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Research Associate II - Effects of Psychedelics on Human Cortical Cell Types

Department: Human Cell Types

Research Associate II – Effects of Psychedelics on Human Cortical Cell Types


The mission of the Allen Institute is to unlock the complexities of bioscience and advance our knowledge to improve human health. Using an open science, multi-scale, team-oriented approach, the Allen Institute focuses on accelerating foundational research, developing standards and models, and cultivating new ideas to make a broad, transformational impact on science.

The mission of the Allen Institute for Brain Science is to accelerate the understanding of how the human brain works in health and disease. Using a big science approach, we generate useful public resources, drive technological and analytical advances, and discover fundamental brain properties through integration of experiments, modeling, and theory.

We are seeking a Research Associate with patch-clamp electrophysiology experience to join a translational project at the Allen Institute for Brain Science that aims to decipher the cellular mechanisms of action of psilocybin (the psychoactive component of magic mushrooms) and related serotonergic compounds on human cortical neuron types. Surprisingly, nothing is known about the cellular level responses of human brain cell types to these substances, which constitutes a critical short-coming given that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted psilocybin Breakthrough Therapy Designation (BTD) for treatment-resistant depression and for major depressive disorders in 2019. Yet psilocybin remains classified as a “Schedule 1” drug in the United States, which by definition means it has no accepted medical use and has a high potential for abuse. The collective research on psilocybin strongly suggests that neither of these statements apply, and therefore further research is clearly warranted. Furthermore, in order to best inform the development of novel therapeutics, it is crucial to directly test rather than assume conservation of drug action from rodent to human, which forms the central tenet and motivation for this new project.  The Research Associate II hire will apply single neuron patch-clamp electrophysiology to investigate the physiological properties of specific neuronal cell types in the human and mouse neocortex. It is our goal that the proposed pioneering studies may reveal important new insights on the cellular mechanism of action and therapeutic potential of psilocybin for treating debilitating neurological disorders in humans.

The Allen Institute believes that team science significantly benefits from the participation of diverse voices, experiences, and backgrounds. High-quality science can only be produced when it includes different perspectives. We are committed to increasing diversity across every team and encourage people from all backgrounds to apply for this role.

Essential Functions

  • Optimize and maintain a state-of-the-art patch-clamp electrophysiology rig
  • Perform single neuron patch-clamp and patch-seq experiments in human and mouse acute brain slices
  • Perform data analysis to correlate physiological, morphological, molecular, and synaptic properties within single neurons
  • On-site laboratory work according to brain tissue availability; evening hours as needed
  • Uphold rigorous standards, including detailed lab notebook records of all experiments
  • Contribute to publication of research findings in peer-reviewed journals/scientific conferences
  • Present a periodic summary of progress to the project leadership and Institute peers

Note: Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the essential functions. This description reflects management’s assignment of essential functions; it does not proscribe or restrict the tasks that may be assigned.

Required Education and Experience

  • Bachelors degree in a life science field or directly related
  • Minimum of 2 years of relevant bench research experience or equivalent
  • Experience with patch-clamp electrophysiology and associated methods
  • Experience with single-cell RNA-sequencing or handling of labile RNA samples
  • Knowledge of brain anatomy and/or neocortical cell types

Preferred Education and Experience

  • Experience with histology and immunohistochemistry
  • Experience with Python and Jupyter notebooks
  • Ability to work in a timeline, milestone-driven, and team-centric environment
  • Excellent organizational and communication skills
  • Highly motivated researcher, comfortable operating independently
  • Proficiency in MS Office programs

Work Environment

  • Laboratory environment, including potential exposure to lasers, biohazards

Physical Demands

  • Occasional lifting to 30 pounds
  • Fine motor movements in fingers/hands to operate computers and other office equipment; repetitive motion with lab equipment
  • Push/pull up to 55 pounds
  • Stooping, bending, crouching
  • Reaching, or climbing ladders

Position Type/Expected Hours of Work

  • This role is currently working onsite; due to COVID-19 and our focus on employee safety we continue to evaluate the safest options for our employees.

Additional Eligibility Qualifications

  • In keeping with our focus on employee safety, all employees must be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 as a condition of employment unless a medical or religious exemption is approved. All employees will be required to keep their vaccination status up to date according to CDC guidance and our policy.

Additional Comments

  • Please note, this opportunity does not sponsor work visas or offer relocation assistance**


It is the policy of the Allen Institute to provide equal employment opportunity (EEO) to all persons regardless of age, color, national origin, citizenship status, physical or mental disability, race, religion, creed, gender, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, genetic information, marital status, status with regard to public assistance, veteran status, or any other characteristic protected by federal, state or local law. In addition, the Allen Institute will provide reasonable accommodations for qualified individuals with disabilities.






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