SYNTHETIC BIOLOGIST - SCIENTIST LEVEL I-III at Koniku Inc.
San Rafael, CA, US

Koniku is an early-stage, rapidly-growing company based in Silicon Valley. We build smell cyborgs by merging genetically modified living biological neurons with classic devices. Our flagship device, the Konikore™, detects smells using GPCR’s or olfactory receptor proteins hosted in biological cells. There are dynamic applications in healthcare, security, synthetic flavors & foods, and much more. 

We partner with a range of Fortune 500 companies as Technology Integrators and have been recently featured by The Financial Times, CNN, Bloomberg, TechCrunch & others. Notable partners, customers and investors include: Airbus, BASF, Thermo Fisher Scientific, Fraunhofer Institute Stuttgart, P&G, SoftBank, Platform Capital, IndieBio (SOSv).  

Beyond the numerous B2B opportunities, we aim to have a Konikore in ten million homes as a real-time disease diagnostic tool within the next decade. Koniku is a face-to-face company and our campus & culture are the nucleus of the Koniku spirit. Our headquarters include a next-generation deep technology Wetlab and a robust manufacturing facility, alongside our corporate, administrative & customer support teams. We are driven by a fundamental belief that “Bio is Tech™”.

JOB SUMMARY 

This role is suitable for individuals with deep knowledge and a demonstrable track record doing in vitro neuroscience, mammalian cell biology & cellular signaling. Your role will involve developing new neural cell-based assays and optimizing existing ones. This role is not for “research-focused candidates”. We are interested in “how to” as opposed to “why”. We seek a technology developer within a technology & products team.

You will work with the team to develop an array of neural cell libraries. Work on at the forefront of expression systems/methods for olfactory receptors. Your work may include introducing further exogenous genes into neural cells to achieve specific (“non-physiological”) functions. 

We expect you to design and implement state-of-the-art expression vectors/systems for the precise and controllable behavior of neural cells and olfactory receptors. This role is one of the multiple roles being actively recruited. The ideal candidate thrives by leading with clearly communicated updates, timelines, and solid statistically relevant data. 

WHY IT MATTERS

Koniku’s wetware technology relies heavily on the biological side. We believe in moving most of the processing work our chips do to the biological side. That means if there is a detection, processing or computational problem to be solved, can we use biology to solve it first? The biological part of our chips, neural cells expressing olfactory receptors - GPCRs should do as much work as possible before passing the resulting signals to the electronics.

We are working to make the biology aspects more robust, faster, and more sensitive. The role is a key contributor and team leader for this technology vision. The recruited individual is a key thought leader, technology driver and a primary decision-maker on the direction of Koniku’s synthetic neurobiology. Importantly, the role needs an individual with leadership traits, a strong bias to execute and deliver results that meet Koniku’s goals and vision.

RESPONSIBILITIES

  • Lead the design and perform hands-on work designing, implementing and testing/screening genetic constructs in neural cells.
  • Design and implement synthetic pathways to achieve specific performance features, such as faster signaling, increased signal-to-noise, shortened refractory period, and other features.
  • Rigorously analyze, interpret and deliver results in a timely fashion to meet the company's objectives.
  • Lead a small team of junior scientists in solving challenging synthetic problems from a fresh perspective.
  • Conduct comprehensive literature analysis with an emphasis on pursuing great reproducible science.
  • Immaculate records of experiments in physical and online lab notes.

QUALIFICATIONS

  • A Ph.D in synthetic biology, neuroscience or olfaction, bioengineering, genetics, biochemistry, or related fields is a must have.

  • Experience in cellular signaling, protein expression strategies and related disciplines is a strong plus.
  • At least five years experience in neural cells engineering from a reputable lab or company is highly desirable. Similar experience in mammalian cell engineering will be considered.
  • Demonstrable experience and solid results in using computational biology to rationally design signaling pathways is a bonus.
  • Familiarity with a programming language like R, Python, or similar programming language is a plus.
  • The ideal candidate is keen to see their work in the real world, has a deep desire to automate and transmit their results readily to other teams for scale. You are able to own your work, pass it on and move to newer challenging projects.
  • This role is suitable for an individual with prior industrial or start up experience. Alternatively, a focused and dedicated individual with entrepreneurial drive and deep scientific passion would find this position meaningful.
  • You are a strong leader and great team player.

COMPENSATION & BENEFITS

  • Salary range $140,000 - $220,000 per year (depending on qualification and justified ability to deliver on exact metrics).
  • Generous sign-on bonus and performance-based grants.
  • Opportunity to participate in the company's employee equity program.
  • Employer-sponsored 401K plan with 4% matching. 
  • Generous health, life, dental and vision insurance.
  • Paid & flexible vacation.
  • Fully-paid parental leave.
  • Reserved parking and commuter benefits.