Open Positions

Recruiting
The Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at Houston Methodist is recruiting faculty in the following areas.

For more information, contact John P. Cooke, MD, PhD, chair of the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences and Director for the Center for Cardiovascular Regeneration at  jpcooke@houstonmethodist.org

Center for RNA Therapeutics

Research Associate-RNA Therapeutics
The Research Associate I is responsible for providing advanced technical research skills and establishing test methods and procedures under the direction of Department Chairperson or Scientist (Faculty). Their duties will be as a researcher focusing on existing RNA therapy projects (~75-80% effort) and also to design and implement a novel RNA therapy project of their own design ~20-25% effort). Candidates will have the opportunity to do both basic science and translational research as they work in a fast-paced and collaborative research environment in the heart of the Texas Medical Center at the Houston Methodist Research Institute. They will learn new RNA molecular biology skills and use their skills to design and develop new candidate RNA therapeutics in the lab of Dr. Daniel Kiss.

Scientist - RNA Therapeutics

Functions as independent scientist and may be allocated space, resources, and other operational support within TMHRI. Individuals in this position are expected to have their own extramural funding and publications portfolio. Evidence of teaching, patented or licensed discoveries, extramural recognition, institutional service, collaborative and effective interactions with other faculty and staff, and, where relevant, clinical excellence and performance.

  • Develops and manages independent grant portfolio
  • Develops and publishes in high impact journals
  • Administers funds provided by the specific grant(s). (EF)
  • Defines problems and possible solutions as dictated by the research project. (EF)
  • Establishes procedures to be applied for projects. (EF)
  • Designs, develops, or adapts equipment used in experiments or research to obtain desired results. (EF)
  • Coordinates and provides technical direction to the work activities of research staff engaged in projects. (EF)
  • Performs and supervises those procedures which require a highly developed technical skill. (EF)
  • Analyzes data and interprets data. (EF)
  • Reviews scientific literature. (EF)
  • Identifies appropriate internal controls for department; provides mechanisms to monitor and enforce compliance. (EF)
  • Demonstrates the components of the ICARE values statement.
  • Follows all safety rules while on the job. Reports accidents promptly and corrects minor safety hazards. Completes all hospital required and job-related in-services and applies the information as needed.
  • Performs other duties as assigned

Postdoctoral Fellow - RNA Therapeutics

At Houston Methodist, the Postdoctoral Fellow position is responsible for performing basic research duties under the supervision/direction of a Physician (Principal Investigator). This position may work in a laboratory setting or may consist of computer work that supports the department’s research mission.
  • Assists the physician in maintaining the functionality and operations of the Principal Investigator’s (PI) laboratory. (EF)
  • Promotes a positive work environment and leads the team to be dynamic and a focused work unit that actively helps one other to achieve optimal department results. Collaborates with all members of the department by actively communicating and reporting data in a comprehensive manner. (EF)
  • Role models to team members effective verbal, non-verbal and written communication, which includes active listening and teaching, assisting in development of such skills. (EF)
  • Provides contributions towards improvement of department scores for employee engagement, i.e. peer-to-peer accountability. (EF)
  • Develops research methods and performs research activities. (EF)
  • Documents research results and writes reports of results for presentation and/or publication in professional journals and other publications. (EF)

Research Associate I

The Research Associate I is responsible for providing advanced technical research skills and establishing test methods and procedures under the direction of Department Chairperson or Scientist (Faculty).

  • Oversees a team of Research Assistants and Post Docs 0-2.
  • Assigns and reviews work of research project staff.
  • Completes/performs research experiements and incorporates novel procedures and methods into research experiments as appropriate.
  • Plans, directs and coordinates laboratory research projects (Low to medium complexity)
  • Keeps good records of all procedures and outcomes.
  • Analyze data for research grants and publications.
  • Reviews scientific literature.
  • Establishes and maintains quality control of project operations.
  • Writes and maintains regulatory and safety committee applications/protocols
  • Adheres to and assists with customizing of TMH and TMHRI Safety Procedures for Laboratory.
  • Plans and carefully designs experiments.
  • Keeps projects on required timelines.
  • A steward of HM's resources and considers this for supply orders.
  • Researches best cost/quality options for supply orders.
  • Assists with ensuring orders are on appropriate grants.
  • Participates in grant writing.
  • Determines specific research project goals and objectives to be attained. Assumes responsibility and oversight for those goals and objectives.
  • Prepares scientific presentations for departmental meetings.

Department of Cardiovascular Sciences

Computational Biology
This key recruit will have extensive expertise in bioinformatics and statistics. The ideal candidate will be able to combine high volume data on expression, location and sequence to dissect the gene regulatory programs (e.g., microRNA, lncRNA, transcriptional factors and epigenetic modifiers) that underlie developmental and regenerative processes. This individual will be expected to provide the bioinformatic infrastructure for our scientific community, and will provide expertise in the analysis of microarray gene expression data (dChip) and ChIP-chip data (TileMap), and programs for mapping cis-regulatory motifs and modules (Cis-Module, Multi-module and Ortholog Sampler). This scientist will collaborate with other scientists at Houston Methodist to generate and analyze genetic datasets and protein-protein interaction maps to derive mechanistic insights into how specific pathways, complexes and proteins function in various cardiovascular processes. These bioinformatic analyses will provide new insights and directions of inquiry.

 
Epigenetics and DNA Regulatory Control
This scientist will study regulation of cardiovascular phenotype and function at the epigenetic level. Investigations into epigenetic control of cardiovascular lineage will include key enzymes that post-translationally modify histone proteins (enzymes that add or subtract methyl, acetyl, phosphate groups; ubiquitin or sumo proteins) as well as DNA modifying enzymes. These epigenetic modifiers may place the chromatin into an ‘open configuration’ where transcriptional factors can activate gene expression or into a ‘closed configuration’ where gene expression is suppressed. Studies may include characterization of small noncoding RNAs such as microRNA, lncRNA and piwiRNA that play critical roles in the expression or stability of mRNA. This individual will collaborate with other Houston Methodist scientists in the following ways:
 

  • Apply cutting edge techniques, such as single-cell assessments of DNA methylation and epigenetic markings to assess the ‘epigenetic memory’ of transdifferentiated cells
  • Document the epigenetic fidelity after reprogramming and passaging of cells
  • Confirm the epigenetic stability of cardiovascular cells after their incorporation into bioengineered matrices

 

Genetics and Genomic Engineering
This individual will have mastered the lexicon of genetic mutations and variants involved in cardiovascular disease, and will wield techniques in genetic engineering that can correct genetic variants, such as TALENS, Zinc finger nucleases, and CRISPR/Cas. Working with Houston Methodist biologists and our cell therapist, the genetic engineer may participate in the following ways: 

  • Correct or enhance stem and progenitor cell function for therapeutic cell delivery
  • Collaborate with the nanotechnologists to develop new genetic tools
  • Interact with the computational biologist to understand the effect of an induced genetic mutation on the expression or regulation of the network of related genes involved in cardiovascular functions

 

Progenitor and Stem Cell Biology
These individuals will generate new insights into the nature and regulation of cardiac and vascular stem and progenitor cells. Their complementary skill sets and knowledge will encompass the fields of embryonic stem cells, induced pluripotent stem cells, adult stem cells, transdifferentiation of somatic cells to cardiovascular lineage and cell-cell or cell-matrix interactions in tissue engineering. They will demonstrate facility with a range of molecular and cellular technology including the following:

 

  • Quantitative DNA and RNA analyses
  • Phosphoproteomics and metabolomics
  • Stem cell culture and differentiation
  • Use of functional assays and pre-clinical models from zebra fish to murine models.


They will elucidate the genetic determinants and signaling pathways involved in the reprogramming of somatic cells to pluripotency or to cardiovascular lineage. In collaborating with the other teams, they will apply cutting edge techniques in reprogramming and directed differentiation to generate cardiac and vascular cells for studies of pathobiology of inherited cardiovascular diseases; for preclinical studies of regenerative therapies; or for integration into bioengineered conduits or pumps.
 
Vascular Biology
Endothelial and vascular smooth muscle cell signaling and function will be the domain of this scientist, who may be particularly interested in angiogenesis, endothelial regeneration, vascular smooth muscle growth and/or interaction of the endothelium with the circulating blood elements. This scientist will delve deeply into genetic, epigenetic, transcriptional, and/or post-translational mechanisms of vascular function and phenotype. Insights derived from this scientist will be expected to lead to new avenues for small molecule, gene or cell therapies. In collaborating with the other Houston Methodist scientists, this individual will be able to assess the structure/function of bioengineered vessels; test the integrity of the microvasculature in a bioengineered tissue; analyze the interaction of circulating nanoparticles with the vessel wall; and to characterize the effect of genetic variants or mutations on vascular function.

Clinical Trials
These individuals will maintain clinical practice with half of their time dedicated to clinical research in regenerative therapies for cardiac or vascular diseases. The ideal candidates will have experience in first-in-human and Phase I-III clinical trials, and will be fully conversant with FDA guidelines for drug, device and cell therapies (one trialist focus on devices, the other on pharmacotherapy and stem cell trials). The scope of work will include studies funded by NIH, NGOs or industry. Each individual will be expected to participate in and organize regional, national or international consortia of investigators performing studies in cardiovascular regeneration, and to develop a database and biobank that leverages the patient volume of Houston Methodist. Each individual will also work closely with Houston Methodist physicians and scientists who are developing new therapies and devices, in an effort to help them accelerate entry into clinical trials.