Postdoctoral Fellow - developmental signaling, gene regulatory networks

Date Posted
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Name of Hiring Official/Investigator

Job Description

The limb as a model for developmental regulation and evolution of vertebrate form.

Fully-funded NIH intramural postdoctoral and postbaccalaureate fellowship positions in developmental morphogenesis to study the role of Shh and downstream signaling centers in vertebrate limb patterning (formation of different digit types and adaptations), using molecular-genetic and genomic approaches. 

Our long-term focus is on understanding how regulatory networks instruct the formation of structures with distinct shapes, such as the varying bony segments and joint numbers in different digits arising from the same tissues/cell types, and consequently aren't based in cell fate changes.  

Current interests include genome-wide approaches to identify key Shh relay signals and their relation to late signaling centers, comparative evolutionary analyses to reveal regulatory mechanisms underlying morphology-based adaptations and combined genetic/genomic strategies to explore the dynamic nature and robustness of Shh-producing cells, which we think arise from a renewing progenitor population in the limb.

Applicants should have a strong background in developmental and/or evo-devo biology, and prior experience with cutting-edge genomic approaches is desirable.  For more information, please contact Susan Mackem ( directly.

Recent lab publications:

Zhu et al. (2022) Sonic hedgehog is not a limb morphogen but acts as a trigger to specify all digits in mice. Dev Cell 57: 2048-62.

Trofka et al. (2021) Genetic basis for an evolutionary shift from ancestral preaxial to postaxial limb polarity in non-urodele vertebrates. Current Biology 31: 4923-34.

Huang et al. (2016) An interdigit signalling centre instructs coordinate phalanx-joint formation governed by 5'Hoxd-Gli3 antagonism. Nature Commun. 7:12903.

Huang et al. (2022) Rethinking positional information and digit identity: The role of late interdigit signaling. Dev. Dynamics 251:1414–1422 (invited perspective).

Zhu et al. (2017) John Saunders' ZPA, Sonic hedgehog and digit identity - How does it really all work?  Dev. Biology 429:391-400 (invited perspective).

Qualifications and Job Details

Degree Required
Ph.D. or equivalent
Job Location
Appointment Type
Training Position (Starting stipend: $65,100, bonuses may apply)
Work Schedule
Full-time (In-Person)
US Citizenship not required - (ie, permanent resident, visa)

Required and Preferred Skills

Required Skills

Applicants should have a strong background in developmental and/or evo-devo biology, preferably with vertebrate models, and experience in standard embryo analyses such as in situ hybridization, and fluorescence imaging.

Preferred Skills

Prior experience with cutting-edge genomic approaches and bio-informatic analysis is desirable. 

About the NCI Center for Cancer Research

The Center for Cancer Research (CCR) is home to nearly 250 basic and clinical research groups located on two campuses just outside of Washington, D.C. CCR is part of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and makes up the largest component of the research effort at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Centrally supported by long-term funding and a culture of complete intellectual freedom, CCR scientists are able to pursue the most important and challenging problems in cancer research. We collaborate with academic and commercial partners and advocacy groups across the world in efforts to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer and HIV/AIDS. The CCR research portfolio covers the full spectrum of biological and biomedical research. Our work ranges from basic to translational and clinical, and our clinical trials are conducted in the NIH Clinical Center, the world’s largest hospital dedicated to clinical research that offers a robust infrastructure to support CCR’s patients on an estimated 250 open studies. The success of CCR is grounded in an exceptionally strong discovery research program that provides the foundation for the seamless translation of insights from bench to bedside. Read more about CCR, the benefits of working at CCR and hear from our staff on their CCR experiences.


Frederick is the second largest city in Maryland but retains a “small town” feel, surrounded by mountain views with a vibrant Main Street community. The city offers outstanding schools, a balanced and thriving economy and a highly educated workforce.

How to Apply
  • CV/Resume
  • 3 References
  • Cover Letter
  • Summary of Research Experience
Contact Information
Contact Name
Susan Mackem
E-mail Address
DHHS, NIH and NCI are equal opportunity employers. The NCI and CCR are deeply committed to diversity of thought, equity and inclusion and encourage applications from qualified women, underrepresented minorities and individuals with disabilities.