratory supplies and equipment.



  • No professional experience required with relevant Bachelor’s degree or above.


  • Additional years of relevant professional experience in a lab setting.
  • Fundamental skills and experience in neuroscience, molecular biology, cell culture, and image analysis.
  • Demonstrated experience and knowledge of protein- and biochemistry techniques, image analysis and brain handling.
  • Proficient in the operation of standard lab equipment and computer hardware/software.



  • Bachelor’s degree in biological sciences or related field, or equivalent


  • Neuroscience specialization.



  • Theoretical and hands on knowledge of histology and molecular biology techniques.
  • Demonstrated knowledge and experience in researching information and analyzing data to arrive at valid conclusions.
  • Ability to manage and track large numbers of samples meticulously.
  • Skill in the operation and maintenance of various lab equipment.
  • Demonstrated knowledge and experience with both PC and MAC operating systems, standard business office equipment and commonly used software and tools, such as Microsoft Office, electronic mail, and the internet.
  • Proficiency with common office software applications as well as software applications used for research, recording, and analysis.
  • Highly organized, effective at multitasking, adept at juggling changing priorities and able to prioritize.
  • Proven ability to work both independently and also as part of a collaborative team.
  • Excellent communication skills, both oral and written.
  • Strong interpersonal skills, including tact, diplomacy, and flexibility.
  • Demonstrated ability to interact effectively with diverse groups. Demonstrated skill in establishing and maintaining effective working relationships with personnel at all levels.


  • Subcellular fractionation and cell cytometry.


  • Must be willing to work in an animal-related research environment.
  • Must be willing to work with primary cultures obtained from mouse embryos and complete all appropriate associated training.
  • Must be willing to work independently and must have a flexible schedule to support research needs.
  • Satisfactory completion of the Institute’s background investigation.
  • Must be willing to sign a confidentiality agreement.


This position requires constant adjusting focus, seeing, sitting, touching/feeling, and working inside. 


Working at Salk Institute for Biological Studies

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is one of the world's preeminent basic research institutions, where internationally renowned faculty probe fundamental life science questions in a unique, collaborative, and creative environment. Focused on both discovery and mentoring future generations of researchers, Salk scientists make groundbreaking contributions to our understanding of cancer, aging, Alzheimer's, diabetes, and cardiovascular disorders by studying neuroscience, genetics, cell and plant biology, and related disciplines.

Faculty achievements have been recognized with numerous honors, including Nobel Prizes and memberships in the National Academy of Sciences. Founded in 1960 by polio vaccine pioneer Jonas Salk, M.D., the Institute is an independent nonprofit organization and architectural landmark.

Salk Equal Opportunity and Non-Discrimination Statement

The Salk Institute for Biological Studies is committed to providing equal access to opportunities for students, employees, applicants for employment and other persons.

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Reasonable accommodation is available for qualified individuals with disabilities and for individuals with religious restrictions.

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