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Visiting Graduate Student Researcher – Brain Targeting Program in vitro BBB modeling

About the Wyss: 

The mission of the Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University is to transform human healthcare and the environment by emulating the way nature builds. Developed as an alliance between Harvard and other premier academic and clinical partner institutions, Institute faculty and staff collaborate in high-risk, fundamental research and science-driven technology development. A major focus of the Institute is to translate the technologies developed by its faculty and staff into commercial products and therapies through collaborations with clinical investigators and establishment of corporate alliances. For more information, visit:

Role Description:

The Wyss Institute for Biologically Inspired Engineering at Harvard University invites applications for a Visiting Graduate Student Researcher beginning in September 2023 for a period of 6-12 months in the Brain Targeting Program (BTP). The position will focus on the molecular mechanisms underlying the contribution of blood-brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction to AD pathogenesis.

The Wyss Institute’s BTP, co-led by Donald Ingber, M.D., Ph.D. and James Gorman, M.D., Ph.D., focuses on developing novel platform that leverages in vitro human Organ Chips constituted of human BBB cells differentiated from induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells. The BTP uses advanced in vitro and in vivo BBB models to study the transport of molecules across the human BBB into the central nervous system. One of its core projects is to develop an isogenic iPSC-derived in vitro BBB model of normal human subjects and of subjects with early-onset AD (EOAD) and late-onset AD (LOAD) with astrocytes, pericytes and endothelium all being derived from the same patient. This personalized BBB model will be used to examine the impact of early- and late-onset genetic variants on BBB function, and define the molecular pathways impacted by these variants.

Applicants should also have knowledge of the brain, understand basic stem cell biology, and be able to perform some cell culture experiments if required. The candidate will have one primary mentor. The candidate can expect rigorous training, exposure to multiple disciplines and in-depth learning about the BBB, preparing them to pursue academic or biopharmaceutical careers.

The position is unpaid. The applicant must either receive academic credit for the internship and be able to fund their own travel and living expenses, OR have secured an external source of fellowship support if there is no academic credit being granted for the internship.

Key Responsibilities:

  • Research scientific literature to understand the role of the BBB in Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Differentiating iPSC into brain endothelial cells to create an in vitro blood-brain barrier model.
  • Summarize, present, and share key findings with an interdisciplinary, scientific team in a cogent, organized manner.
  • Collaborate with other researchers to address and solve new challenges and unanticipated problems as they arise.
  • Demonstrate a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and cultural awareness through actions, interactions, and communications with others.

What You’ll Need:

  • Must hold a BS or MS degree in the field of Biology, Neuroscience, Bioengineering, or a closely related discipline. PhD holders are not eligible for this position.
  • Soft Skills: communication, adaptability, independent thinking, efficiency, self-drive
  • Computer Skills: Microsoft Office (Word, PowerPoint, Excel), Google products
  • Scientific Skills: design and implementation of scientific protocols, analysis of scientific literature and datasets, knowledge of proteins / genes / neurodegenerative disorders
  • Experience with cell culture; experience with iPS differentiation or primary cell culture is a plus.
  • Experience with Transwell or microfluidic assays is a strong benefit.

Where You Can Apply

Applications, assembled as a single PDF file, should contain a complete resume and a cover letter describing research interests, goals, and why you would be a good fit for this position. Applications should be sent to using the subject line “Visiting Graduate Student Researcher – Brain Targeting Program in vitro BBB modeling”.

Working Conditions

Harvard requires COVID vaccination for all Harvard community members. Individuals may claim exemption from the vaccine requirement for medical or religious reasons. More information regarding the University’s COVID vaccination requirement, exemptions, and verification of vaccination status may be found at the University’s “COVID-19 Vaccine Information” webpage:

Harvard University is an equal opportunity employer and all qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability status, protected veteran status, gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy and pregnancy-related conditions, or any other characteristic protected by law. Demonstrates a commitment to diversity, inclusion, and cultural awareness through actions, interactions, and communications with others.

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