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Research Assistant in Oligonucleotide Chemistry and Diagnostics


A research position in the area of oligonucleotides is now open. This collaborative project is aimed at the development of new methods and materials for the diagnosis of infectious diseases such as COVID-19. The candidate will conduct the synthesis and purification of oligonucleotides used for quantitative, real-time PCR (qPCR) in the Damha-Luedtke Labs at McGill University.


Research Project Quantitative, real-time PCR (qPCR) is the “gold-standard” test for detecting active viral infections, such as SARS-CoV-2 for the diagnosis of COVID-19. No other method can match the sensitivity and specificity of this approach. Synthetic oligonucleotides and fluorescent probes are the “brain” of qPCR reactions, where different sequences and probe colors can be used to distinguish between different types of viral infections. We are looking for a research assistant to help with the synthesis, purification and evaluation of novel oligonucleotides for use in qPCR. This is part of a broad “Made by McGill” initiative for the production of COVID-19 testing materials (https://www.mcgill.ca/newsroom/article/madecanada-covid-19-test-developed-mcgill-receives-government-support). In this large, collaborative research project, materials and methods for the detection of viral genomes will be developed for use in simple, kit-based diagnostic devices. A combination of fundamental research, materials production, device construction, and functional testing will be required for success.


Skills and Experience The candidate is required to have recently completed a B.Sc. or M.Sc. degree in chemistry, preferably with some familiarity with the synthesis and purification of oligonucleotides. The candidate must be able to work both independently and as part of a team, and they must be able to conduct in-person research while adhering to special COVID-19 safety protocols.


Application Procedure Candidates are asked to submit a CV and cover letter to Prof. Nathan Luedtke (nathan.luedtke@mcgill.ca). Requests for two reference letters will be made shortly after the initial selection round, and interviews conducted by video conferencing. We welcome applications from Aboriginal persons, persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities, persons of minority sexual orientation or gender identity, visible minorities, women and others who may contribute to diversification. All qualified applicants are encouraged to apply, although Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority.

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