Senior Research Associate - Binder Development

Nkarta Inc
South San Francisco, CA, United States
Nov 12, 2020
Science/R&D, Research
Biotech Bay
Required Education
Bachelors Degree
Position Type
Full time
Senior Research Associate - Binder Development

Founded at the birthplace of biotechnology, Nkarta's mission is to discover, develop and deliver novel off-the-shelf (e.g. allogeneic) natural killer (NK) cell therapies that profoundly impact patients' outcomes and survival . The company is based on the proprietary, robust and well-characterized NK cell expansion technology pioneered by Dr. Dario Campana. Nkarta is focused on leveraging the inherent power of NK cells to identify and kill abnormal cells and recruit adaptive immune effectors to generate responses that are deep and durable.

Nkarta combines its NK cell expansion and cryopreservation platform with proprietary cell engineering technologies to generate an abundant supply of NK cells, engineer enhanced NK cell recognition of tumor targets, and improve persistence for sustained activity in the body for the treatment of cancer.

Founded in 2015, Nkarta became a public company (Nasdaq symbol NKTX) in 2020. Our development pipeline of engineered NK cell therapy candidates consists of two co-lead programs, NKX101 and NKX019. The IND for NKX101 for the treatment of relapsed or refractory AML and higher-risk MDS was accepted by the FDA in July 2020. We expect to begin dosing patients in this study by the end of 2020. As we broaden the development of NKX101, we also plan to initiate studies in solid tumors. Our second co-lead program, NKX019, is designed to target B cell lymphomas. We plan to file our IND for NKX019 with the FDA in early 2021. In addition, we recently completed the construction of a GMP compliant clinical manufacturing facility in our South San Francisco location designed to produce viral vector and supply our initial clinical trials.

Position Title Senior Research Associate

Location South San Francisco, CA

Reports to Staff Scientist

Position Summary

We are seeking an experienced, highly motivated and detailed oriented individual with strong background in antibody discovery approaches to join our Binder Development team. The successful candidate will be expected to participate in all aspects of generation and characterization of CAR binders for lead selection for preclinical development. This will involve extensive hands on laboratory work, planning and data analysis.

Key Responsibilities

• Executes cell based binding and functional screening assays for identifying a broad panel of target-specific antibody binders and reformatting them into CAR constructs for lead selection screening for multiple targets.

• Supports reagent generation internally or CRO outsourcing for binder discovery campaigns (B cell cloning, hybridoma, phage display) and high throughput CAR screening assay.

• Provides team support for basic laboratory tasks including cell line inventory management, reagent ordering and equipment maintenance.

• Conducts experiments independently; accurately record, analyze and communicate data to senior staff and team members.

• Presents results in team meetings and deliver presentations to both small and large groups.

Position Requirements

• Previous experience with any antibody discovery approaches such as hybridoma generation, single B cell cloning and phage display techniques.

• Expertise in tissue culture, multi-color flow cytometry, other general techniques such as transfections (electroporation and virus production/transduction) and ELISA.

• Hands-on experience with antibody binding assays such as FACs and ELISA with data processing software BD FACSDiva and FlowJo.

• Experience with mammalian cell transient transfection for reagent generation/purification and generation of target specific stable cell lines for binder screening assay.

• Experience with standard molecular biology techniques such as cloning, primer design and generation of expression vectors.

• Proficiency in multi-color flow cytometry.

• Ability to work on complex problems where analysis requires an in-depth evaluation of multiple CAR formats for target binding and functional activation in high throughout cell-based screening assays.

• Strong verbal and writing skills for documentation of data, drafting of technical reports, and communication of progress to supervisor and project teams.

• Must be able to work independently and multi-task within a fast-paced team environment with a high degree of self-motivation and organization.

• Embodies the company culture of empowerment, diversity, and inclusion.


• Previous experience with virus production, viral transduction of immune cells.

• Experience with culture of human primary immune cells (NK, T) and primary tumor tissue.

• Experience with hybridoma and mammalian tissue culture and single cell cloning by limiting dilution or flow cytometry-based sorting.

Education / Background

• BA/BS in biology-related discipline and 10+ years of laboratory experience, MS in biology-related discipline with 7+ years related laboratory experience

Work Environment / Physical Demands

This position requires the ability to occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds. Specific vision abilities for this job include close vision, depth perception, and ability to adjust focus. The common requirements of an office environment (computers, computer screens, workstations, etc.) apply when not working in or around the laboratory environment. Car and airplane travel might be requirement of this role.

About Nkarta

The 70+ team members at our South San Francisco, California headquartered location describe working at Nkarta, along with opportunities for improvement, in some of the following ways:

"Work is interesting - lots of projects in the pipeline (so I don't have to worry about the one project failing). Leadership is open, straight forward."

"Smart, capable, nice people. People I work with day to day are enjoyable."


"I like that the company is open minded with a (people) -(looking for) a set of skills that can grow (as opposed to thinking you have to have exactly what's in a job spec now) Things that broaden their (employees) skills and growth."

"Like any startup there are fires to put out; feel confident we have the people to control those fires."

"Diverse people from different backgrounds."

To learn more about our work at Nkarta and the career opportunities that will drive us forward to serve patients, please visit the company's website at