Principal Scientist, Synthetic Biology

South San Francisco, CA, United States
Jul 25, 2021
Required Education
Bachelors Degree
Position Type
Full time

The Principal Scientist will lead a small team responsible for genetic engineering and testing in the context of cell and gene therapy. This individual will lead a team focused on innovative methods and genetic payloads for regulated cell killing (e.g., safety switches). The candidate will collaborate with research program teams and functional groups throughout the company to design and engineer safety switches to meet project needs. This work will require expertise in synthetic biology, molecular biology, gene editing and lentiviral biology and excellent collaboration and management skills.

  • Supervise and participate in the design, construction and testing of functional payloads for engineered cells and lentiviral-based gene therapy vectors, especially payloads designed for regulated cell killing, including reagent design and procurement
  • Lead the design of short-, mid and longer-term strategies and approaches for innovative safety switch designs
  • Collaborate with research functional leaders and program leaders to ensure that payloads are designed and constructed to meet specifications, and communicate robustly with them throughout development
  • Develop screening designs suitable for automation (if appropriate) and methods for tracking cell fates (e.g., barcoding with single cell sequencing) with appropriate controls
  • Design in vitro and in vivo testing strategies with go/no decision criteria to prove out payload efficacy and safety in partnership with our pharmacology and toxicology team
  • Collaborate closely with Analytical Genomics and Computational Biology to develop methods and analyze data for payload testing
  • Manage a small team including day-to-day scientific supervision, on-going performance management, and career development
  • Maintain good electronic lab notebook procedures, and ensure data and reports are properly stored in ELN/LMS and ensure compliance across team
  • Participate in cross-functional team meetings representing function and team as appropriate
  • Provide regular oral and written communication on all projects and milestones to all relevant cross functional teams.


Basic Qualifications
  • Ph.D. in Cell Biology, Synthetic Biology, Biophysics, Molecular Biology, Bioengineering or related discipline with a minimum of 5 years of directly related experience in the biotech/pharmaceutical industry
  • Direct hands-on experience with gene and genome editing such as CRISPR-Cas9 or equivalent, lentiviral biology and/or gene therapy vector and payload design
  • Skills in synthetic biology, genetic engineering or gene circuit design (knock-ins and knock-outs), cell biology, cloning and molecular biology
  • Demonstrated experience managing a small team (2 or more direct reports ranging from RA to scientists)
  • Must be detail oriented, self-motivated, flexible, and able to prioritize and manage several fast-paced projects concurrently
  • Outstanding verbal and written communication skills for technical and non-technical audiences
  • Demonstrated ability to work in cross-functional teams as a strong team player as well as independently
  • Known for his/her/their delivery of projects within a timeframe
  • Ability to demonstrate Sana core values as demonstrated in interviews
  • Working safely in person on a predictable and regular in-person basis is an essential job function for this position and the Company requires that all individuals working in-person, subject to certain exceptions, be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

Preferred Qualifications
  • Experience with engineering of safety switches
  • Experience working with stem cells including differentiation
  • Experience working with barcoding systems and/or single cell analysis
  • Experience in lab automation and high throughput screening

To perform this job successfully, you must be able to perform each job responsibility satisfactorily. The job description listed above is representative of the knowledge, skills, and/or abilities required for this position. Reasonable accommodations may be made to enable individuals with disabilities to perform the functions described above.

At Sana, we believe that a diverse workforce strengthens us as a company and helps us to achieve our mission to meaningfully change the outcome of many human diseases. This belief is a pillar of our business and is critical to our success. Our goal is that Sana is the place for talented people to bring their authentic selves to work, to have a great career and to deeply, positively impact patients.

We are committed to providing a workplace free of discrimination and harassment based on race, color, religion, age, gender, national origin, ancestry, physical or mental or sensory disability (including the use of a trained guide dog or service animal by a person with a disability), genetic information, actual or perceived HIV or Hepatitis C infection, medical condition (cancer or a record or history of cancer and genetic characteristics), marital status, sexual orientation, sexual preference, pregnancy (including childbirth and related medical conditions), disability, veteran status, political ideology, taking or requesting statutorily protected leave, status as a victim of domestic violence, sexual assault or stalking, or any other basis prohibited by applicable law.

Core to our values, we believe there is nothing more important than the health and wellness of you and your family. We cover 100% of the cost for employee health coverage and offer generous time-off, parental leave, short- and long-term disability, financial wellness programs, a 401(k) Plan, Employee Stock Purchase Plan, commuter subsidy and a variety of wellness offerings to support each person individually.