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Job Vacancy Announcement – Staff Scientist 1 in Unit on Neuromodulation and Synaptic Integration

Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Division of Intramural Research Programs (IRP)
Unit on Neuromodulation and Synaptic Integration (UNSI)

Program Overview

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), a major research component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), is seeking exceptional candidates for a Staff Scientist 1 position in the Division of Intramural Research Programs (IRP), Unit on Neuromodulation and Synaptic Integration (UNSI). The UNSI’s research is aimed at elucidating how the brain utilizes neuromodulation in motivational and emotional neural circuits to process information and orchestrate behavior. Another major focus of the laboratory is to identify plastic changes in neuromodulation and synaptic integration in limbic circuits of animal models of psychiatric disorders to elucidate novel therapeutic targets and increase our understanding of conventional therapies. The laboratory employs an inter-disciplinary approach including electrophysiological, in-vivo imaging, optogenetic, and viral and transgenic techniques to dissect the function of neuromodulators, such as opioid receptors, in regulating synaptic integration in single cells, microcircuits, and distributed limbic networks to control motivated behavior.

Position Overview

The Staff Scientist’s primary responsibilities include independently providing the following: Performance of anatomical experiments, including animal perfusions, brain slice preparation, in-situ hybridization and immunohistochemical approaches, imaging of samples and data analysis. Perform behavioral experiments in rodents that include in vivo optogenetics, site-directed pharmacology, chemogenetics, viral-mediated gene transfer, as well as in vivo imaging experiments. Perform surgical procedures including intracranial viral injections, guide cannula implantation, optical fiber implantation and GRIN lens implantation. Preparation of solutions and specimens for electrophysiological experiments, as well as work with staff to collect data from experiments. Develop cutting-edge algorithms for the detection of single cell neuronal activity in-vivo, the employment of a multiple linear regression encoder to derive how specific behavioral and task features predict activity of single neurons. Employ population-level analysis of single cell imaging experiments, monitoring trajectories of population activity in principal component space. Apply computational approaches to decode how neuronal firing obtained from freely-moving animals encodes behavior.

Work with principal investigator to provide training and technical guidance to scientific staff in electrophysiological, anatomical, behavioral, optogenetic, in vivo imaging approaches and surgical procedures. Assist staff with analysis and interpretation of behavioral, anatomical and physiological data. Collaborate with staff on the development and implementation of novel experimental and behavioral approaches in the laboratory to investigate cellular and brain circuit function. Assist with development of novel sensors to automate various behavioral testing apparatus. Integrate single cell activity with post-hoc registration to molecular-identified cells using in-situ hybridization. Maintain detailed records of experimental data, images, summaries and other materials for inclusion in publications. Oversee laboratory supplies and equipment, enforce and practice laboratory safety guidelines.

Excellent communication skills required in support of collaborations with other scientists with similar interest to maximize the utilization of institute resources. Assist with training members of other scientific laboratories in in-vivo imaging experiments and aid in training them in data analysis and interpretation, as well as assist other laboratories with setup of in-vivo imaging approaches.

Present scientific data at relevant regional and national conferences. Assist with organization of joint meetings based on cellular-based systems neuroscience. Attend required training for new methodologies and techniques to stay up to date on latest developments. Capable of leading independent research projects, having a reputation as a forward-thinking scientist in the field of cortical circuits, G-protein coupled receptors, and neuropeptides.


Candidates must hold a Ph.D., in biology, neuroscience or a related discipline. Minimum of five (5) year of experience in a research laboratory. Strong communication skills, both oral and written. Excellent analytical, organizational and time management skills. In particular, we are seeking someone with specific skills, knowledge and experience with electrophysiology, in vivo optogenetics, site-directed pharmacology, chemogenetics and viral-mediated gene transfer.


How to Apply

The position is open to both U.S. and non-U.S. citizens. Applications from women, persons from underrepresented groups, and persons with disabilities are strongly encouraged. Salary will be commensurate with education and experience. The position is subject to a background check. Interested candidates must submit a current curriculum vitae, a statement of research background and interest in the position, and two letters of recommendation to Hugo Tejeda, Ph.D., via email at and please cc

Applications will be accepted until: March 7, 2024 

HHS and NIH are equal opportunity employers

The NIH is dedicated to building a diverse community in its training and employment programs and encourages the application and nomination of qualified women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities.