O'Brien Lab


Two Postdoctoral Positions in Theoretical and Computational Biophysics are currently available in the O’Brien Lab:

Position 1. A postdoctoral scholar hired into the Theoretical Biophysics position will have strong mathematical and programming skills, experience applying them to the modeling of molecular systems, and a background in Physics or closely related fields. This researcher’s efforts will be focused on developing models that connect the rates of translation-related processes to the behavior of nascent proteins in terms of their binding to other proteins and small molecules. Predictions will be tested in a number of ways, including experimental data from collaborators as well as against the results from molecular dynamics simulations.

Position 2. A postdoctoral scholar hired into the Computational Biophysics position will have strong computational skills, including scripting and data analysis of molecular simulations, experience creating or using coarse-grained force-fields for biomolecules, and extensive experience in simulating biomolecules in high-performance computing environments. This researcher’s efforts in the O’Brien lab will be focused on studying the influence of translation kinetics on down-stream in vivo protein behavior.

The start date for these positions is flexible: any time between now and February 2018 is possible. Graduate students who will be finishing their Ph.D. within the next year are recommended to apply now and arrange for a later start date in the O’Brien lab. Interested applicants should apply through Penn State for Position 1 or Position 2. There will be a continuous review of applications until the positions are filled.

The O’Brien Lab is a multi-disciplinary team of researchers from the fields of Chemistry, Physics and Bioinformatics who are interested in addressing questions at the cutting-edge of molecular and cellular biology through the development and application of computational and theoretical techniques. These tools include mathematical modeling (1–5), coarse-grained molecular simulations (6–9) and bioinformatic methods (10). A major effort in the lab is to develop a framework to understand, model and predict the influence of translation on the behavior of newly synthesized proteins and its implications for down-stream cellular processes (11). Theoretical and computational investigations have the opportunity to significantly advance this field because there are many unanswered questions that can be addressed with our techniques. This research will have implications for the basic, biomedical, and applied sciences. There will be numerous opportunities to develop new methods, theories, and approaches that can be tested against published experimental data and unpublished data from experimental collaborators.


(1) Nissley, D. A.; Sharma, A. K.; Ahmed, N.; Friedrich, U. A.; Kramer, G.; Bukau, B.; O’Brien, E. P. Nat. Commun. 2016.
(2) O’Brien, E. P.; Vendruscolo, M.; Dobson, C. M. Nat. Commun. 2012, 3:868.
(3) O’Brien, E. P.; Vendruscolo, M.; Dobson, C. M. Nat. Commun. 2014, 5:2988.
(4) Sharma, A. K.; Bukau, B.; O’Brien, E. P. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2016, 138, 1180.
(5) Caniparoli, L.; O’Brien, E. P. J. Chem. Phys. 2015, 142.
(6) O’Brien, E. P.; Christodoulou, J.; Vendruscolo, M.; Dobson, C. M. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2011, 133, 513.
(7) Nilsson, O. B.; Hedman, R.; Marino, J.; Wickles, S.; Bischoff, L.; Johansson, M.; Müller-Lucks, A.; Trovato, F.; Puglisi, J. D.; O’Brien, E. P.; Beckmann, R.; von Heijne, G. Cell Rep. 2015, 12, 1533.
(8) O’Brien, E. P.; Christodoulou, J.; Vendruscolo, M.; Dobson, C. M. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2012, 134, 10920.
(9) Trovato, F.; O’Brien, E. P. Biophysj 2017, 112, 1807.
(10) Ciryam, P.; Morimoto, R. I.; Vendruscolo, M.; Dobson, C. M.; O’Brien, E. P. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 2013, 110, E132.
(11) Nissley, D. A.; O’Brien, E. P. J. Am. Chem. Soc. 2014, 136, 17892.