23andMe Postdoc Program

Overview

At 23andMe, our mission is to help people access, understand, and benefit from the human genome. Our postdoc program speaks to our values by conducting research that allows people to benefit from the human genome. Qualified postdocs leading innovative projects can help push our mission forward, translating great research into great discovery.

As a leading consumer genetics and research company, 23andMe has accumulated the world’s largest database of genotypic and phenotypic information. This data has led to over 200 publications to date and enables our Therapeutics team to discover and develop new treatments that can offer significant benefits to patients with serious, unmet medical needs.

Key Facts

  1. 23andMe’s postdoc program is a 2 or 3 year training program depending on the role, with some specific positions having the option of an additional year.
  2. The program is entirely funded.
  3. The program aims to prepare the postdoc for a successful research career in academia or industry.
  4. 23andMe postdocs will be working on real world challenges alongside our scientists.
  5. Postdocs will work towards the opportunity to publish their research in peer-reviewed journals and present their work externally at scientific meetings.

Eligibility Criteria

To be eligible for a 23andMe postdoc position, you must have completed a PhD in a STEM field.

Recruiting Timeline

We will start advertising open positions in May 2022, with start dates possible any time after that. Check back here for updates during this process.

Current Roles and Mentors

This year 23andMe is planning to support many different postdoc positions across our Therapeutics and Research teams. Each postdoc will have the opportunity to be mentored by a 23andMe scientist who is an expert in their field.

Validation of the role of long non-coding RNAs in immune disorders

Team: Therapeutics
We are seeking a creative, rigorous and independent Postdoctoral Fellow to advance our understanding of the roles of regulatory RNAs in immune disease. The successful candidate will be skilled at posing impactful scientific questions and addressing them with a broad range of computational, molecular, cellular, and in vivo approaches.
Co-Mentor: Louise Scharf Louise Scharf photo Louise is a Senior Scientist in the Discovery Biology group at 23andMe Therapeutics. Her team is focused on the discovery of novel immune-related therapeutic targets utilizing expertise in immunology, cell biology, biochemistry and biophysics. Her team leads several drug discovery programs to address unmet needs in the treatment of immune diseases. Prior to joining 23andMe 6 years ago, Louise trained as a postdoctoral fellow in Pamela Bjorkman's lab at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) studying the interplay between HIV immunogenicity and the evolution of broadly neutralizing antibodies to engineer improved antibody-based therapeutics and vaccine immunogens. She earned her Ph.D. for her work on the molecular basis of self and foreign lipid antigen presentation by 𝛾𝛿 T cells in Erin Adams’ lab at the University of Chicago. Louise has co-authored over 20 peer-reviewed publications and is an inventor on 6 patents.
Co-Mentor: Patrick Collins Patrick Collins photo Patrick is the Director of Functional Genomics at 23andMe Therapeutics. His group is focused on variant to gene to function mapping of genome-wide association signals utilizing genomic perturbation and a variety of bulk and single-cell next generation sequencing techniques. Patrick joined 23andMe Therapeutics two years after spending almost nine years at Amgen in the Genome Analysis Unit applying functional genomics to target and therapeutic discovery for cardiometabolic disease and immune oncology. Patrick’s interest in understanding non-coding regions of the genome dates back to work he did at SwitchGear Genomics as a data production lead for NHGRI’s Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project. SwitchGear Genomics was founded by former students from Rick Myers’ lab in the Genetics Department at Stanford University where Patrick earned his Ph.D. studying transcriptional regulation of clustered and bidirectional genes. Patrick has co-authored over 13 peer-reviewed publications and is an inventor on 3 patents.
Functional genomics approaches to unravel genetic variants associated with intestinal bowel disease etiology

Team: Therapeutics
The overarching goal of this project is to define the molecular etiology of inflammatory bowel disease. The aim is to set up an in vitro organoid system to study effects of genetic and environmental perturbations as a source of disease pathology. Additionally, the candidate will employ bulk and single cell sequencing to further decipher disease mechanisms in human and mouse tissue.
Co-Mentor: Abhishek Sohni Abhishek Sohni photo Abhishek joined 23andMe in early 2021 as a scientist in the Functional Genomics group in Therapeutics. He was attracted to 23andMe’s enormous genetic database and is interested in applying NGS based approaches to unravel disease pathology. His primary focus at 23andMe has been applying single cell and genetic editing based approaches to leverage the genetic information and identify potential novel target molecules for drug discovery. 23andMe’s platform empowers him to gain unique insights and understand the genetic bases of human disease and to deliver effective therapeutics. He obtained his PhD and initial postdoctoral training from KU Leuven (University of Leuven) in Belgium where he used stem cells as a model to study early embryonic and tissue development, he employed genomic approaches to identify non-canonical role of TET1 in early embryo development. As a project scientist at University of California, San Diego, Abhishek used single cell sequencing to surface a rare population of adult stem cells. He is a stem cell and molecular biologist by training with a strong background in next generation sequencing technologies.
Co-Mentor: Pranidhi Sood Pranidhi Sood photo Pranidhi joined 23andMe at the end of 2021 as a scientist in the Computational Biology team within the Therapeutics division. She earned her Ph.D. from New York University in Computational Biology where she integrated image analysis and modeling approaches to study how stochastic gene expression shapes the development of multicellular organisms. Before joining 23andMe, she developed genomic tools to uncover the molecular underpinnings of aging, cancer resistance and regenerative biology in non-model organisms, first as a postdoc at UCSF and then as part of the computing team at Calico Labs. At 23andMe, she is applying these genomics approaches to integrate various ‘omics-scale datasets to understand the biological and disease implications of genetic variants identified through 23andMe’s rich genetic database.
Studies of a common variant of COL4A3 that confers protection to diabetic kidney disease

Team: Therapeutics
Drawing from insights from human genetics and physiology, the postdoctoral fellow will characterize genetic variants for impact on protein function. The initial proposed project will be to study genetic variants associated with diseases associated with cardiometabolism, but research focus may alter depending on the science and the fellow’s interest. Experimental approaches include biochemical, cell biological and in vivo rodent models.
Mentor: Dan Lin Dan Lin photo Dan joined 23andMe as the Director of Cardiometabolism in 2021. He was attracted to 23andMe for its potential to uncover novel and unexpected insights into human biology, and its mission to transform healthcare. His lab studies biological mechanisms in disease with a focus on drug discovery. Their remit is extensive: exploring novel pathways using human genetics in many areas of cardiometabolic disease. His passion is to draw upon these genetic insights, and through engineering, testing, and pharmacology, to transform them into therapeutics. His group uses cell biological and biochemical techniques to decipher protein function and establish experimental assays to screen for drug candidates, and in vivo models to demonstrate improvement in health. Dan has published work spanning TRP ion channels, polycystic kidney disease and GPCR drugs. He completed his Ph.D. in Biology at MIT, followed by a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Tularik. Prior to 23andMe, Dan spent 17 years as a scientific leader of numerous drug discovery teams at Amgen, where he advanced dozens of programs through preclinical testing and was an active member of external outreach efforts.
Defining Neuronal Aspects of Asthma.
Multi-single-cell-omics Database for Supporting Mechanistic Hypotheses from 23andMe Genetic Hits in Eczema


Team: Therapeutics
There is growing evidence of the important roles neurons play in lung physiology. One aspect of the postdoctoral research project will be to understand the implications of the neuronal-lung axis in severe asthma pathology. The second aspect of the postdoctoral research will aim to use single cell multi-omics methods (e.g. scRNAseq/scATACseq) to profile skin and blood samples from eczema patients. The resultant database will be used to generate functional hypotheses for selected novel genetic GWAS hits and to experimentally validate the role of these genes in diseases.
Mentor: Lino Gonzalez Lino Gonzalez photo Lino is a Research Fellow within the Therapeutics Immunology group and has been with 23andMe for 6 years. His work focuses on new-target discovery/validation and leads a group of scientists working to advance targets in the autoimmune space. Lino was previously at Genentech for 15-years, overseeing the Receptor Discovery Biochemistry group. This group focused on the study of therapeutically important protein-receptor interactions, including targets in the Cancer Immunotherapy landscape and helped with the initial characterizations of BTLA and TIGIT. Lino completed his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley in 1996, studying the structural specificity of protein interactions with Tom Alber. He did a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford with Richard Scheller focusing on the structures and biochemical properties of neuronal membrane proteins involved in neurotransmitter release before joining Genentech in 2001. Lino has published over 35 peer reviewed scientific and review articles. In addition to his research, Lino has been a strong proponent of DEI efforts. For his contributions, Lino was recognized with a Genentech Diversity Champion corporate award. Lino has served two 3-year terms on the board of directors for SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Hispanics/Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) and served as national president of the Society from 2017-2018.
Using GWAS and dysregulated pathways to understand disease biology. Predicting the effects of a therapeutic modification of a protein

Team: Therapeutics
Gene mapping, that is identifying the gene(s) that’s responsible for the association signal(s) at a GWAS locus, is a key step in genetics-based drug discovery. The human disease genetics field has come to appreciate that the simple GWAS hit + eQTL = drug target model does not adequately capture the complexity of disease biology, but there are no better models to explain the effects of ~80% of GWAS hits. Providing biological context to the ever larger number of GWAS hits by integrating genetics with differential gene expression, pathway analysis and other drug discovery strategies that were successful on their own, is a potentially promising way forward we will explore.

Genetics-based drug discovery makes use of naturally occurring genetic variation. However, biological consequences -- and therefore genetic effects as read out in GWAS -- of available genetic variation are not directly related to what the effect of therapeutically modifying the function of a protein would be. Multiple independent GWAS signals at a growing number of loci, coupled with experimental methods to characterize and computational methods to predict the effects of individual variants, open the possibility of predicting the effects of loss-of-function variants. We will investigate the feasibility of building reliable models for predicting biological effects of therapeutic intervention and their utility in prioritizing drug targets.
Mentor: Vladimir Vacic Vladimir Vacic photo Vladimir is a Research Fellow in the Computational Biology group within 23andMe’s Therapeutics division. His team is focused on developing methods and building tools to advance the understanding of genetics and genomics of human diseases, with the goal of identifying disease risk genes and contributing to target discovery. Vladimir joined 23andMe in September 2015 as the Computational Biology group lead within the Research team, where he managed and contributed to internal, commercial and academic genomics projects, oversaw research sequencing and coordinated research infrastructure work with several Engineering groups. Prior to 23andMe, Vladimir was one of the founding scientists at the New York Genome Center, where he led a cancer genomics team and actively contributed to the Center’s growth from a 20- to a 150-person organization. Vladimir earned a Ph.D. in Computer Science from the University of California at Riverside, specializing in computational biology, algorithms and machine learning. He trained as a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, specializing in computational genetics of psychiatric and neurodegenerative diseases. Vladimir has co-authored 40 publications and 2 patents.
Systematic analysis of genetic interactions in complex traits for identifying new therapeutic targets and modalities

Team: Therapeutics
This research project will focus on identifying and validating genetic interactions within the 23andMe research cohort. 23andMe, the leading consumer genetics and research company, has accumulated a wealth of genotypic and phenotypic information from more than 10M participants committed to improving human health through advances in genomics. Given the scale of the data, this postdoctoral fellowship presents a unique opportunity to understand genetic interactions in a way that isn’t possible elsewhere.

Genetic interactions are defined as a combination of two or more alleles whose contribution to a phenotype cannot be completely explained in an additive manner by their marginal effects. Genetic interactions have been reported to underlie phenotypes in a variety of systems, but the extent to which they contribute to complex diseases in humans remains unclear. In principle, genome-wide association studies (GWAS) provide a platform for detecting genetic interactions in complex diseases. However, despite an abundance of published methods, robust evidence for genetic interactions has remained extraordinarily rare. It has been estimated that sample sizes of >500,000 individuals would be needed to detect significant genetic interactions under reasonable assumptions, which remains beyond the cohort size of a typical GWAS study or even of the large majority of biobanks. With hundreds of phenotypes with a sample size larger than 500,000 participants, the 23andMe research cohort offers an unique opportunity to systematically search for and characterize genetic interactions.
Co-Mentor: Pierre Fontanillas Pierre Fontanillas photo Pierre is a Senior statistical geneticist in the 23andMe Research team. He earned his Ph.D. in Ecology and Evolution from the University of Lausanne, Switzerland, under the supervision of Prof. Nicolas Perrin, where he studied the population genetic basis of dispersal and cold adaptation in small mammals. He then joined Daniel Hartl's lab at Harvard as a postdoctoral fellow where he worked on genome evolution and gene expression in fruit flies. In 2010, Pierre moved to the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT as a Research Scientist, where he worked with the first large sequencing consortia and studied the contribution of rare and common genetic variants to metabolic diseases — type 2 diabetes, lipids, obesity, and cardiovascular diseases. Pierre has co-authored 130 peer-reviewed publications.
Co-Mentor: Mauro Poggio Mauro Poggio photo Mauro is a Scientist in the 23andMe Therapeutics team. He focused on immune oncology during his Ph.D. and Postdoc at UCSF, San Francisco, California. During his graduate studies, he studied the interaction between two of the most deadly oncogenes MYC and KRASG12D. During his postdoc studies, he uncovered the presence of PD-L1 in tumor derived exosomes. His graduate student and postdoctoral manuscripts are published in Nature Medicine and Cell. In 2019 Dr. Poggio joined 23andme as a scientist. At 23andme, Dr. Poggio leads with his group the most advanced research program in collaboration with GSK.
Analyses of early (prodromal) features and progression markers of Parkinson’s disease

Team: Research
The postdoctoral fellow will work within our Parkinson’s disease (PD) research group and interact with other members of the research team in utilizing genetic and phenotype data to contribute to the advancement of Parkinson’s disease research, with a focus on better understanding who is at risk of developing PD and how fast their symptoms will progress. Additionally, you will have access to the Fox Insight dataset via Fox DEN, generated through routine longitudinal assessments (health and medical questionnaires evaluated at regular cycles), one-time questionnaires on topics ranging from environmental exposure to the impact of COVID-19, and genetic data collection for more than 10,000 participants with PD. Fox Insight is The Michael J Fox Foundation’s online, longitudinal health study of people with and without Parkinson’s disease with over 50,000 participants at present. In addition to this main effort, there may be other opportunities with the 23andMe research team to contribute to Parkinson’s disease research.
Exploring the relationship between the microbiome and Parkinson’s disease

Team: Research
The postdoctoral fellow will work within our Parkinson’s disease research group and interact with other members of the research team in utilizing genetic, microbiome, and phenotype data to contribute to the advancement of Parkinson’s disease research, with a focus on the role of the microbiome in Parkinson’s disease development and progression.

Research has shown that the gut brain axis may have a role in the development of PD. To contribute to this research, 23andMe and The Michael J. Fox Foundation (MJFF) launched a study aimed at using validated methods to investigate the differences in the gut and oral microbiomes of individuals with PD compared to controls. In addition, the study is designed to investigate the potential role of the microbiome in differences between individuals with PD. The recruitment and data collection portion of the study is complete and we are looking for a motivated postdoctoral candidate to execute the analysis phase of the project. In addition to this main effort, there may be other opportunities with the 23andMe research team to contribute to Parkinson’s disease research.
Mentor: Lucy Norcliffe-Kaufmann Lucy Norcliffe-Kaufmann photo Lucy is the Principal Scientist for the Parkinson’s disease research group at 23andMe. Her team is focused on leveraging genetic data and phenotype data provided by research participants to identify novel insights related to Parkinson’s disease development and progression. Her team leads several research initiatives to facilitate the discovery and development of disease-modifying interventions through early detection and monitoring of prodromal PD. Prior to joining 23andMe, Lucy served as the associate director of New York University’s Langone Health’s Dysautonomia Center, also serving as an associate professor of neurology, neuroscience, and physiology there. Most recently she worked in the private sector with Theravance, where she was a key contributor in the clinical development program of ampreloxetine for the treatment of patients with neurogenic orthostatic hypotension from early phase II through late stage III. Lucy has a PhD in physiology, focused on fainting which is a reflex response triggered by the autonomic nervous system. She is a highly regarded, extensively published, NIH-funded expert in autonomic disorders, neurogenetics, and neurodegenerative diseases.

Past Postdoc Project Examples

Ancestry R&D Postdoc, Kasia Bryc: 2013-2014
Kasia Bryc photo
The goals of my postdoctoral research at 23andMe were to understand how genetically inferred ancestry compares with self-reported ancestry, and better understand the patterns of ancestry across the United States. The dataset comprised of 23andMe customers who have consented to participate in research has allowed for a more continuous geographic study of individuals from across the United States, to create a genetic portrait that illustrates some of the complex cultural and social history of America, to illuminate the role of ancestry and admixture in shaping human genetic variation.
Publication
Genomics R&D Postdoc, Karl Heilbron: 2016-2019
Karl Heilbron photo
23andMe had genotyped more than 19,000 people with a self-reported diagnosis of Parkinson's disease (PD). Thanks in part to collaborations with the Michael J. Fox Foundation, my role was to mine this unique resource, establish a network of academic collaborators, and publish my findings.
Publication
Ancestry R&D Postdoc, Éadaoin Harney: 2020-2022
Éadaoin Harney photo
My research focuses on developing an approach to identify connections shared between present-day people in 23andMe’s massive genetic database and historical populations using ancient DNA.

Diving in with a Postdoc - An Interview with Karl Heilbron

  1. What were some of the highlights and challenges of being a postdoc at 23andMe?
    • Highlights: It was so much fun to work with 23andMe data. You have the opportunity to take the largest database of its kind and work with it, which is a dream come true for a data scientist. It was a perfect fit for me right after school.
    • Challenges: I was the only analyst at the time focused on Parkinson’s disease. Most of the people I interacted with were doing broad methods that applied to all traits, so I didn’t have a large technical community of people that knew Parkinson’s literature very well. I have to supplement this with a lot of reading.
    • Overall, the goods vastly outweighed the bads.
  2. What was the culture like?
    • I would describe it as very vibrant and fun. 23andMe is a great sized company where it’s not so large that it’s impersonal. As a company, 23andMe puts a lot of emphasis on culture. We’ve worked really hard to make sure that there are ways to get to know your colleagues and I’ve made a lot of very good friends at 23andMe. I was slightly apprehensive about leaving academia and coming to industry. I was pleasantly surprised by how similar the culture at 23andMe was to an academic culture. Everyone who does data analysis came from academia typically right before joining 23andMe, so it was a gentle transition. There are stereotypes about industry being cutthroat but I found it to be extremely collaborative.
  3. How did your 23andMe postdoc project prepare you for your current job?
    • My PhD was half wet lab and half on the computer. By moving to 23andMe where I was fully on the computer, I learned a ton of skills around working with big data and a high performance computing environment. After my postdoc, I was qualified to work in a variety of fields as a data analyst on a large scale.
  4. Anything else you’d like a future postdoc to know?
    • You’re only going to get out of this role what you put into this role, so don’t be shy about asking questions. It will help you grow.

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Diversity, equity, and inclusion at 23andMe fosters a workplace that embodies respect and transparency, helps us empower one another, and provides access to opportunity for everyone. Learn how you will experience diversity, equity, and inclusion at 23andMe.

Applying

How do I apply?
Apply through our careers page. Click the open listing and scroll to the “apply now” button.

How will applications be evaluated?

23andMe has all postdoc projects approved prior to hiring. Positions will include work in labs, data science, computational biology, or translational biology. All applicants will be evaluated on their prior experience and fit for the incoming year’s projects.

Are international candidates eligible to apply?

All applicants are encouraged to apply.

FAQs

How does funding work?

  • All postdocs are fully funded and will receive a competitive salary and benefits. At this time, we are not open to postdoc collaborations with outside institutions.

Do I have to live in the Bay Area?

  • Therapeutics positions require the postdoc to be based in the Bay Area as they will require attendance in our South San Francisco office. For Research positions, while we prefer all postdocs to be in the Bay Area to reap the full benefits of the program, we are willing to consider some remote arrangements within the United States on a case-by-case basis.

Does completing my postdoc project guarantee employment with 23andMe?

  • No. This is first and foremost a training program. However, we are firmly committed to providing rigorous mentorship and career development opportunities to our postdocs.
  • While we can not commit to hiring any of our postdocs as employees upon completion of their project, we encourage them to apply for open positions within the company at the completion of their training.