SMART CAMP (Critical Analytics for Manufacturing Personalized-Medicine) is a new interdisciplinary research programme in Singapore (CREATE international research campus and innovation hub) and at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). SMART CAMP addresses key technology bottlenecks in cell therapy manufacturing: (i) critical quality attributes of safe, effective cell therapy products; and (ii) integrated process analytics to monitor and modulate those attributes. While cell therapies are poised to transform healthcare for both the industry and the patient, there remain many outstanding scientific and technical challenges to significant global impact that this R&D programme addresses. This high-impact focus includes measurement and feedback control of processing parameters (process analytic technologies, or PAT) that contribute to cell viability and function during cell proliferation, and the measurement at intermediate and final steps of the cell product properties correlated with positive therapeutic outcomes (critical quality attributes, or CQA).
This interdisciplinary team comprises engineers, biologists, clinicians, manufacturing, and data analytics experts from multiple MIT academic units, and multiple Singapore-based universities, research centres of excellence, and hospitals who are experienced at translational demonstrations of technologies in safety-regulated industries such as cell therapies. As with all postdoctoral associates (PDAs) in SMART CAMP based in Singapore, the PDA will work in a diverse team of experts including several principal investigators (PIs) and PDAs, and receive direct mentorship regarding career development from a pair of who are based in Singapore and at MIT, respectively.
CAMP’s unique, enabling and cross-cutting capabilities include cell and clinical biology, microfluidics, real-time optics and spectroscopies, 3D-printed devices, process analytics, data analytics, and bioinformatics. This programme will demonstrate these approaches required of cell-based personalized medicine through three translational testbeds (three Flagship Projects), ultimately facilitating access for more patients to life-saving, approved cell therapies for currently intractable health challenges. These flagship projects will address allogeneic and autologous cell therapy products, including but not limited to cell sources including adult stem/progenitor cells and immune cells for treatment of specific cancers, tissue degeneration, and autoimmune diseases.
Flagship Project 1: Label-free critical quality attributes (CQA) for personalized efficacy of cell therapies, including multivariate analysis of biological and biophysical attributes
Flagship Project 2: Rapid critical quality attributes (CQA) for safety of cell sources & cell therapy products, including process analytic technologies (PAT)
Flagship Project 3: Integrated process analytic technologies (PAT) for cell proliferation and recovery, including in-line and intermittent monitoring to promote efficacy and safety CQA
CAMP Flagship Project 2 – Screening of baseline adventitious agent burden
One of the key challenges in deploying cell therapies lies in the analytical assays needed to confirm that they are safe for administration. A key step for broad viral detection using high-throughput sequencing (HTS) is optimizing the sample preparation strategy for extracting viral-specific nucleic acids since viral genomes are diverse. Since the identity of the potential adventitious agents is unknown prior to their detection, efficient sample preparation should be unbiased toward all different viral types in order to maximize the probability of detecting any potential adventitious viruses using HTS.
- This PDA will focus on experimental high-throughput sequencing of clinical samples and will explore the use of high-throughput sequencing for rapid and sensitive safety screening of cell therapies.
- This researcher will develop state-of-the art procedures for evaluating cell culture for the presence of potential contaminants and carry out screening of naïve donor cell samples and cell therapy patient samples to evaluation background levels of viral and bacterial contamination against which adventitious agent contaminations must be detected.
- She / he will carry out genomic profiling and metabolomic screening of a range of cell samples with targets identified though collaborative efforts with other SMART CAMP researchers.
- Finally, this researcher will collaborate with cell biologists, engineers, bio-informaticists, and microbiologists to achieve the objectives.
- Ph.D. degree in microbiology, biotechnology, or related field.
- Highly motivated candidate with experience culturing one or more cell types used in cell therapy, such as mesenchymal stromal cells or immune cells such as T-cells.
- The ideal candidate will have experience performing next generation sequencing, ideally with both Illumina and Oxford Nanopore devices.
- The ideal candidate will have experience an understanding of metabolite identification and quantification by MS/MS.
- Knowledge of current bioinformatics trends, public tools, databases and utilities, with a focus on Next Generation Sequencing and metabolomics.
- Excellent verbal and written English communication skills are required.
- Candidates with additional experience in working with viruses or bacteria will have an added advantage.
- Excellent time management and organizational skills
- Demonstrated ability to work independently, and to work collaboratively in a team
- Self-motivated, with superior organizational and analytical skills
- Good track record of publication and scientific output
- Able and committed to work in Singapore
To apply, please visit our website at: http://smart.mit.edu/careers/career-opportunities. Interested applicants are invited to send in their full CV/resume, cover letter and list of three references (to include reference names and contact information). We regret that only shortlisted candidates will be notified.