Scientist/Senior Scientist - Molecular Biologist CAR-T Engineering

Pre-Clinical and Translational Science Thousand Oaks, California

We launched Atara Biotherapeutics in August 2012 to help patients with serious diseases and few therapeutic options. We’re named after Atara Ciechanover who suffered from cancer before passing away. We are considered a leading off-the-shelf T-cell immunotherapy company (Nasdaq ATRA) developing novel treatments for patients with cancer, autoimmune and viral diseases.

Position Summary:

We are seeking an experienced Molecular Biologist with expertise in molecular immunology, immuno-oncology, and/or protein/antibody engineering to contribute to the development of allogeneic Chimeric Antigen Receptor (CAR) T cell therapies. The position will play a critical role in the modular design and validation of new CAR-T constructs for preclinical and clinical evaluation.  

Prior hands-on experience in the molecular cloning of CAR constructs, or antibody engineering is required. Experience with CAR-T functional characterization of immune cells is also preferred. Investigation will focus on engineering and evaluating novel CARs using in vitro systems.

Reports to:  Associate Director – CAR-T Development, Preclinical & Translational Science 

Location:  Thousand Oaks, CA 

Primary Responsibilities: 

  • Design and generate constructs for allogeneic CAR-T cell products
  • Structure-function analysis of chimeric-antigen receptors
  • Develop and execute NGS applications (TCR sequencing, RNAseq/molecular pathway analysis, qPCR/vector copy number analysis) for the characterization of novel CAR T cells
  • Independently designs and executes molecular CAR-T generation workflows and IND- enabling studies to evaluate molecular signatures of products in preclinical in vitro models of cancer and other disease indications
  • Application of molecular workflows to translational biomarker analysis
  • Collaborate with the CAR T functional characterization team to perform in vitro characterization of novel CAR- T cells in cell-based assays
  • Designs and performs studies to examine molecular and biochemical mechanisms of action in vitro
  • Establishes basis for novel assays and method validation in collaboration with QC and analytical groups
  • Presents at group meetings and project team meetings
  • Opportunity to manage research associate(s)

Travel:  Travel required (up to 10%)

Physical Requirements:  Subject to extended periods of sitting and/or standing, vision to monitor and moderate noise levels. Work is generally performed in an office, laboratory, or manufacturing environment. Car and airplane (see above) travel is an essential part of the job

Professional Qualifications and Position Requirements:

  • PhD in Molecular Biology, Immunology, and/or Cancer biology with 2 years postdoctoral experience (Scientist) or >5 years postdoctoral experience (Senior Scientist) in T cell or immunotherapy-based research
  • Experience with modular design and evaluation of human CAR-T therapies or therapeutic antibodies; Industry experience in adoptive T cell or antibody therapeutics is preferred
  • Experience with NGS technologies
  • Experience in gene editing technologies including CRISPR/Cas9
  • Working knowledge of all stages of CAR design and retrovirus generation (gamma or lentivirus)
  • In-depth understanding of T cell biology and/or TCR function within the tumor microenvironment and or autoimmune contexts
  • Technical familiarity in primary immune cell isolation, immunophenotyping using flow cytometry, proliferation, and cytotoxicity assays
  • Significant contributions and productivity in immunology and/or cancer biology research as evidenced by publications in high impact journals and presentations at scientific conferences. 

More About Atara Bio:
Now in our sixth year, we’re proud of our team of 300+ Atarians co-located by design in South San Francisco (corporate headquarters) and Southern California (R&D and manufacturing headquarters in the northwest Los Angeles area) with a newly-established European headquarters in Zug, Switzerland. Atara also has a R&D site in the Denver, Colorado area and an office in New York City. Our Southern California hub is anchored by a new 90,000 sq. ft., state-of-the-art Atara T-Cell Operations and Manufacturing (ATOM) facility in Thousand Oaks, California.

One mission – “Transform the lives of patients with serious medical conditions through pioneering science, teamwork and expertise” – and a singular vision – “Cell therapy treatment for every patient, any time – provide inspiration and direction for all of us.”

The Company's off-the-shelf, allogeneic T-cells are bioengineered from donors with healthy immune function and allow for rapid delivery from inventory to patients without a requirement for pretreatment. Atara's T-cell immunotherapies are designed to precisely recognize and eliminate cancerous or diseased cells without affecting normal, healthy cells.

Atara's most advanced T-cell immunotherapy in development, tabelecleucel, or tab-cel™ (formerly known as ATA129), is being developed for the treatment of patients with Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) associated post-transplant lymphoproliferative disorder (EBV+ PTLD) who have failed rituximab, as well as other EBV-associated hematologic and solid tumors, including nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). Tab-cel™ is in Phase 3 clinical development for the treatment of EBV+ PTLD following an allogeneic hematopoietic cell transplant (MATCH study) or solid organ transplant (ALLELE study).

Atara is also developing off-the-shelf, allogeneic ATA188 and autologous ATA190 T-cell immunotherapies using a complementary targeted antigen recognition technology for specific EBV antigens believed to be important for the potential treatment of multiple sclerosis (MS). A Phase 1 clinical study of autologous ATA190 in patients with progressive MS is ongoing. Atara is also advancing a Phase 1 clinical study of ATA188 in patients with progressive or relapsing-remitting MS across clinical sites in the United States and Australia. Atara's clinical pipeline also includes ATA520 targeting Wilms Tumor 1 (WT1) and ATA230 directed against cytomegalovirus (CMV) 

Working at Atara Bio

People at Atara Bio are high integrity, roll-up-your-sleeves, get-it-done types who are keenly committed to putting patients first, advancing medical care and doing so with demonstrated urgency. At their core Atarians are people who work well with others and are “team-centric”, have purposeful curiosity and can’t wait to save patient lives. And similar to other biotech companies who have so many accomplished people, we expect humility (we are a “low hubris” sort of place), flexibility, respect, teamwork, good judgment and getting the most out of any dollar we spend. We also expect to enjoy the journey (and each other) as we move forward with a shared responsibility to teach and to learn from what we do and from our teammates. 

Atara Bio is an equal opportunity employer and makes employment decisions on the basis of merit and other lawful factors. In accordance with applicable law, the Company prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, creed, sex, gender (including pregnancy, childbirth or medical condition related to pregnancy or childbirth), gender identity, expression or dysphoria, marital status, age, national origin or ancestry, physical or mental disability, medical condition, genetic information, veteran status, caregiver status, sexual orientation, transgender status or any other classification protected by federal, state or local laws or because of the individual’s association with a member of a protected group or connection to an organization or group related to a protected group.

We comply with all applicable national, state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment as well as employment eligibility verification requirements of the Immigration and Nationality Act. All applicants must have authorization to work for Atara Bio in the United States.