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Postdoctoral Research Associate - Radiology

Postdoctoral Research Associate - Radiology

location1 Barnes Jewish Hospital Plaza, St. Louis, MO 63110, USA
PublishedPublished: 2/9/2024
Research / Development
Full Time

Job Description

Position Summary

The Castro Lab in the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology is seeking to hire a Postdoctoral Research Associate to conduct research related to understanding the role of endogenous opioids in neural circuits of affect and motivation. 

Opioid use and misuse has resulted in one of the worst public health crises of the 21st century. One major contributor for why this crisis has been so difficult to combat is that opioids possess both therapeutic (e.g., pain relief) and undesirable (e.g., addictive) properties. Until recently, the ability to parse specific opioid subsystems has been limited due inadequate technologies. In the Castro Lab, we use and develop tools that allow us to examine the biological mechanisms of opioids with molecular, cellular, circuit, and behavioral resolution.

Our lab uses a variety of next generation tools, including in vivo fiber photometry, in vivo endoscopic imaging, optogenetics and chemogenetics, genetic editing techniques (e.g., CRISPR), pharmacology, and genetic knockout/knockin. We use these tools to selectively augment specific neuropeptide systems and monitor ongoing behavior. We are particularly interested in the role of endogenous opioids in modulating affective and motivated behaviors in neural circuits across the brain. Ongoing projects include understanding how opioids regulate motivated behaviors in dorsal midbrain, how opioids regulate affect in nucleus accumbens, and how opioids control motivation in cortical nuclei. To learn more about the type of work we do, please see Castro et al., 2021, Nature; Castro and Berridge, 2017, PNAS; Castro and Berridge, 2014, Journal of Neuroscience.

The Castro Lab is embedded within the Biophotonics Research Center (BRC), a consortium of independent labs housed within the Mallinckrodt Institute of Radiology (MIR). Together, these labs develop and utilize myriad of optical technologies for neuroscience, cancer, and metabolic research. Additionally, as part of the MIR, individuals would have access to the Small Animal Magnetic Resonance Facility, which provides state of the art preclinical imaging at Washing University in St. Louis. The lab is also affiliated with the Hope Center for Neurological Disorders and the Diabetes Research Center. As a member of the Castro Lab, the postdoctoral researcher would have access to the world class resources provided by the University, and opportunities to engage with leaders in neuroscience research. 

The appointment is viewed as a training or transitional period preparatory to an academic, industrial, governmental, or other full-time research or teaching career. The appointment is of limited duration generally, not to exceed five years cumulatively unless there are extenuating circumstances. In addition to high-quality research facilities, career and professional development training for postdoctoral researchers is provided through the Career Center, Teaching Center, Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, and campus groups.

Information on being a postdoc at Washington University in St. Louis can be found at

Primary Duties & Responsibilities

Training under the supervision of faculty mentors, including (but not limited to):

  • Manage their own project.
  • Develop proficiency in multiple forms of in vivo imaging including data acquisition and analysis.
  • Develop proficiency in mouse behavior experimentation.
  • Develop proficiency in stereotaxic surgery and histology.
  • Develop proficiency in genetic and pharmacological experimental interventions.
  • Develop proficiency in Python coding.
  • Evaluate research findings and assist in the reporting of the results.
  • Develop proficiency in writing, public speaking, networking, and critical evaluation of scientific documents.
  • Present scientific work both inside and outside the University.
  • Assist with grant preparation and reporting.
  • Prepare and submit research papers.
  • Discharge their research responsibilities in a conscientious manner.
  • Adhere to ethical standards of research.
  • Maintain compliance with good laboratory practice including the maintenance of adequate research records.
  • Engage in open and timely discussion with their mentor regarding possession or distribution of material, reagents, or records belonging to their laboratory and any proposed disclosure of findings or techniques privately or in publications.
  • Behave in a collegial fashion towards co-trainees, staff members and members of the research group.
  • Adhere to all applicable University policies, procedures and regulations. All data, research records and materials and other intellectual property generated in University laboratories remain the property of the University.

Required Qualifications

Ph.D., M.D. or equivalent terminal or doctoral degree.

Preferred Qualifications

Although training is an expected and welcome aspect of postdoctoral training, we will be particularly interested in candidates that have the following expertise:

  • Knowledge of psychological theories related to affect and motivation.
  • Experience with in vivo imaging approaches.

Working Conditions

This position works in a laboratory environment with potential exposure to biological and chemical hazards. The individual must be physically able to wear protective equipment and to provide standard care to research animals.

Salary Range

Base pay is commensurate with experience.


If you are unable to use our online application system and would like an accommodation, please emailCandidateQuestions@wustl.eduor call the dedicated accommodation inquiry number at 314-935-1149 and leave a voicemail with the nature of your request.

Pre-Employment Screening

All external candidates receiving an offer for employment will be required to submit to pre-employment screening for this position. The screenings will include criminal background check and, as applicable for the position, other background checks, drug screen, an employment and education or licensure/certification verification, physical examination, certain vaccinations and/or governmental registry checks. All offers are contingent upon successful completion of required screening.

Benefits Statement

Washington University in St. Louis is committed to providing a comprehensive and competitive benefits package to our employees. Benefits eligibility is subject to employment status, full-time equivalent (FTE) workload, and weekly standard hours. Please visit our website at to view a summary of benefits.

EEO/AA Statement

Washington University in St. Louis is committed to the principles and practices of equal employment opportunity and especially encourages applications by those from underrepresented groups. It is the University’s policy to provide equal opportunity and access to persons in all job titles without regard to race, ethnicity, color, national origin, age, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, protected veteran status, or genetic information.

Diversity Statement

Washington University is dedicated to building a diverse community of individuals who are committed to contributing to an inclusive environment – fostering respect for all and welcoming individuals from diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives. Individuals with a commitment to these values are encouraged to apply.