Research Associate (Specialized Technical Skills) - Pathology

Date: September 2021

Title: Research Associate (Specialized Technical Skills), RA (STS)

Department: Pathology

School: Medicine

Location: National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center (NPDPSC)

Supervisor Name and Title: Brian Appleby, MD, NPDPSC Center Director and Crystal Moskal, NPDPSC Manager of Administrative Operations

 

POSITION OBJECTIVE

The National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center (NPDPSC) is responsible for managing surveillance and the research operations activities under the sponsorship of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  The NPDPSC was established in 1997 and operates within the Divisions of Experimental and Clinical (UHCMC, UHMG) Pathology. The NPDPSC provides diagnostic, research, and tissue banking services for prion diseases and is the only nationally funded center to oversee human prion diseases.

The Research Associate, Specialized Technical Skills, [RA (STS)] will plan and execute clinical testing and research projects in collaboration with faculty and the CLIA Lab Manager from CWRU and other academic institutions. The Research Associate (STS) will independently perform diagnostic analysis of prion diseases utilizing methodologies and techniques, including dissections, autopsies, and biopsies of human brain tissue, diagnostic analysis of prion proteins in human brain tissue, DNA extraction, Western blotting, and protein purification. The Research Associate (STS) will be expected to keep the Dr. Appleby, the principal investigator, and CLIA Lab Manager informed of research progress, experimental design recommendation, and data findings.

 

ESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS

  1. Plan and execute diagnostic analysis of prion diseases in human brain tissue independently and in collaboration with the principal investigator utilizing dissections, autopsies, biopsies, protein purification, DNA and RNA isolation, and Western blotting. Assist with and coordinate experiments performed by other lab members, ensuring adequate resources, experimental design and analysis. Oversee progress of dissections, autopsies, biopsies, protein purification, DNA and RNA isolation, and Western blotting in prion disease analysis. Provide regular progress reports, input, and recommendation to the principal investigator and CLIA Lab Manager regarding significant developments in clinical research projects. Ensure the principal investigator and CLIA Lab Manager are informed about experimental results, results of lab members, and that the principal investigator’s experimental strategy is explored by lab members through independent experiments by the Research Associate (STS). (30%)
  2. Conduct a series of experiments to supply clinical and research results to the NPDPSC. Studies involve the analysis of prion proteins and diseases in human brain tissue using protein purification, Western Blotting, DNA isolation, gel electrophoresis in one-and two- dimensions and ELISA. Maintain accurate records of data; Provide findings and recommendations to the principal investigator and CLIA Lab Manager based on analysis. From frozen brain tissue, the Research Associate (STS) will investigate and report positive or negative results for CJD and phenotyping.  (20%)
  3. Assist principal investigator and independently develop improved research and clinical projects and procedures involving a high degree of skill and training working directly alongside principal investigators, collaborators, or external parties. Train junior lab members on new techniques and methods. (10%)
  4. Mentor and train lab staff and graduate students. Oversee clinical research work and ensure projects are completed with quality assurance, compliance, and adherence. Teach or instruct junior lab staff and students in laboratory functions, including dissections, autopsies, biopsies, protein purification, DNA and RNA isolation, and Western blotting research techniques. Evaluates and trains others in high complexity testing and oversees proficiency testing, and competency assessments. (10%)
  5. Present results and data at laboratory meetings and contribute preliminary data for grant proposals. Report results directly to the CDC and clinician for surveillance and patient care plan. (5%)
  6. Co-author research projects by providing lab results that improve patient clinical care and provide surveillance data for public record to the CDC. (5%)
  7. Assess, update, and develop new standard operating procedures (SOPs) for the lab. (5%)
  8. May supervise research assistants and technicians. Supervise the research and technical work performed by other lab members, ensuring proper lab procedures are followed, ensuring their safety, and ensuring adequate resources are provided. Instruct others in laboratory functions, including dissections, autopsies, biopsies, protein purification, DNA and RNA isolation, and Western blotting research techniques. Evaluates and trains others in high complexity testing and oversees proficiency testing, and competency assessments. (5%)
  9. Operate laboratory equipment, including power supply, analytical balance, dry bath heat block, thermomixer, and centrifuge. Assist other lab members with general lab maintenance and help oversee and maintain inventory of scientific reagents. (5%)

 

NONESSENTIAL FUNCTIONS

  1. Perform other duties as assigned. (5%)

 

CONTACTS

Department: Daily contact with NPDPSC Principal Investigator and CLIA Lab Manager to discuss clinical research progress and quality assurance/adherence. Regular contact with Co-Investigators to discuss data findings and share research progress. Occasional contact with junior lab staff for training purposes.

University: Occasional contact with Pathology administrative staff to discuss for collaboration and on an as needed basis.

External: Occasional contact with the CDC and Departments of Health to share data findings and provide input and recommendations on patient care.

Students: Moderate contact with students for training purposes.

 

SUPERVISORY RESPONSIBILITY

No direct supervisor responsibility. The Research Associate (STS) may teach laboratory techniques to junior lab staff and students.

 

QUALIFICATIONS

Education/Licensing and Experience:

PhD or MD in Clinical Chemistry, Molecular Biology, or related field with 3 years of laboratory experience in high complexity clinical testing in clinical chemistry or molecular diagnostics is preferred. Experience in medical technology is preferred.

 

In lieu of a terminal degree, a Bachelor’s or Master’s degree in related field with at least 10 years of related laboratory experience, demonstrating expertise as a senior medical technologist and/or special clinical laboratory certifications may be considered.

 

Previous experience in a clinical laboratory is preferred.

 

In addition, the selected candidate must meet the federal requirements for a Technical Supervisor of a clinical laboratory as described in the CLIA regulations (42 CFR § 493.144) and meet various state requirements as applicable such as baccalaureate degree in a biological or chemical science and/or have completed clinical laboratory scientist training and certification; with completion of at least six semester hours of chemistry and six semester hours of biology.

 

ASCP certification is preferred but not required.

 

REQUIRED SKILLS

  1. Highly skilled in Western blotting, immunoprecipitation, protein purification, DNA and RNA extraction, gel electrophoresis 1-D and 2-D, autopsies, biopsies, and dissection.
  2. Takes initiative to explore and learn new laboratory techniques as well as teach laboratory techniques to junior technicians.
  3. Ability to meet consistent attendance, working under pressure, multi-task, and be a team player.
  4. Maintain patient confidentiality.
  5. Obtain accurate and reproducible results.
  6. Accurately document work performed and patient results.
  7. Interpret and communicate results accurately.
  8. Participate in and adhere to the quality plan, including the use of Westgard rules for evaluating Levey-Jennings plots.
  9. Demonstrate appropriate time management skills while maintaining consistent attention to accuracy and quality.
  10. Effectively communicate with staff and faculty at all levels.
  11. Demonstrate proactive attitude and behavior.
  12. Excellent analytical skills; ability to formulate findings and recommendations from the analysis.
  13. Excellent oral and written communication skills and interpersonal skills; must demonstrate the ability to effectively and professionally communicate and work with various individuals within and external to the University.
  14. Strong organization skills; ability to multi-task, prioritize, and meet deadlines.  Must demonstrate attention to detail and accuracy, time management skills, and follow-through. Must be able to work under pressure and conform to shifting priorities, demands, and timeline.    
  15. Effective leadership skills; ability to lead, train, work with, and elicit cooperation from team members and staff. 
  16. Ability to work effectively independently and collaboratively within a team.  Must be highly motivated, responsible, dependable, and a self-starter.
  17. Effective problem-solving skills; must demonstrate innovation and creativity, sound judgment, and good decision-making. 
  18. Good computer skills, including database management. Ability to learn new programs as needed. Proficiency in Microsoft Office Suite, Box, Adobe Acrobat, ImageQuant, LabMatrix, and Bandwidth Density Plot Software. Willingness to develop proficiency in other software as needed.

 

WORKING CONDITIONS

CLIA laboratory environment.

The Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) federally regulate laboratory testing and require clinical laboratories to be certified by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) before they can accept human samples for diagnostic testing.

Must be willing to adjust working hours according to the nature of ongoing experiments, clinical testing, and work extended hours to finish the experiments. Working on weekends and holidays are required depending on the ongoing experiments and clinical testing schedule and need to accelerate data generation and data collections.

May be exposed to laboratory hazards, such as bloodborne pathogens, infectious agents, chemicals, repetitive motion, fumes, dust, and select agents. May need to lift up to 24 lbs. Personal protective equipment required include protective eyewear, laboratory coat, appropriate gloves, respiratory protection, and safety shoes. Ergonomic concerns may include the need to perform activities, such as balance, bend, stoop, kneel, keyboard usage, push/pull, reach above shoulders, repetitive motion, squat, and computer/mouse usage.

 

DIVERSITY STATEMENT

Case Western Reserve University strives to maintain a diverse and inclusive work environment and is committed to Equal Opportunity and Diversity. All applicants are protected under Federal law from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, age, and genetics.

 

REASONABLE ACCOMODATIONS

Case Western Reserve provides reasonable accommodations to applicants with disabilities. Applicants requiring a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application and hiring process should contact the Office of Equity by phone at 216.368.3066 or by email at equity@case.edu. Determinations as to granting reasonable accommodations for any applicant will be made on a case-by-case basis. 

 

COVID VACCINATION

Case Western Reserve University has implemented a COVID Vaccination policy requiring evidence of COVID-19 vaccination for all students, faculty and staff with an on-campus presence. Religious and medical exemptions may be provided in accordance with applicable federal and state laws. For more information go to: https://case.edu/equity/covid-19-accommodations. Applicants may contact the Office of Equity at 216-368-3066 / equity@case.edu for information regarding religious or medical exemptions as an accommodation.

 

HOW TO APPLY

Applicants may send inquiries containing a Curriculum Vitae (CV) with a list of publications to Crystal Moskal at cdm95@case.edu.