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Postdoctoral Fellow in Diet and Cancer Cell Metabolism Lien Lab

Van Andel Institute, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Position Description:

A postdoctoral position is available in the laboratory of Dr. Evan Lien ( in the Department of Metabolism and Nutritional Programming at the Van Andel Institute (VAI). By using cancer models together with mass spectrometry, molecular biology, and genetic approaches, the Lien Lab assesses how diet-mediated changes to nutrient availability in the tumor microenvironment affect tumor metabolism, progression, and responses to therapy. These efforts aim to uncover how variations in a person’s diet may influence tumor growth and metabolism with the goal of translating these findings into actionable strategies for improving cancer treatment and response.

As a postdoctoral researcher in the lab, you will explore how metabolic pathways are regulated in response to diet-induced changes to nutrient levels in the tumor microenvironment, with a focus on lipid metabolism pathways in pancreatic cancer. You will use a combination of mouse and cell culture models to decipher how dietary factors alter interactions between cancer cells and their environment, and how these interactions drive the effects of diet on tumor progression and therapy response. Dr. Lien is open to discussions on your preferred funded project in the lab, and you will be given the opportunity to develop an independent line of research if desired.

Why choose the Lien Lab?

  • Training will be provided in both traditional and state-of-the-art technologies.
  • VAI has an outstanding mass spectrometry core facility with cutting-edge instrumentation, and you will have the opportunity to develop highly sought-after skills in metabolomics and lipidomics analyses.
  • Opportunity to lead your own research project, with full support and mentorship from Dr. Lien to guide you toward successfully reaching your career goals.
  • Join an intimate and devoted team allowing daily interaction within the lab alongside Dr. Lien.
  • Gain experience in a highly interdisciplinary environment that allows close interaction across the growing labs and Cores at VAI.
  • The Lien Lab is within the Department of Metabolism and Nutritional Programming, which includes a group of highly collaborative scientists revealing groundbreaking insights into how metabolism contributes to physiology and disease.
  • Projects are fully funded through an R00 NIH grant with additional dedicated internal funding through VAI.
  • Lien is part of the T32 program at VAI. Eligible candidates interested in this program are encouraged to apply.

Why join Van Andel Institute as a Postdoctoral Fellow?

  • Postdoctoral Fellows are full-time employees and receive a competitive annual salary beginning at $70,000.

Learn more about VAI's dedication to investing in postdoctoral trainees and the recently announced salary increase here. Increased starting salaries are based on additional qualifications and Doctorate/MD receipt date. Postdoctoral fellows are a crucial part of Van Andel Institute’s efforts to improve the health and enhance the lives of current and future generations. 

Along with the competitive salary, our Postdoctoral Fellows are eligible for VAI benefits, including:

  • Medical, dental and vision coverage
  • Employer-sponsored life and AD&D insurance
  • Additional voluntary life and AD&D insurance for employees and dependents
  • Short-term and long-term disability insurance
  • Flexible-spending accounts for health and child/elder care
  • 401 K retirement savings plans with employee/employer contributions
  • Paid vacation, holidays, personal days
  • Relocation Assistance

VAI recognizes that selecting where to complete a postdoctoral fellowship is a significant decision for postdoctoral fellows. VAI has a dedicated Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, which provides a comprehensive professional development program.

The Institute is located in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. A remarkable combination of a cosmopolitan atmosphere and small-town warmth, Grand Rapids is known for its philanthropic and sustainability-driven community. It’s fun affordable and family-friendly.

Located on the banks of the Grand River, Grand Rapids offers all the big-city excitement you'd expect from a million-resident metropolis, featuring hundreds of restaurants and nightspots, theatres, museums, sports and concerts. The safe and clean downtown is surrounded by an eclectic mix of walk-able neighborhoods and natural areas. 

With a medical and life sciences industry boom, strong entrepreneurial activity, dedication to green building and living, and innovative employers, Grand Rapids' diverse economy continues to grow, offering endless career opportunities.


  • A Ph.D. graduate in Biochemistry, Molecular Biology, Cell Biology, Cancer Biology, or any closely related field in the biomedical sciences.
  • Experience in some of the following skills: mammalian tissue culture, animal work, molecular biology techniques, mass spectrometry-based metabolomics and lipidomics.
  • Ability to independently design and carry out complex research projects and present the outcome in verbal and written scientific presentations.
  • A track record of first author publication(s).

Description of a Successful Candidate:

  • Collaborative team player who proactively shares knowledge and expertise with lab members and has an interest in providing mentorship to junior members of the lab.
  • A self-motivated individual who thinks critically to effectively design experiments and solve complex research problems.
  • A strong ability to take initiative, work independently, pursue interesting new research directions, and take scientific risks.
  • A desire to apply your current scientific expertise towards developing new approaches and growing your skillset to ask impactful questions in cancer metabolism.
  • Excellent verbal and written scientific communication skills.
    Dedication to help build a collegial, diverse, and inclusive lab environment in which every lab member is unhampered in achieving their career goals.
  • This list will change as projects evolve, and you should be open-minded to learning new things.

To Apply:

If you possess these attributes and enjoy working with motivated and committed people, we would welcome speaking with you and encourage you to apply today.

We ask you to submit:

  • A cover letter describing your research interests, experience, and how you might contribute to Lien Lab Research.
  • An up-to-date Curriculum Vitae.
  • A list of 2-3 individuals who have agreed to act as references along with their contact details (email and phone number).
  • Please contact Megan Doerr ( for further information or questions, or if you have any difficulty with the application process.

At Van Andel Institute, the health and safety of our people is our number one priority. As a condition of employment at Van Andel Institute, all employees are required to be fully vaccinated for COVID-19. “Full vaccination” is defined as two weeks after both doses of a two-dose vaccine or two weeks since a single-dose vaccine has been administered. 

VAI is committed to achieving excellence through increasing diversity. We actively encourage applications from women, persons of color, persons with disabilities, and other underrepresented groups. 

Van Andel Institute is an Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO) and Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Assistance Act (VEVRAA) Employer. 

As Van Andel Institute is a drug and alcohol-free employer, all prospective new employees undergo a urinalysis/drug test as part of our pre-employment process. This is a 7-panel drug screen and it includes testing for Marijuana, Cocaine, Amphetamines, Opiates, PCP, Barbiturates, and Benzodiazepines.