PhD Student Co-Op: Molecular Engineering of the Baculovirus System for Expression of AAV Gene Therapy Vectors

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Project Title:

Molecular engineering of the baculovirus system for expression of AAV gene therapy vectors


We are searching for a team player to participate in ongoing projects developing of a new generation of baculovirus expression vectors (BEV) specialized for making Adeno Associated Virus (AAV) delivered drug products.   The BEV has not changed significantly over several decades and recent application of the BEV system to manufacture AAV derived drug products in insect cells has put new demands on this old system.  Voyager Therapeutics is pioneering redesign of the BEV on a molecular level to solve current problems and open new possibilities for a more stable, abundant and effective AAV drug product.   Under the mentoring of a baculovirus scientist, the candidate will have the opportunity to manipulate large baculovirus DNA constructs to produce novel recombinant AAV constructs.   They will gain experience in the molecular biology baculoviruses, bacteriology and insect cell culture.  On top of that they will learn a about AAV, human therapeutics and neurodegenerative diseases as they collaborate with colleagues at Voyager Therapeutics.


Approx. 6-12 months (Contract)

Availability to start no later than end of January 2019


Candidate Qualifications:

PhD or currently enrolled in a PhD program in molecular biology, gene therapy or similar areas

PhD thesis with emphasis in molecular virology, strong expertise in AAV is ideal.

Much of the work will encompass cloning DNA constructs, analyzing DNA, amplifying recombinant baculoviruses and analyzing resulting AAV drug substances.  Experience in plasmid and bacmid DNA purification, restriction endonuclease analysis, cloning and PCR screening will be an asset.  They must be capable of basic laboratory work such as pipetting, loading and running an electrophoresis gels.  A good visual ability to solve patterns and to work with DNA manipulation software is desired.  Experience doing protein analysis such as Western immunoblots is a plus.  The candidate should be comfortable doing cell culture work with E.coli and Sf9 cell insect cells.  Good, safe aseptic technique on the bench and in BSL2 hood will enable this candidate to be successful.

Good communication, documentation and writing skills are also needed.  This would include experience with Excel spreadsheets, PowerPoint and MS-Word.  Must be able to easily learn and use software applications such as electronic laboratory notebook (ELN) software and spreadsheet project management tools.  Actual ELN experience is desired.