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British Columbia Labs Recruiting to Fill Six Faculty Positions

By Alex Philippidis

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) — The Michael Smith Laboratories and the Centre for High-throughput Biology at the University of British Columbia are seeking researchers for six faculty positions, four of them new.

The recruitment effort seeks researchers to fill two new positions in metabolic engineering and synthetic biology. "All facets of metabolic engineering and synthetic biology, from technology development and computational approaches to innovative applications, will be considered. Applicants with an interest in bioenergy and biorefining are particularly encouraged to apply," according to a joint advertisement of the positions by MSL and CHiBi.

MSL's recruitment of new faculty in metabolic engineering and synthetic biology reflects a planned expansion by MSL of research activities into those areas, with an emphasis on bioenergy and biorefining, J.W. Kronstad, professor and director of MSL, told GenomeWeb Daily News.

MSL is also looking to fill two positions will be in chemical, molecular and systems biology, and bioengineering. The appointees will succeed retiring faculty members.

"Approaches using molecular genetics, chemical, computational or molecular biology or bioengineering to probe animals, plants and unicellular organisms, and models of disease therein, will be considered," according to the ad.

CHiBi is looking to fill two new positions in computational tools and technology development. "The development of innovative technologies, devices, computational approaches or chemical and biophysical techniques is welcomed, with particular emphasis on genome-wide and high-throughput approaches," the ad stated.

The planned hires in computational tools and technology development, Kronstad said, are part of a continuing effort to build the Centre for High Throughput Biology under the auspices of UBC's Faculty of Science.

Deadline for applications is Sept. 14. MSL and CHiBi will narrow its choices to short lists of candidates set to be interviewed in October, November, and December, with the goal of filling the UBC-funded positions in early 2011, Kronstad said. The anticipated start date is July 1, 2011.

"The MSL has grown over the years to a group of 15 faculty, and the unit is quite top-heavy with only one assistant professor and one associate professor. Therefore, there is a real need to recruit young investigators to build on existing strengths in bioengineering and molecular biology, genetics and genomics, and to move into new areas," Kronstad said.

MSL was launched in 1988 as the Biotechnology Laboratory by Michael Smith, one of two winners of the 1993 Nobel Prize in chemistry for "fundamental contributions" to the establishment of oligonucleotide-based, site-directed mutagenesis and its development for protein studies. Smith recruited 10 faculty members in 1988-1989 with the goal of building a group of biological scientists, both animal and plant scientists, as well as bioprocess engineers to tackle biotechnological problems.

Each faculty member has a primary appointment in the MSL and one or more additional appointments in other departments, with the goal of building relationships with other researchers and research centers across the UBC campus. Also to that end, MSL's faculty has partnered with UBC's faculties of medicine and science to recruit computational biologists, proteomics experts and a microfluidics specialist to form the Centre for High Throughput Biology, Kronstad said.

"The MSL and CHiBi have a strong partnership and shared goals. The faculty members in these units already have substantial interactions in terms of collaborative projects, joint seminar programs, colloquia, and poster sessions as well as other activities," Kronstad said.

He said new faculty will have "substantial" startup funds available, and will be eligible for major equipment funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation. Part of that funding, he said, will help toward upgrades to the existing Fermentation/Pilot Plant, a core research facility at UBC that is operated and maintained by the MSL.

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