Open Interdisciplinary Fellowships

Engineering and Neurology

The Lippmann Lab (www.lippmannlab.com) and the SchragLAB (www.SchragLAB.com) at Vanderbilt University are accepting applications for two postdoctoral positions to join the team at the Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer's Center. These positions are being funded through an R61/33 Phased Innovation Award from the NIH (R61NS112445-01A1, “iPSC-derived neurovascular tissue model of cerebral amyloid angiopathy”). Background and position descriptions are listed below.

Focus areas for these postdoctoral positions: Cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA) is a condition related to Alzheimer’s disease where amyloid beta deposits on the vascular wall of arteries and arterioles, leading to microhemorrhages, stroke, and dementia. Unfortunately, animal models do not appropriately recapitulate CAA pathology, which limits investigations into disease mechanisms and treatment strategies. As such, our goal is to develop more representative in vivo and in vitro models of CAA. This work represents a complementary effort between the labs of Dr. Ethan Lippmann and Dr. Matthew Schrag. One postdoctoral position will exist solely in Dr. Lippmann’s lab and focus on the fabrication of the human in vitro CAA model, which will be built with human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) and custom bioreactors. The other postdoctoral position will be primarily embedded in Dr. Schrag’s lab with approximately 20% effort in Dr. Lippmann’s lab and focus on building out a novel mouse model of CAA and prepping mouse and human tissue samples for CLARITY imaging. At the end of the two-year R61 phase of the NIH grant, milestones will need to be met to transition into the R33 phase, where CAA pathology in the in vitro model will be comprehensively compared to the mouse and human tissue. Additional sources of funding, including a competitive training grant through the Vanderbilt Memory and Alzheimer’s Center (VMAC, vumc.org/vmac), may be available to support complementary areas of study and continued training if desired. 

Lippmann lab background: Dr. Lippmann’s research group applies biomolecular and biomedical engineering strategies to basic science and translational investigations that address the role of the blood-brain barrier (BBB) in health and disease. We currently employ a wide variety of experimental strategies and techniques, including iPSC differentiation, biomaterial synthesis, microdevice fabrication, and biomolecular/cellular engineering, to carry out our work. For biological investigations, we regularly leverage cell culture (including simple 2D cultures and Transwell co-cultures) for mechanistic interrogations, followed by rigorous follow-up studies in 3D engineered systems, human tissue, and in vivo models of disease. Likewise, we routinely seek to improve engineering platforms and techniques that can be applied back to basic wet lab research, model development, and neurovascular disease treatment strategies. These comprehensive activities are supported by the diverse expertise of our group, including a lab manager with extensive animal handling experience and 10+ trainees with backgrounds across chemical engineering, biomedical engineering, mechanical engineering, materials science, neuroscience, and molecular biology. 

SchragLAB background: The PI, Dr. Matthew Schrag (MD, PhD), is a vascular and cognitive neurologist and Beeson scholar affiliated with the Department of Neurology and VMAC. We work with human brain tissue and fluids, novel surgical and transgenic mouse models of neurodegenerative diseases, organotypic tissue culture, and cell culture with advanced immunofluorescent microscopy techniques including CLARITY, light-sheet microscopy, and high-content imaging. Our lab utilizes broad, multidisciplinary approaches in a highly collaborative environment. The applicant will join an experienced laboratory manager, a senior staff scientist, and an existing post-doctoral fellow in addition to undergraduates and rotating students. 

Requirements: These positions are immediately available, with flexible start dates for competitive candidates. Candidates must have a PhD or equivalent degree with strong research experience in any area pertaining to mammalian cell biology, engineering, chemistry, biochemistry, and neuroscience. Due to the large breadth and scope of our research programs, we value applications from a wide variety of backgrounds and research experiences. 

Responsibilities: Candidates are expected to be highly motivated, have excellent technical and communication skills, and be capable of performing self-directed research. Given the interdisciplinary nature of these projects, candidates will be expected to work effectively in a team-based environment across both labs. Candidates will be further expected to train and partially supervise younger graduate students while coordinating research efforts. 

Training environment: The background of our trainees is widespread, and we value this diversity as we believe it enhances the training experience. Dr. Lippmann and Dr. Schrag’s lab managers both have extensive expertise in animal handling and procedures to assist with in vivo work. In addition, one of Dr. Lippman’s current postdoctoral associates, who has a mechanical engineering background, will be available to help with bioreactor design. Overall, our labs are supportive, inclusive, and care deeply about the success of trainees. Dr. Lippmann is part of the Neurodegeneration Challenge Network through the Chan Zuckerberg initiative, which provides excellent networking opportunities and unique training experiences. Dr. Lippmann and Dr. Schrag are also affiliated with VMAC, led by Dr. Angela Jefferson. Dr. Jefferson is the PI on a P20 exploratory Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center and T32 training grant from the NIH, as well as an internal Trans-Institutional Program at Vanderbilt. Training activities, including seminar series, journal clubs, and works-in-progress meetings, are provided under the VMAC umbrella. 

Vanderbilt University: Vanderbilt as a whole provides an excellent day-to-day working environment to promote progress and productivity. Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Vanderbilt is a top 15 research institution, yet has a very compact campus; all core facilities and collaborating groups are within a 5-minute walk, which enhances efficiency, teamwork, and productivity for all members of our lab and collaborators. Our trainees walk to and from Dr. Lippmann’s lab, Dr. Schrag’s lab, and the medical center without any difficulty, which is a stark contrast to most academic campuses where a shuttle is required.

Position details and application process: Compensation for these positions will be at or above NIH postdoctoral guidelines and will include a competitive benefits and retirement package offered by Vanderbilt University. Postdoctoral researchers will receive a renewable, annual contract with the expectation of completing 3 years of training, assuming that the milestones are met to transition from the R61 to R33 phase of the grant. Flexibility to pursue work in personal areas of interest, to apply for grants and fellowships, and to develop independent research directions will be encouraged. Prospective applicants should submit a CV, a list of three potential references, and a cover letter with a brief description of research achievements, interests in our research program, and how working with us will help facilitate career goals. Competitive candidates will be further asked to submit a writing sample. All materials should be emailed to Dr. Ethan Lippmann (ethan.s.lippmann@vanderbilt.edu) with the subject line “Postdoctoral position in the Lippmann lab.”