Research Associate - Zhou lab

Science Novato, California


The Buck Institute has an opening for a Research Associate to study cellular aging and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in the lab of Dr. Kai Zhou.

The Zhou lab uses budding yeast as the main model organism to study the cell biology of aging with an emphasis on proteostasis and mitochondria. We also have a broad interest in other cellular structures and aim to discover new inter-organellar communications/interactions. Proteostasis defect and mitochondrial dysfunction are two conserved hallmarks of aging and many neurodegenerative diseases, including AD.

Budding yeast is an ideal model to study cellular aging and rejuvenation processes: both happen at the same time along the axis of asymmetric cell division, which generates an aging mother cell and a rejuvenated daughter cell. This amazing model organism is great for high-throughput screening to crack the fundamental mechanism of aging. We use multiple cutting-edge imaging methods, high-throughput screening, biochemistry, bioinformatics, and machine learning to address systematically the response of cellular proteome towards stress, aging and AD-related proteins.

We are interested in questions related to protein folding, protein misfolding/aggregation, phase separation, mitochondrial biogenesis and dysfunctions, as well as other cell biological questions, in response to stress, aging, and AD.

Initially, the Research Associate will receive training from senior researchers in the lab, followed by either running their own independent project(s) and/or contributing to the project of a senior researcher. The goal is for the Research Associate to author 1-2 publications, with either first or co-authorship, within 2 years to accelerate their future research career. We therefore seek candidates who can spend 2+ years in the lab to benefit from this training with enough time to complete their project. Your success is the common interest we share! Please view the Zhou lab webpage for a list of recent publications.

Education & Experience

  • Bachelor’s degree in biology or related field
  • Strong interest in proteostasis, cell biology, aging and studying new scientific techniques
  • RA will learn genetics, cell biology, proteomics, biochemistry, imaging, and bioinformatics to solve aging–related questions
  • Rewarding and challenging experience for a highly motivated individual
  • Ideal opportunity for graduates seeking research and publication experience required for future graduate/medical school applications
  • $50,000 - $65,000 salary, commensurate with experience
  • Exciting, dynamic work environment at the forefront of science using state-of-the-art techniques
  • Generous benefits package including health insurance, paid parental leave, generous vacation and 401(k) with 5% employer match
  • Collaborative environment – both for science and social activities

Please submit a cover letter addressing your past research experience, plans, and expectations for working in the lab, along with your college transcript and GPA. Please also include a current CV and contact information of 2-3 professional references to be sent on your behalf to [email protected]. You are welcome to email [email protected] with questions.

Our success will ultimately change healthcare. At the Buck, we aim to end the threat of age-related diseases for this and future generations by bringing together the most capable and passionate scientists from a broad range of disciplines to identify and impede the ways in which we age. We are an independent, nonprofit institution located in Marin County, CA, with the goal of increasing human healthspan, or the healthy years of life. Globally recognized as the pioneer and leader in efforts to target aging—the number one risk factor for diseases including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, macular degeneration, heart disease, and diabetes—the Buck seeks to help people live better longer. We are an equal opportunity employer and strive to create an atmosphere where diversity of identity, experience, and background are welcomed, valued, and supported. Candidates who contribute to this diversity are strongly encouraged to apply. The Buck Institute has an excellent research program. We offer competitive salaries, excellent benefits, a dynamic work environment, and new state-of-the-art facilities.

The Zhou lab is establishing a new research program related to aging. Our diverse lab of young scientists from many different countries enjoys making cool scientific discoveries. We believe this cultural diversity will enable us to push the frontier of science for humankind.

Related publications

  • Zhou, C. The molecular and functional interaction between membrane-bound organelles and membrane-less condensates. Front. Cell Dev. Biol. Apr 25;10:896305.
  • Liu, Q., et al., 2022. Tom70 regulates the transcription of nuclear-encoded mitochondrial proteins. eLife. 2022 Mar 2;11:e75658.
  • Domnauer, M. et al., 2021. Proteome plasticity in response to persistent environmental change. Mol Cell. 81(16):3294-3309.
  • Ruan, *, Zhou, C.* et all., 2017. Cytosolic Proteostasis through Importing of Misfolded Proteins into Mitochondria. Nature 543 (7645), 443-446.
  • Zhou C., et al. Organelle-based Aggregation and Retention of Damaged Proteins in Asymmetrically Dividing Cells. Cell 159, 530-542.
  • Zhou C., et al. Motility and Segregation of Hsp104-associated Protein Aggregates in Budding Yeast. Cell 147:1186-1196.