Two-year Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biotechnology/Biochemistry/Bioengineering/Molecular Biology


VinUni-Illinois Smart Health Center

Call for Applications for Postdoctoral Fellowship

Two-year Postdoctoral Fellowship in Biotechnology/biochemistry/bioengineering/molecular biology

(Total Salary for Two Years $90,000)

Open date: 01/06/2023Closing date: 31/12/2023

About us

The VinUni-Illinois Smart Health Center (VISHC), which was recently established between VinUni and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, offers a postdoctoral fellowship for outstanding young Vietnamese scholars who have recently completed their Ph.D. and are looking for a stimulating and supportive interdisciplinary environment to conduct independent and collaborative research in the fields of lung cancer therapy, infectious disease diagnostics, cancer health monitoring, design of novel biosensors, data analysis, and biomedical devices. VishC postdoc fellows will spend two years conducting research in both UIUC (Brian T. Cunningham and Xing Wang) and VinUni (Yi Hyeon Gyu, Nguyen Xuan Hung, and Tran Thi Mai)

There is a strong clinical need for a technology platform that performs multiplexed, sensitive, quantitative, rapid, and longitudinal genomic readout of tumor biology through detecting nucleic acid molecules released during initial disease development, treatment, and recurrence. While Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies aid the discovery of new genomic biomarkers for cancer, NGS does not provide the required sensitivity for detecting circulating tumor DNA (ctDNA)1 in plasma that identifies the presence of genetic variants when only a few target tumor gene copies exist within a diverse pool comprised of millions of non-tumor sequences in circulating free DNA (cfDNA). We seek to address an important gap in the capabilities of existing methods to enable routine point-of-care detection/quantification of tumor-associated genes in the blood before, during, and after treatment. Such an approach would enable more timely initial therapy selection, provide a longitudinal readout of the effects of therapy while it is underway, and enable routine post-therapy follow-up as clonal evolution emerges under selective treatment pressures. In this project funded by VinUni-Illinois Smart Health Center, we will focus specifically on rigorously demonstrating the performance of a novel assay approach called “Activate, Cleave, Capture, and Count” (AC3) for ultra-sensitive detection and quantification of several well-known mutations with clinical relevance for guiding initial therapy selection. Specifically, we will design, demonstrate, and validate AC3 assays for KRAS mutations in lung, colorectal, and pancreatic cancers. However, the technology developed in this project is broadly applicable to any ctDNA target sequence through the design of nucleic acid probes that specifically recognize the base sequence of their target.


The fellow will do the following tasks (not limited to) Task 1: Develop an assay format for AC3 that is compatible with multiplexing and enhanced throughput, along with the design and validation of synthetic guide RNA (sgRNA) probes for the most common mutations in Vietnamese lung cancer patients. Task 2: Characterize the assay to meet quantitative performance metrics. Task 3: Measure circulating miRNA and ctDNA biomarkers in plasma samples from VinMec patients.


This project is suitable for highly motivated candidates (Vietnamese only) with a Ph.D. degree in Biophysics, Biochemistry, Biology, Bioengineering, Biotechnology, Molecular Biology, or a related field. Experience in developing and characterizing biosensors with an emphasis on optics-based approaches such as fluorescence, nanoparticle tags, or label-free detection is desired. Preference will be given to candidates familiar with underlying biochemistry principles and laboratory methods required for developing and characterizing an assay for AC3 and TRAP using target mutations.

How to apply

To arrange an informal discussion, please email VinUni-Illinois Smart Health Center ( and copy Dr. Tran Thi Mai ( You must include your CV, a research summary, and the names of two recommenders who can write letters on their behalf.