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Monday, April 26, 2010


2010 NCBC Industrial Fellowship Program Open to Applicants

The North Carolina Biotechnology Center is pleased to announce that the following five North Carolina life sciences companies have been chosen as sponsors for the year 2010 of the NCBC Industrial Fellowship Program:

Metabolon, Inc.
Zen-Bio, Inc.
CiVentichem, LLC.
Ethicon, Inc.
GrassRoots Biotechnology, Inc.

Below are brief descriptions of each sponsoring company and corresponding fellowship opportunity.

NCBC is accepting applications for these fellowships through May 15. Visit the program website to find further details about the program, the online application form and submission instructions.

The NCBC Industrial Fellowship Program provides a significant part of salary and benefit support to trainees. The sponsoring company is expected to provide a portion of the salary as a match for the fellow (please see table below). The salary for the first year fellow is $40,000 and $12,000 for benefits for a total funding of $52,000 per year. It is assumed that second year fellows will recieve a 3 percent cost of living increase.

Please note:

* Candidates must complete all items on the application form and indicate a specific fellowship opportunity for which they are applying.
* Candidates will be required to attach a CV or resume with the application before submitting via e-mail as instructed.
* A candidate may apply for more than one fellowship if their qualifications and career interests are applicable to multiple opportunities, but these must be submitted as separate complete applications.
* Candidate applications will be collected by the NCBC and forwarded to the sponsor companies. Companies will select the candidates to be hired as NCBC Fellows.
* Please note these industrial fellowships are open to permanent residents or citizens only.

Questions? Contact:
Shobha Parthasarathi, Ph.D.
Technology Development Director, Business and Technology Development Program
North Carolina Biotechnology Center

Zen-Bio, Inc
3200 East Hwy 54, Suite 104, Research Triangle Park NC, 27709

Company Description:
Zen-Bio, Inc. is a leading provider of research tools for the study of human metabolic disease. The company was founded in 1995 to create in vitro human models to study obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease. Zen-Bio was the first to commercialize a human adipocyte cell system making it available to researchers worldwide. Through internal research programs, scientists at Zen-Bio pioneered tissue engineering with adult adipose-derived stem cells and created a separate company to further that technology. This blend of commercial product development and basic research has allowed former Zen-Bio employees to step directly into leadership roles at different sized companies. These former employees have also turned into Zen-Bio customers. The current customer base is in excess of 1000 researchers from organizations as small as 5 employees to the largest pharmaceutical companies and universities in the world.

The company's mission is to provide the highest quality human cell systems, reagents and contract services to the biomedical research community. A growing area of Zen-Bio's business is providing contract research to major pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies. Over the past decade Zen-Bio scientists have performed research for companies developing therapies for obesity, diabetes, infertility, and cosmetic applications. The company continues to develop additional human cell-based assay services in a variety of research areas. In most cases, Zen-Bio develops new and customizes established cell-based assays for its clients. Zen-Bio is committed to establishing robust cell systems and assays to study human disease.

Technology Description:
The company's research focus is obesity and type II diabetes and its product development plan involves providing multiple human primary cell types and cell based assay systems to be used in research for elucidating metabolic disease processes. Since it was founded, Zen-Bio's core competencies have been the procurement, isolation, and production of human primary cells for research purposes along with associated contract services. Zen-Bio is continuing to expand its technology base into other research areas including breast cancer and orthopedics. The company is creating human cell systems that are currently unavailable as tools for researchers worldwide. As a result of developing new cell systems, we are making novel discoveries that are pertinent to the disease areas.

Of importance to a post-doctoral candidate at Zen-Bio, our current internal research programs include novel discovery efforts and focus on expanding product development into new research areas. We are most interested in discoveries and new applications that will lead to publications in reputable journals, as well as novel product offerings. Zen-Bio's competency in these areas is reflected by the company being awarded several NIH SBIR grants to specifically fund these programs.

Scope of Work:
Project areas that may be of interest to a post-doctoral candidate include:

1. Mesothelial cells play a pivotal role in tumor metastasis, peritoneal dialysis, and inflammatory response. More recently mesothelial cells have also been identified as a source of pro-inflammatory mediators that may play a significant role in the chronic inflammation associated with obesity. Along these lines we are developing novel cell systems utilizing primary human mesothelial cells, adipocytes and human islets. There is a high potential for novel discoveries related to the role of mesothelial cells in obesity and the development of Type II diabetes.

2. In parallel with the increasing incidence of obesity and insulin resistance is the occurrence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), a chronic hepatic disorder that may be affecting up to 25% of the general population. Several intracellular events leading to NAFLD and progression to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) have been identified. However, the exact molecular mechanisms require further investigation, especially in human systems. The availability of primary human hepatocytes for cell-based applications is significantly limited. We are developing alternative models based upon the differentiation of adipose tissue derived adult stem cells (ASC) to hepatocyte-like cells. We have preliminary data suggesting that the ASC-derived hepatocytes possess many of the characteristics of primary human hepatocytes, and are in the process of developing applications of these cells for use in cell therapy and drug development.

Proposed Activities:
The successful candidate will be instrumental in the development and characterization of the human cell systems. They will work closely with the VP of Research and Development to refine culture techniques, perform extensive characterization, assay development and set specific measurable milestones and monitor progress against these goals.

The cell systems will be the basis for internal research programs as well as a commercial product. The successful candidate will help commercialize the cell system and related products through SOP development, rigorous testing, and preparing system manuals and technical information. They will be considered the technical expert on the system and will interact with clients concerning all facets of the system. Importantly, internal discovery work leading to publications will be expected.

Activities will include:
o Tissue preparation for primary cell isolation
o Cellular characterization by immunocytochemistry, gene and protein expression, and functional assays.
o Analyzing gene expression and cytokine secretion differences from across donor demographics.
o Interacting with customers and collaborators concerning cell systems and assay services.

Desired Qualifications of Fellow:
o PhD in life sciences or related field
o Cell isolation and tissue culture experience
o An understanding of cellular pathways and a working knowledge of a variety of cell-based assays
o Team player
o Good communication and presentation skills
o Proficient in MS Office suite

Benefits Description:
Health Insurance (Employee premium)
- 401K plan available
- 17 Days leave time
- 8 holidays
- The cost of benefits is 25% of salary on average.

CiVentiChem, LLC
1001 Sheldon Dr. Suite 101, Cary NC, 27513

Company Description:
CiVentiChem performs contract chemistry research and development in both synthetic organic chemistry and analytical chemistry for customers in the pharmaceutical, biotechnology, agrochemical, and materials chemistry industries around the world. Synthetic services we provide include medicinal chemistry, custom synthesis, process development, lead optimization, reference standard preparation, and metabolite synthesis. Our synthetic labs are equipped with all of the necessary equipment and instruments to meet our customers' needs quickly and efficiently. We specialize in the synthesis of difficult-to-access heterocycles and other building blocks as well as larger, more complex targets, and syntheses can require more than ten steps depending on the complexity of the project. We also have a cGMP synthesis lab. In our analytical facility, we perform method development, method validation, stability testing, impurity profiling, and other analytical services as requested by our customers. Most of the work done in this division is GMP/GLP in nature. The lab is outfitted with HPLC systems, GC-MS, and a variety of other instrumentation.

Technology Description:
CiVentiChem offers a range of products that sets us apart from our competitors. In particular, we offer a variety of substituted pyrazoles, pyrimidines, indazoles, azaindoles, quinolines, and isoquinolines that are unique to our company. We also synthesize an array of -ketoesters, boronic acids and boronic esters, sugars, nucleotides, and nucleosides. We serve our customers by offering these compounds as building blocks and also by incorporating them into larger syntheses.

Scope of Work:
The Industrial Fellow will work in our synthetic laboratories. CiVentiChem will offer the Fellow the opportunity to gain experience in the biggest stumbling block to the transition between synthesis in an academic setting and industry. Namely, academic research typically involves small-scale projects while success in industry requires comfort synthesizing up to 1 kg of compounds. The Fellow will work on projects designed to develop familiarity with the differences in planning and executing syntheses of 100 g to 1 kg.

In addition to becoming comfortable with large-scale synthesis, the Fellow will have the opportunity to learn about and apply cGMP regulations for synthesis in our new cGMP synthesis lab. In this capacity, the Fellow will interact with QA, QC, analytical chemists, and other synthetic chemists for the planning, development, and completion of cGMP synthesis projects. The Fellow can also expect to gain experience using some of CiVentiChem's proprietary technology, practice process chemistry skills, develop problem-solving skills, communicate with customers both in writing and orally, and collaborate with other synthetic chemists as well as our analytical division in a cooperative manner.

Proposed Activities:
The Industrial Fellow will be involved in designing and executing new synthetic routes on scales ranging from 1 g to 1 kg. The Fellow will also work in new process development, learn regulatory procedures, participate in a cGMP synthesis campaign, and interact with our customers as well as our other chemists in a cooperative and collaborative fashion. After receiving this training, the Fellow will be well-qualified to contribute to the efforts of local biotech companies in the development of new pharmaceuticals.

Desired Qualifications of Fellow:
The Fellow will be a well-rounded Ph.D. level synthetic organic chemist with a track record of working on multi-step organic syntheses. The candidate must be able to work in a multi-disciplinary team environment that fosters growth, creativity, and personal responsibility. This person must have excellent oral and written communication skills and must be willing to learn about the issues related to cGMP synthesis and to execute such a synthesis. In addition, the Fellow should demonstrate resourcefulness and the ability to be proactive when solving problems in the lab.

Benefits Description:
Benefits fall into four categories: vacation days, health insurance, life insurance, and retirement benefits. The cost to the company is approximately $10,500 per year.
- Vacation: Each new employee is eligible for eight paid holidays per year and ten personal vacation days per year.
- Health Insurance: Health and dental insurance is available for employees and their qualified dependents. In general, CiVentiChem pays 80% of the premium for each employee and 50% of the premium for dependents.
- Life Insurance: CiVentiChem covers the cost of the first $100,000 of life insurance coverage.
- Retirement Benefits: Eligible employees have the option of enrolling in the CiVentiChem simple IRA program following one year of employment. Employees can contribute a portion of their earnings on a pre-tax basis. Depending on business performance, CiVentiChem will annually contribute matching funds ranging from 1 - 3% of the employee's earnings.

Ethicon Raleigh Innovation Center, 5250 Greens Dairy Road, Raleigh NC, 27616

Company Description
Ethicon was founded 80 years ago on the pillars of research, vision, innovation, and a commitment to improving the quality of patients' lives. The first group of Ethicon scientists and researchers, who thought about healing in a new way - and in doing so, pioneered our sutures to enhance the work of surgeons and the lives of patients - recognized the opportunity for limitless innovation. Almost a century later, Ethicon produces much more than sutures. We have continuously introduced innovations in all areas where we focus our expertise including: wound closure; general surgery; biosurgery; women's health, and aesthetic medicine. While a lot has changed in healthcare, one thing has not: Ethicon remains committed to developing the best surgical solutions to help doctors heal both the wounds you can see and the ones you can't.

Technology Description:
For nearly a century, Ethicon's products have been in the hands of healthcare practitioners, transforming their work and restoring the lives of patients they serve. As part of the Surgical Care Group of Johnson & Johnson, our commitment to improving and enhancing the lives of patients is fully realized when our products are in the hands of our customers. Ethicon's portfolio core technologies span numerous application areas of medicine including Aesthetic Medicine, Biosurgicals, Hernia Solutions, Infection Control, Pelvic Health and Wound Closure. The Ethicon Raleigh Innovation Center in Raleigh North Carolina researches and develops synthetic biosurgical adhesives and sealants for next generation wound closure. Although best known for topical wound closure products like DERMABOND Topical Skin Adhesive, Ethicon Raleigh has an extensive research effort in bio-resorbable synthetic adhesives and sealants for use inside the body.

Scope of Work:
Implantable synthetic adhesives and sealants are currently regulated in the US as Class III devices requiring pre-market approval by the FDA. Regulatory approval requires extensive preclinical and clinical evidence supporting their safety and efficacy. Pivotal preclinical in-vivo studies need to be conducted throughout and beyond the period that an implant will degrade, with numerous study time points where explanted tissue are evaluated for acute, sub-chronic and chronic toxicity and tissue reaction, using conventional gross pathology and histopathology techniques. Depending upon the time to full absorption, these preclinical studies can take many months to years, requiring numerous animals to support the required time points. The scope of this work will involve the identification and specialized development of non-invasive, high resolution imaging techniques (e.g., MRI, CT, ultrasound, fluoroscopy) to evaluate the location and condition of implanted tissue adhesives and sealants throughout the life of the implant.

Proposed Activities:
Under the direct mentorship of a senior industrial scientist, the candidate scientist will research non- or minimally-invasive imaging techniques and develop them in part to evaluate implant degradation and local tissue response at various time points (initially using implantable biomaterials with known and predictable absorption profiles). In further support of this effort, the scientist will also design and develop predictive mathematical models for quantifying the degree or extent of implant degradation and tissue reaction correlated to gross pathology and histopathology. Once initial success has been demonstrated, the scientist will begin exploring experimental adhesive and sealant formulations with the express purpose of ultimately reducing the number of animals and required sacrifices in pivotal studies.
Preliminary research with model implants including in-vivo correlation and validation is expected to take 9-12 months. Application to experimental systems would be focused in the second half of the fellowship, wit ultimate application to clinical investigations.

Desired Qualifications of Fellow:
The candidate should have an advanced degree (PhD) in the life sciences and a strong track record in conducting supervised but self-directed, original research. The candidate should have knowledge of basic human anatomy and physiology, with small animal anatomy a plus. The ability to participate in and eventually organize and execute in-vivo studies is required. An undergraduate degree or demonstrable experience in a physical science (e.g., chemistry, physics) is preferred. Basic hands-on experience in the use of imaging techniques (e.g., MRI, CT, ultrasound, fluoroscopy) is preferred although not required. As this is a central component of the research, the candidate should demonstrate strong aptitude and interest in learning and mastering tissue imaging techniques to be successful. Background in the use of image manipulation software is desirable and demonstrated aptitude for programming (high level languages like C/FORTRAN, or, if preferred, symbolic programs like MathCad, MatLab, Mathematica, Maple or equivalent) for mathematical model development is also desirable.

Benefits Description: As a valued team member, you'll receive a competitive salary and great benefits including medical/dental and a comprehensive wellness program.

GrassRoots Biotechnology, Inc.
302 E. Pettigrew St., A-200, Durham NC, 27701

Company Description:
GrassRoots Biotechnology presents a unique opportunity to gain valuable scientific and industry experience. GrassRoots is a well-funded, start-up company that is performing leading edge scientific research. The company mission is to conduct biotechnology research to create products for the agricultural and biofuels markets. We've seen considerable growth in our first three years of operation; we recently moved into 7,500 square foot state of the art lab and office space in downtown Durham and have grown rapidly to 17 employees. We've assembled an outstanding team of accomplished and dedicated scientists. Our early successes have included two federal grants and a strategic alliance with the Monsanto Company.
Our Monsanto alliance is focused on discovering genes and promoters for traditional agricultural row crops. Simultaneously, we are conducting research to create better crops for the biofuels markets. Our USDA SBIR grant has supported research to improve root architecture for biofuels crops. The Fellow, under the guidance of GrassRoots' senior scientists, would spearhead a second project in the biofuels area.

Technology Description
The RootArray: The RootArray is a proprietary device that enables temporal imaging of gene expression in growing plant roots at cell-type resolution. The RootArray allows 64 Arabidopsis seedlings to be grown in a closed system with a controlled environment. Expression of GFP reporters in growing roots is monitored over time by laser scanning confocal microscopy. Environmental conditions can be changed to examine responses to specific stimuli. The RootArray is used for promoter characterization and to order components in transcription networks.

High Resolution Expression Profiling Pipeline: This pipeline combines microdissection and cell-sorting with microarray analysis and/or RNA-Seq to generate developmental- and tissue-specific expression data. These high-resolution expression datasets are mined to identify superior promoter candidates. In addition, this pipeline is used to identify novel gene candidates involved in responses to abiotic stress.

Computing: We have developed an extensive computational platform in support of the company discovery efforts. This includes a collection of in-house value-added databases combining gene expression, sequence annotation, and images, as well as proprietary data analysis tools and algorithms. Our computational personnel cover a broad range of expertise in bioinformatics, statistics, data mining, image analysis, database architecture, and scientific programming.

Scope of Work: The successful fellow will develop and lead a project aimed at improving bioenergy crops using Brachypodium distachyon as a model.

Research activities: A core component of GrassRoots' strategic vision is to apply its expertise and capabilities in the area of biofuels research. This component of our business is being funded initially with internal resources and external grants. The successful candidate will play a key role in designing, implementing, and leading our second biofuels-related project. Particular areas of interest include increasing biomass and enhancing agronomic performance of bioenergy crops. The candidate is expected to make significant intellectual contributions in developing a project in one of these areas based on their expertise and interests. This project will use Brachypodium distachyon as an experimental system. The genome of this model grass was recently sequenced, and additional genomic and genetic tools for this organism are rapidly being developed. The successful candidate is expected to exploit the advantages of this system and apply state-of-the-art technologies to addressing the problem at hand. GrassRoots has particular expertise in high-resolution gene expression analysis and we expect to extend this to Brachypodium using RNA-seq. Additionally, the successful candidate will have access to GrassRoots' extensive expertise in the areas of plant development, genetics, transgenic approaches, confocal microscopy, cell sorting, and computational/bioinformatics methods. Ultimately, approaches and concepts that result from Brachypodium experiments will be tested and validated in bioenergy crops including switchgrass, Miscanthus, and/or sweet sorghum.

Professional growth activities: The successful candidate is expected to publish scientific results in peer-reviewed journals. Additionally, outcomes from this project are expected to provide a strong basis for external grant funding. Therefore, the successful candidate will have the opportunity to write grant proposals as a co-PI. Finally, this is an excellent opportunity to experience and contribute to the early stages of a rapidly growing biotech startup.
Along with scientific research, the Fellow would be exposed to and participate in key aspects of GrassRoots' business strategy and operations. This will include applying for grants, participating in research decisions to further business goals, presenting research results at scientific meetings, and potentially pitching to investors. Importantly, GrassRoots provides the opportunity to work in a lively, fun and collegial atmosphere with creative scientists and managers.

Desired qualifications of fellow: A Ph.D. in plant biology, biochemistry, genetics, developmental biology, or related field; Demonstrated scientific creativity and productivity; Ability to work independently; Competence to solve a wide range of research problems in imaginative ways; Excellent written and oral communication skills; Desire to work in a collaborative, team-based atmosphere.

Benefits Description: The Industrial Fellow will be entitled to all company benefits. Our competitive benefits package includes health, dental and vision insurance under United Health Care. We also provide for short-term disability and a small life insurance policy. We grant 3 weeks vacation, holiday and sick leave. The Fellow will have the option of participating in our standard employee 401K plan. In addition, like all employees, the Fellow will be granted an ownership stake in GrassRoots in the form of stock options. GrassRoots' contribution to the employee benefits package is greater than $10,000.

Metabolon, Inc.
Capitola Dr., Suite 1, Durham NC, 27713

Company Description:
Metabolon is a diagnostics and services company offering the world leading biochemical profiling platform. Our patented platform provides a global analysis of the biochemicals in complex biological samples for the discovery of markers and pathways associated with drug action and disease. This metabolomics-driven approach enables the identification of biomarkers useful for the development of a wide range of diagnostics and provides insight into complex biochemical processes such as drug action, toxicology and bioprocess optimization.

Our Experience:
* Over 400 individual studies completed with over 100 client companies
* Client roster includes the top 15 pharmaceutical companies
* Over 70% of our studies are with repeat clients
* Studies conducted in a wide variety of therapeutic areas including metabolic disease, oncology and neurology.
* Over 100 patent applications, 11 issued patents

Application Areas:
The understanding of biochemical changes within a biological system (cell, tissue or organism) has implications in hundreds of research areas. Metabolon's technology has demonstrated value in areas including:
* Disease Diagnostics
* Bioprocessing
* Drug Safety/ADME Toxicology
* Compound Selection
* Mechanism of Drug Action
* Consumer Products

Technology Description:
Technology for Global Analysis:
Metabolon's platform technology uses a combination of chromatography and mass spectrometry to separate and identify a wide range of biochemicals and metabolites including amino acids, carbohydrates, lipids, nucleic acids and cofactors. This analysis results in several hundred biochemicals identified in a given sample. This global approach allows researchers to measure system-wide changes in biochemistry due to disease, drug or diet.

Details Make the Difference:
In addition to Metabolon's global approach, our team of PhD biochemists drill down to truly understand how specific biochemical pathways are being affected. This involves in-depth statistical analysis and biochemical interpretation to help understand results and how to use those results to make actionable decisions.

Scope of Work:
The Fellow in this position will be responsible for collaborative research projects involving biomarker discovery and diagnostic assay development in a team environment with other diagnostic, research and development staff within Metabolon. The responsibilities may include: collaborative research projects with pharmaceutical, academic, and government researchers including study design, patient selection and sample collection, testing, result interpretation and reporting; support of all segments of day-to-day commercial client study data analysis and report generation in a collaboration with Metabolon scientists; or leading and coordinating activities for specific internal research and development projects in obesity, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, diabetes, cardiovascular and neurodegenerative diseases.

In this role there is ample opportunity for growth and learning of the biotech business. The successful candidate will be expected to effectively work with both external pharmaceutical, agricultural, and consumer goods companies and internal research scientists and project managers as well as work closely with our sales and business development efforts.

This position will also be involved with helping to prepare business grants and intellectual property. Occasional travel to external client sites for data and analysis presentations may be required.

Proposed Activities:
Collaborate and communicate effectively with all clients and collaborators (internal and external) from study design to reporting of preliminary results and delivery of final project reports.? Effectively publish research studies and make external presentations.
Work with internal and external resources to develop diagnostic studies based upon validated biomarkers and conduct multi-site clinical studies to determine the clinical utility of the diagnostic assays.
Prepare business reports/business plans and patent applications in collaboration with Metabolon scientists, directors and executives.
Assist with transfer of diagnostic assays to CLIA-certified clinical laboratories and commercial diagnostic kit manufacturing partners.

Desired Qualifications of Fellow:
A PhD in life sciences with strong background in biochemistry. Excellent communication skills (written and verbal). Experience with statistical analysis methods is a plus. Enjoy and posses the positive attitude required for working in a team environment with a dynamic and rapidly growing biotech company.

Benefits Description:
Competitive employee benefits package including health, dental, and vision benefits; 401K and Flexible Spending Account options, and paid time off.
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