Senior Automation Engineer

Concerto Biosciences

At Concerto Biosciences, we are obsessed with microbes. We dream of a healthier world where microbial ecology enables advanced medicines and environmentally-conscious agricultural practices. To unlock microbial ecology, Concerto uses a novel screening technology from MIT to construct and observe millions of microbial cocultures in parallel—each its own tiny universe of possibilities. Our technology generates a totally new type of microbiome data that allows us to identify groups of microbes that perform beneficial functions. We call these groups “ensembles”. We are currently in the preclinical stage for our first product, an ensemble to treat eczema—a chronic, irritating, and psychologically stressful skin disease that affects over two hundred million people. Our goal is to discover the first-ever treatment that provides totally safe, sustained relief for eczema patients. Concerto will go on to develop a multitude of ensembles that solve the world’s greatest challenges in human health, food production, and bioremediation.

The Concerto team is our most important ensemble. We believe the best human ensembles, much like microbial ensembles, are diverse—composed of individuals with different backgrounds, cultures, genders, and beliefs. We are committed to building a company where you belong and where your voice is heard.

Role Description

As the first automation engineer at Concerto, you will lead and manage the implementation of an integrated, automated laboratory workflow. The outcome will be greater efficiency in throughput via an increase in speed and decrease in human labor. You will work with Concerto’s co-founders, lab scientists, data scientists, and consultants to formulate a high-level automation plan that achieves milestones in efficiency improvement. Your implementation of this plan will require (a) onboarding commercially available equipment (e.g. robotic arms, liquid handlers, etc.) and (b) working with machine shops and/or CROs to design and build custom hardware. You will oversee use of automation equipment and iterate on designs and protocols as necessary. As an early member of Concerto’s expanding team, you’ll also play a critical role in developing Concerto’s culture and translating our core values into practice.

Laboratory Workflow

Each broad step of our laboratory workflow, currently operated manually, has the potential to become automated:

  1. Biobank construction: We build banks of isolated microbial strains from samples, e.g. human skin swabs.
  2. Biobank liquid handling: We retrieve biobank plates (96-well format) from the freezer and perform various liquid handling operations to prepare for combinatorial screening.
  3. Microwell array loading (proprietary hardware): We load microwell chips with screening inputs. You can read about the technology’s predecessor, kChip (Kehe, et al. PNAS (2019)), and its application to a basic science problem (Kehe, et al. Sci. Adv. (2021)).
  4. Microscopy: We move microwell chips on and off a microscope stage to image them at various time points.

  • Help design a step-by-step, multi-year plan for an integrated, automated laboratory workflow (see above) that accounts for Concerto's immediate and long-term laboratory needs and associated efficiency gains (Note: Depending on your experience level, this may be done with the aid of consultants)
  • Implement this plan by: (a) Interacting closely with Concerto’s laboratory scientists (equipment operators) and data engineers/scientists (users of the workflow’s outputs) to define the system’s functional requirements; (b) Leveraging your professional network of machinists, designers, vendors, and CROs to aid in the design and/or onboarding of equipment; and (c) Overseeing and improving the onboarding and use of all equipment via well-written operation protocols, design iterations, QC and troubleshooting, and user feedback
  • Embody Concerto’s core values in your work

Required Qualifications
  • 3-5 years of experience as an automation engineer
  • A demonstrable skill set covering at least one of the following areas: Onboarding, using, and developing laboratory automation equipment; Designing sophisticated liquid handling and/or microscopy automation workflows
  • Some fluency with standard/existing automation equipment, e.g. stackers, robotic arms, and liquid handlers
  • Up-to-date with current machine shops, vendors, CROs, and designers by networking through SLAS, LRIG, etc.
  • An ability to view new conflicts/problems as “puzzles” and rapidly propose and implement solutions that take all the dimensions of the puzzle into account (logistics, priorities, resource constraints, etc.)
  • An ability to collate and synthesize input from teammates and integrate team feedback into designs
  • A motivated and self-driven attitude and an ability to work independently
  • An organized work style and ability to drive rigorous documentation standards

Preferred Qualifications
  • Bachelor’s or advanced degree in engineering, science, etc.
  • Familiarity with software that may aid the design, programming, operation, and/or maintenance of equipment
  • Familiarity with high-throughput screening paradigms, microbial samples, and fluorescence-based assays
  • Strong leadership skills, with the potential to supervise future automation employees

Relevant Links

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