PopVax is hiring in 🇮🇳 🇺🇸

PopVax is an Indian biotechnology company based in Hyderabad which is building a thermostable, chimeric, low-cost, and safe second-generation mRNA platform for vaccines and therapeutics, starting with room-temperature stable multivariant vaccines to combat current and future strains of SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19.

PopVax's work has been funded primarily by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (India). The team includes a former founding employee of Moderna and some of India's top experts in mRNA, lipid nanoparticle (LNP) formulation, and antigen selection from both academia and industry.

Most of our scientific staff work out of our R&D lab in Hyderabad, which is located in a Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CSIR-CCMB) facility in IDA Uppal, near the Rajiv Gandhi Cricket Stadium, and we are in the process of building out GMP manufacturing in a different area of the city. We are aggressively hiring for scientific R&D, GMP manufacturing, communications, legal, and regulatory roles in Hyderabad, and are also hiring a President and a small bioinformatics-focused team at PopVax North America, which is our US subsidiary.

We believe it is imperative that we have indigenous next-generation pharmaceutical technologies -- our own research and development, not merely the means of production -- in India. Come work with us and do truly innovative R&D work to build the future of vaccines and therapeutics, not just matching Moderna, BioNTech, and the rest, but leapfrogging them on the way to a next-generation nucleic acid platform. We believe Indian scientists can more than hold their own against the West, and we intend to empower our scientists like no other company in this country ever has on our way to making Hyderabad the new global capital of the life sciences.

Open Jobs in Hyderabad (in person, start ASAP)

Antigen selection and design lead: We're looking for an experienced researcher or industry practitioner with deep expertise in viral antigen selection, with a focus on the identification of epitopes that have antigenicity against multiple similar viruses and virus variants, the design of chimeric antigens for multiviral and multivariant protection, and the in silico prediction of antigen structures for future variants of a given virus. Must have the ability to work with large datasets of protein, DNA, and RNA sequences using Python, R, or a similar programming language commonly used for data processing and statistics work, and have knowledge of state-of-the-art methods and tooling in bioinformatics relevant to this work, including the ability to build, modify, and use machine learning models for the various tasks outlined. To be clear, we don't want someone who just pipelines existing 'servers' in ways they've seen in existing publications without knowing what is going on behind the scenes -- we want someone who can code their own programs and pipeline from scratch (with reference to the relevant literature) if needed. Previous work on SARS-CoV-2 or other sarbecoviruses is a plus, as is prior work on Chikungunya and Nipah.

mRNA sequence design and optimization lead: We're looking for an experienced researcher or industry practioner with deep expertise in mRNA sequence design and optimzation, including the design and optimization of UTRs and ORF for use in humans, human codon optimization, GC and general nucleotide optimization, translation optimization, structural optimization (in particular secondary structures), and RNA folding. A familiarity with recent research on 'superfolder' RNA structures is a significant plus. A deep understanding and practical facility with computational methods for RNA design and optimization is a must, including the ability to use and debug state-of-the-art but unpolished research code in this area.

mRNA production lead (IVT): We're looking for an experienced molecular or cell biologist with end-to-end experience in mRNA synthesis via in-vitro transcription (IVT), starting from plasmid design to cloning to extraction to plasmid purification to IVT to mRNA purification. Experience with various mechanisms of capping, tailing, and reaction optimization to produce high yield is a necessity, and experience with long mRNA sequences (4kb+) would be ideal. GMP grade experience in any or all of these areas, in particular the use of large-scale fermenters and bioreactors is a massive plus, as is experience with defining and operating QA/QC procedures for these sorts of processes in a GMP setting.

DNA assembly lead (4kb+): We are looking for a scientist with deep expertise in the assembly of long oligonucleotide sequences, 4000+ base pairs in length, from smaller oligos of between 30 and 100 base pairs, as well as cloning such sequences into plasmid vectors. The ideal candidate will be able to manage this process end-to-end, from primer and vector design all to way to delivering a high-yield bacterial culture producing the desired plasmid with gene of interest, and have experience with different assembly techniques including overlapping PCR, Golden Gate/Gateway/Gibson Assembly, and Infusion cloning. Prior experience at a company such as Genscript or GeneArt that does this work as a service routinely is a huge plus.

Lipid formulation lead (nucleic acid delivery): We're looking for a formulation chemist with experience in nucleic acid delivery to help accelerate our efforts to optimize our novel thermostable LNP formulations, and to work to develop new formulations based on both existing and novel lipids and polymers, including for targeted delivery. Specific experience with mRNA delivery would be ideal, and experience with formulation development from in vitro evaluation all the way to human trials is a huge plus.

Novel lipid synthesis chemist: We're looking for an experienced synthetic chemist with deep expertise in the synthesis of cationic and ionizable lipids, ideally with a research background in novel lipid development. We intend to synthesize and test a number of novel lipids to use in LNP formulations for nucleic acid delivery to increase stability, reduce reactogenicity and toxicity, and provide desirable features such as targeted delivery, and the ideal candidate will work well with a formulation chemist, or themselves have formulation chemistry experience, so as to learn from experimentation to conceive of, optimize, and synthesize novel lipids for these purposes.

Chief Manufacturing Officer (GMP): We're looking for a pharma industry veteran with experience setting up and certifying GMP manufacturing for pharmaceuticals, ideally vaccines, from scratch in India, ideally in Hyderabad itself, and successfully achieving GMP certification from foreign regulatory regimes such as the FDA, EMA, and ANVISA. Specific experience with any of nucleic acids, lipid or liposome formulation, and lipid nanoparticle (LNP) encapsulation at GMP grade would be a huge plus, with a particular focus on stringent QA/QC methods and procedures.

Vaccine immunologist: We're looking for a senior immunologist with specific experience in vaccine development, ideally with experience leading immunology efforts for novel vaccines in industry, including for animal and human trials. Expertise in viral immunology would be ideal, and prior work on or experience with myocarditis is plus.

Toxicology and pharmacokinetics lead: We're looking for a pharmacologist with deep experience in toxicology, both for rodents and humans, as well as extensive experience in applying animal studies to examine investigational drugs' pharmacokinetics (PK) and pharmacodynamics (PD) properties and dissect disease biology. The ideal candidate would have strong and varied experience in using biochemistry, histological and molecular approaches to analyze biological samples, including histopathology, immunohistochemistry, and in situ hybridization. Prior experience with vaccines or nucleic acid pharmaceuticals of any kind would be a plus.

High-throughput DNA and RNA sequencing lead (NGS, Sanger): We are looking for a genomic scientist with deep expertise in high-throughput DNA and RNA sequencing, in particular the use of NGS platforms from companies like Illumina, PacBio, and Ion Pore, as well as classical Sanger sequencing, along with the associated computational platforms and tools. The ideal candidate will have end-to-end experience in performing sequencing -- including from sample processing all the way through data analysis -- in fast-turnaround settings where time is of the essence. Experience in diagnosing and troubleshooting day-to-day issues with sequencing hardware is a huge plus.

Molecular and cell biologist (pharmaceutical R&D experience): We are looking for a senior molecular biologist with industry experience in wet lab work for pharmaceutical research and development. The ideal candidate will have expertise in various methods of cloning, different types of PCR, primer design, sequence analysis, and the bioinformatic analysis of DNA and protein sequences, as well as the extraction of DNA, RNA, plasmids and proteins from cell, bacterial, and tissue samples, and the expression of proteins in bacteria as well as insect and mammalian cell lines. Expertise in analytical methods such as ELISA, Western Blot, FISH, IHC, flow cytometry, flourescent and confocal microscopy, BCA estimation, and immunostaining are a necessity. Experience in gene editing via classical and modern methods is a huge plus.

General counsel: We're looking for an energetic and creative lawyer to work with us across the wide range of legal issues that concern an Indian startup with global ambitions in next-generation vaccines and therapeutics. While we're ably represented by Arogya Legal on most matters in India, we want to have somebody working with us directly every day to coordinate our legal strategies across regulation, government programs, import and export, fundraising, and intellectual property, working with external counsel in India and abroad as necessary. Must have flawless command of the English language and be able to draft error-free memos, MoUs, and agreements with speed and ease. Previous experience in one or more of pharma, tech, and venture capital is a huge plus.

Chief Regulatory Officer: We're looking for a senior regulatory executive with deep expertise in the end-to-end qualification of novel vaccines in India, from preclinical development to animal trials to GMP manufacturing to human trials, all the way through to licensure. The ideal candidate will also have qualified vaccines or other pharmaceuticals for stringent regulatory regimes such as the US (FDA) and the European Union (EMA). Previous experience with a succesfully-authorized COVID-19 vaccine is a major plus.

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