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Postdoctoral Researcher Positions: Section on Affective Neuroscience and Pain, Division of Intramural Research


Dr. Lauren Atlas’s laboratory is recruiting up to two postdoctoral researchers with expertise in functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and affective science to join the Section on Affective Neuroscience and Pain (ANP) to lead new projects on the psychological modulation of pain and emotional experience. Dr. Atlas’s lab is part of the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health’s (NCCIH) intramural research program and is affiliated with the intramural research programs of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). Learn more about the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Intramural Training Program.

Research in the ANP lab focuses on the mechanisms by which expectations, learning, and other cognitive and affective factors influence pain, emotion, and clinical outcomes. The lab combines approaches from experimental psychology, neuroimaging, psychophysiology, and computational modeling to investigate pain and emotional experience in healthy individuals as well as individuals with chronic pain and/or affective disorders. The lab is particularly interested in the intersection of appetitive and aversive learning, how psychosocial factors influence pain and clinical outcomes, and questions motivated by pain’s central role in the opioid crisis. Postdoctoral researchers are expected to develop their own projects, with guidance, and to collaborate with other researchers in the lab as well as in the broader NIH community. The candidate will spearhead new projects using high field imaging (7T-FMRI) to examine pain and perception across domains and/or using simultaneous positron emission tomography–magnetic resonance imaging (PET-MRI) to study the role of dopamine and opioids in pain modulation. Clinical collaborations to look at the intersection between pain, mental health, and/or substance use disorders are also possible. 

The candidate will be supported with the excellent intramural NIH fellowship in a stimulating and interactive research environment at NIH. NIH has exceptional multidisciplinary research facilities including structural and functional MRI, magnetoencephalography (MEG), PET, and transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS). Our lab is fully funded with dedicated weekly scan time, a full-time data analyst, and the opportunity to work alongside some of the world’s foremost fMRI experts. Training in advanced imaging and other techniques is available, as are courses in grant writing and career development. Trainees can also apply to be fellows in the Center on Compulsive Behaviors, an NIH-wide fellowship program. This is an exciting and collaborative environment for those interested in pursuing a career in clinical or cognitive neuroscience.

The position is located in Bethesda, Maryland.

Required Qualifications

The candidate should have a strong background in psychology and neuroscience and must have received a Ph.D. in a relevant field by the time of appointment. Candidates with successful publications in the fields of pain, emotion, and/or computational modeling are encouraged to apply. Postdoctoral positions require experience with 1) design of behavioral and fMRI experiments, 2) analysis of fMRI data using statistical parametric mapping packages (SPM, AFNI, etc.), and 3) programming and analysis skills in MATLAB, R, and/or Python. These requirements will be flexible for candidates with clinical experience or experience in psychopharmacology, as we are currently planning clinical collaborations. 

Salary and Benefits

Appointments and salary are commensurate with research experience and accomplishments (

How To Apply

Applicants should submit a CV, a brief description of research interests and career goals, and the names of three references to Dr. Lauren Atlas (Investigator/Chief, Section on Affective Neuroscience and Pain, NCCIH/NIMH/NIDA, NIH). Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

Applications will be accepted until the position is filled.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and NIH are equal opportunity employers committed to equity, diversity, and inclusion.