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Staff Scientist 1 (Section on Affective Neuroscience and Pain)

Application Deadline: April 4, 2024

Program Overview

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) invites applications for a staff scientist focused on neuroimaging methods and analysis, with a particular focus on functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). The successful candidate will work with the Section on Affective Neuroscience and Pain (SANP; Principal Investigator Lauren Atlas, Ph.D.) as part of a growing research program focused on identifying brain mechanisms underlying psychological modulation of pain and emotion in health and disease. SANP is part of NCCIH’s Division of Intramural Research and affiliated with the Intramural Research Programs of the National Institute on Mental Health (NIMH) and National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). 

Learn more about the NIH Intramural Training Program

The successful candidate will work closely with the Principal Investigator and fellows to advance SANP’s research program through data acquisition, data analysis and curation, and mentorship of trainees. Ongoing projects examine relationships between pain and emotion, how expectations shape learning and pain, and how social factors shape clinical outcomes. Projects are multimodal, integrating fMRI, psychophysiology, and pharmacological methodologies. In addition to supporting lab members and ongoing studies, the staff scientist can develop and lead independent projects in collaboration with the Principal Investigator. Upcoming projects will incorporate high field imaging (7T-fMRI), simultaneous positron emission tomography (PET)-MRI, and/or magnetoencephalography (MEG). SANP is fully funded, with dedicated weekly scan time on 3T and 7T scanners and multiple options for high-performance computing. 

The NCCIH intramural research program is located on the Bethesda campus of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) within one of the most active neuroscience communities in the world ( The position offers the opportunity to work alongside some of the world’s foremost fMRI and statistics experts and to take part in regular campus-wide seminars and workshops, including regular meetings on machine learning, fMRI methods, and pain neuroscience. The NIH Clinical Center offers exceptional multidisciplinary research facilities, including structural and functional MRI, MEG, PET, and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). 

Position Duties

Specific responsibilities for the staff scientist include:

  • Lead independent projects and work as a team member within the section and in the context of SANP collaborations.
  • Interact with SANP members and the NIH neuroimaging user community on the development and implementation of cutting-edge fMRI methodology.
  • Perform statistical analyses of behavioral and neuroimaging data, incorporating diverse techniques such as machine learning, functional connectivity, and graph theoretical approaches.
  • Prepare results for manuscript submission, grant proposals, and other lab-related documents.
  • Mentor junior members and assist with training of SANP group members in both standard and novel analytic approaches, including technical support for coding, statistics, and neuroimaging analysis.
  • Develop data curation and analysis pipelines by writing and reviewing software code, creating standard operating procedures (SOPs), and organizing existing data.
  • Manage the section’s protocols and ensure compliance with safety regulations.
  • Be the point of contact for shipping and assist with general lab function, including assisting in the decision making for purchases, overseeing hardware/software upgrades, and evaluating existing resources.

Required Qualifications 

The position requires a doctoral degree (Ph.D.) in a discipline relevant to fMRI (e.g., neuroscience, psychology, statistics, biomedical engineering, computer science) and at least 4 years of post-doctoral technical or research experience related to human functional neuroimaging. The candidate should have a record of expertise in fMRI methods, applications, and analysis, as well as experimental design. The candidate must possess expertise in: (1) analysis of fMRI data using statistical parametric mapping packages (e.g., SPM, AFNI), (2) statistics and quantitative approaches (e.g., machine learning, computational modeling), and (3) computer programming (e.g., Python, R, Matlab, C). 

Due to the critical interactive nature of this position, excellent teamwork and communication skills are required, and evidence of success in training others (e.g., through mentorship, workshops, teaching) is desired. Highly competitive candidates will also possess expertise with cluster computing and Linux servers.

Salary and Benefits

Salary will be commensurate with the Staff Scientist I level, depending on experience and accomplishments. A full civil service package of benefits (e.g., retirement; health, life, and long-term care insurance; Thrift Savings Plan) is available. The appointment would be through the Title 42 mechanism (see

How To Apply 

Interested candidates should submit a letter of interest including a brief description of their research and experience related to the position; a separate statement describing the mentoring and outreach activities in which they have been involved, especially those involving women and persons from racial/ethnic or other groups that are underrepresented in biomedical research; a curriculum vitae (CV) and bibliography; and two letters of recommendation from references familiar with their expertise and research experience. 

Send application packages to Ms. Christina Moon at Please include in the subject line: “NCCIH—SANP Staff Scientist 1 Application [insert your name].” Questions should be directed to Ms. Christina Moon at the same email address.

Applications will be accepted beginning February 5, 2024, and they must be received by 11:59 p.m. ET on April 4, 2024, for consideration in the review period. Review of applications will begin on or about April 4, 2024. Should no suitable candidates be selected during this period, the position will remain open until filled. This position is subject to a background check.


NIH and NCCIH are committed to building a diverse workforce and promoting an inclusive environment. The Department of Health and Human Services and NIH are Equal Opportunity Employers.


Section on Affective Neuroscience and Pain
Division of Intramural Research
National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health
National Institutes of Health 
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services