Research Scientist 1, Experimental Virology

Reports To: Principal Scientist, Experimental Virology

Position Type: Salaried, negotiable according to experience and fit; package includes company stock options, as well as tax advantaged employee benefit plans.

Tocagen is a clinical-stage, cancer-selective gene therapy company focused on developing first-in-class, broadly applicable product candidates designed to activate a patient’s immune system against their own cancer from within.

Every member of our team plays a significant role in our success. Tocagen hires individuals who share our passion for ending cancer mortality and have exceptional talent that will contribute to this goal.


The Research Scientist 1, Experimental Virology will be responsible for initiating the conception, design, development, execution, and interpretation of scientific research projects relating to virus-host interaction to enhance viral production and activities in research and development. Duties include engineering host genome, constructing and testing viral vectors in vitro, and with translational research group, in vivo to support the development and analyses of replicating retroviruses for preclinical, process and clinical development. This position may work with other departments to ensure timely completion of research projects; investigates the feasibility of applying a wide range of scientific principles and concepts to potential inventions and/or products.

Duties and Responsibilities Include But Are Not Limited To:

  • Understands the goals of the Experimental Virology group and their relationship to strategic R&D and corporate goals and objectives. Develops personal goals and maintains strategies to meet such goals within set timeframes.
  • Independently or with team members, plans research projects requiring initiative and judgment within defined procedures and practices; independently select methodological approach and specific methods to achieve research and development objectives; exercise judgment and show initiative in making technical and project decisions.
  • Works on problems of diverse scope; identify, analyze, and interpret project results.
  • Reads pertinent scientific journals and articles, maintains relevant current scientific awareness, prepares written reports on all phases of laboratory and/or field experimental work and in collaboration with other scientists, writes original proposals for research projects.
  • Significant contributor in both data and written reports conforming to defined documentation practices in support of regulatory filings, white papers, patent filings, publications, grants and other company documents.
  • Co-authors scientific papers and/or journal articles and presents research results to colleagues at scientific meetings.
  • External poster presentations and is a lead for R&D meeting presentations; may prepare and defend patent disclosures and applications including examples or portions thereof.
  • May provide guidance to other team members.
  • Complies with the company safety policies and minimizes risks to self, others and the environment, consistent with the community and industry standards.
  • Performs other duties as required.

Desired Knowledge and Abilities:

  • Strong background in virus-host interaction, molecular retrovirology and vector design is highly desired.
  • Mammalian tissue culture techniques including dilution cloning, genome editing (ZFN or CRISPR/Cas9), isolation/handling of PBMC/lymphocytes, and FACS analysis.
  • Competency in molecular biology techniques including DNA and RNA analyses (qPCR, RT-qPCR), immunoblotting, and basic bioinformatics.
  • Highly developed scientific curiosity combined with meticulous attention to detail, proficient reasoning skills in experimental design, data analysis and interpretation.
  • Demonstrated technical proficiency, scientific creativity, ability to collaborate with others, and think independently.
  • Excellent verbal/written communication skills and proficient computer skills.
  • Enjoys working in a fast paced, dynamic environment.
  • Data processing and statistical analysis skills (Excel, Prism), graphing and interpretation of experimental data.

Education & Experience:

  • Ph.D. or equivalent breadth of experience and understanding in host cell-virus interaction, molecular virology or related scientific discipline.
  • Relevant experience in at least one: molecular virology, cancer biology, gene transfer and/or genome editing technology is required.
  • Minimum 2 years postdoctoral work. Industrial experience of interest but not required.

Application Form