Postdoctoral fellowship, biochemistry

Seeking PhD scientist or engineer for rapid development of novel single-molecule assays to accelerate development of therapeutic biologics


The Leslie Lab, newly arrived at UBC’s Michael Smith Labs, in partnership with the startup ScopeSys Inc., is looking for an exceptional PhD scientist to undertake post-doctoral research which applies a new biophysics tool to the development of novel therapeutic drugs.  The successful candidate will have a strong interest in building a career in biotechnology and/or pharmaceutical science, pioneering new biophysical techniques, and commercializing cutting edge science and technology.  Experience in industry will be considered a strong asset, especially a fast-paced start-up working on applied research.  The position will be a Mitacs-supported industrial postdoctoral position in the UBC Leslie Lab, with industry support coming from ScopeSys, the startup that spun out of Dr. Leslie’s lab to commercialize the CLiC technology.

About ScopeSys and the CLiC high-throughput single-molecule analysis technology

ScopeSys is a young technology company dedicated to adding single-molecule resolution to the research capabilities of scientists at the cutting edge of biomolecular and pharmaceutical science, nanotechnology and biotechnology.  Our single-molecule technology, Convex Lens-induced Confinement (CLiC), works by squeezing molecules into arrays of nanometer- to micrometer-scale “traps” that are large enough to allow the molecules to move and interact freely, but small enough to keep them confined so they can be imaged over extended periods with a high powered optical microscope.  The result is the world’s first simple and high-throughput single molecule technology for analyzing individual molecular interactions.  CLiC is capable of detecting, following, and understanding rare molecular events – like the drug/target interactions which can ‘silence’ genes associated with the onset of diseases.  

Our research program is focused on elucidating the mechanism of complex drug-target interactions, as well as drug uptake and release by nanoparticle delivery vehicles – applications where every molecule matters.  The ability to simultaneously observe large numbers of single molecule interactions offers important advantages over industry-standard “ensemble” measurement technologies like Surface Plasmon Resonance and Dynamic Light Scattering.  These ensemble methods, which are workhorse technologies in the 50B per year drug development industry, provide a single value that represents an “average” across the large number of molecules being measured.  Critically, ensemble measurements fail to reveal sub-populations within a sample arising from biomolecular complexity, multi-step reaction kinetics such as enzyme-assisted drug/target binding, and are not able to tease out the relationships between different variables in a molecular interaction, such as drug cargo loading and size of delivery vehicle. 

Our technology has generated significant excitement in a diverse range of fields, from fundamental biophysical research (effect of DNA super-coiling on plasmid binding) to materials science (nanoparticle analytics), to drug development (ASO binding to target mRNA).  We are primarily focused on accelerating the development of complex macromolecular therapies based on antibodies, oligonucleotides, and nanoparticles, and we are actively working with the leading global companies in these fields.  Our development of CLiC technology is driven by the need to ‘close the loop’ on rational drug design, providing the data and resolution needed to iterate on drug design to optimize performance.  

About the position

The successful candidate will join a fast-paced interdisciplinary team of scientists and engineers working in the newly built Leslie Lab at UBC’s Michael Smith Labs.  The Leslie Lab team works in close coordination with the startup ScopeSys to rapidly respond to newly-identified needs generated by ScopeSys’ partnerships with leading drug development companies. 

The emphasis of the position will be on developing new applications for the CLiC technology to improve and accelerate development of biologics-based drugs.  Responsibilities will include:

  • Working with ScopeSys and Leslie Lab scientists to map out a plan for new assays and applications of the CLiC technology, including background research, literature reviews, and analysis of competing/existing methods/technologies
  • Designing and modifying experimental setups to support new research. This may include modifying instruments, consumables, reagents, protocols, analysis methods, software and more.
  • Planning and executing detailed experimental programs to develop new applications of the CLiC technology.  This will entail individual and collaborative work from bench level pipetting through to analysis and reporting.
  • Regularly reporting and documenting plans and results in different formats and timescales, from weekly meetings to grant reports and publications.  
  • Assisting with various administrative and operational tasks to support the broad efforts of the Leslie Lab.

Desired skills and experience

Developing a new single molecule application or assay is a complex undertaking and the ideal candidate will possess experience and interest in many of the following areas:

  • Biochemistry and molecular biology
  • Design and structural analysis of DNA/RNA oligomers
  • Protein and enzyme interactions with oligonucleotides
  • Fluorescence microscopy – wide field and confocal
  • Single-molecule microscopy
  • Biophysical assay and protocol development
  • Surface plasmon resononance (SPR) and Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (TIRF)

The successful candidate will be a well-organized, enthusiastic team player with excellent communication skills, who enjoys lab work, creative trouble-shooting, and who isn’t afraid of trying new things.  Although the position is based in an academic research lab, the research will be heavily driven by real and immediate problems in the development of novel biologics and there will be a commensurate emphasis on developing solutions that are proven, robust, and ready for use by external collaborators.

To apply, please send a cover letter and CV/resume to contact.leslielab [at]