Research Associate/ Senior Research Associate – Analytical Development


Founded at the birthplace of biotechnology, Nkarta’s mission is to discover, develop and deliver novel off-the-shelf (e.g. allogeneic) natural killer (NK) cell therapies that profoundly impact patients’ response, quality of life, and overall survival. The company is based on the proprietary, robust and well-characterized NK cell expansion technology pioneered by Dr. Dario Campana. Nkarta is focused on leveraging the natural potent power of NK cells to identify and kill abnormal cells and recruit adaptive immune effectors to generate responses that are specific and durable. 

Nkarta combines its NK cell expansion and cryopreservation platform with proprietary cell engineering technologies to generate an abundant supply of NK cells, engineer enhanced NK cell recognition of tumor targets, and improve persistence for sustained activity in the body for the treatment of cancer. Founded in 2015, our privately held company includes investors from nine investment firms from North America and Europe.

Position Title        Research Associate / Senior Research Associate             

Location                  South San Francisco, CA

Reports to               Staff Scientist, Analytical Development



Position Summary

This role is part of Analytical Development team involved in cellular immunotherapy products from Nkarta’s deep pipeline. The lead cell therapy candidate is in the pre-IND stage and is on track for clinical studies in early 2020 in multiple solid tumor and hematologic malignancy indications.

The Research Associate/ Senior Research Associate works closely with Process Development, Research and Quality groups towards in-depth characterization of the drug product. The primary goal is to design and develop assays to characterize the drug product. The design and development of release assays are also critical part of the assay development responsibilities.

Key Responsibilities

Collaborates / leads analytical method development to enable the characterization, release and stability monitoring of our cell therapy drug product.

Develops, improves and validates flow cytometry assays.

Participates and/or performs method development activities for cellular cytotoxicity, ELISA, qPCR and other analytical assays for use in phase-appropriate product manufacturing.

Adopts and develops next-generation analytical platforms for better characterization and extend our understanding of our final drug product.

Participates, performs and/or leads analytical method technical transfer to Quality Control (QC), Contract Testing Laboratories (CTL) and Contract Manufacturing Organizations (CMO).

Creates, compiles and reviews technical and regulatory documents including but not limited to analytical study data summaries and reports, analytical method development reports, method qualification/validation protocols and reports, standard operating procedures in compliance with regulatory requirements.


Position Requirements

Experience in designing and executing multicolor Flow cytometry experiments as well as analyzing flow cytometry data using FlowJo or other similar platforms is required.

NK or T cell expertise preferred.

At least two years relevant experience in biopharmaceutical or biotechnology industry is a plus.

1+ year’s industry analytical development experience is preferred.

Experience in gene/ cell therapy, primary cell culture, ligand-based assays, cell-based assays, immunoassays and/or qPCR assays in regulated environments is a plus.

Ability to work independently, multitask and meet deadlines in a fast-paced environment.

Highly motivated, organized and disciplined record keeping; strong attention to detail.

Excellent verbal and written communication skills

Willingness to travel on occasion.

Embodies the Nkarta culture of empowerment, diversity, and inclusion.



Bachelors degree in Immunology, Cell Biology, or related field is required; Masters is preferred.


Work Environment / Physical Demands

This position requires the ability to occasionally lift and/or move up to 25 pounds. Specific vision abilities for this job include close vision, depth perception and ability to adjust focus and the ability to work in and around common laboratory equipment. The regular requirements of an office environment (computers, computer screens, workstations, etc.) apply when not working in or around a laboratory environment. 


Working at Nkarta

The 50+ team members at our South San Francisco, California primary location describe working at Nkarta, along with opportunities for improvement, in some of the following ways: 


“Work is interesting – lots of projects in the pipeline (so I don’t have to worry about the one project failing). Leadership is open, straight forward.”

“Smart, capable, nice people. People I work with day to day are enjoyable.”


“I like that the company is open minded with a (people) –(looking for) a set of skills that can grow (as opposed to thinking you have to have exactly what’s in a job spec now) Things that broaden their (employees) skills and growth.”

“Like any startup there are fires to put out; feel confident we have the people to control those fires.”

“Diverse people from different backgrounds.” 


To learn more about our work at Nkarta and the career opportunities that will drive us forward to serve patients, please visit the company’s website at