Scientist I/II, Cell Therapy Development

Job Locations US-CA-South San Francisco
Research & Development
Position Type
Regular Full-Time

About Us

Nkarta Therapeutics is a publicly traded (Nkarta NKTX symbol), South San Francisco headquartered, early-stage biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery, development and commercialization of allogeneic, off-the-shelf engineered natural killer, or NK, cell therapies to treat cancer.


Founded in 2015 at the birthplace of biotechnology, our development pipeline of engineered NK cell therapy candidates includes two co-lead clinical programs, NKX101 and NKX019. Clinical trials for 101 are in process; 019 will begin in H2 2021. Nkarta recently announced a collaboration with CRISPR Therapeutics, a world leader in gene-based medicines, for the development and commercialization of up to three new cell therapy candidates and access to clinically validated CRISPR/Cas9 genome engineering.


Complementing our broad research and development capabilities, Nkarta has also built an extensive cell therapy manufacturing operation.  We have a 2,700-square foot clinical good manufacturing practice, or cGMP, facility on-site at our primary corporate location in South San Francisco, California. We plan to start in-house manufacturing of NKX019 in 2021 and NKX101 in 2022. We are also currently designing a separate, larger cGMP facility, to supply our anticipated pivotal clinical trial and commercial need.


In April 2022, Nkarta announced Phase I data demonstrating that our co-lead programs, NKX101 and NKX019, are well tolerated and highly active in heavily pre-treated patients with hematologic malignancies. The Nkarta Cell Therapy Development team strives to continue the successful development and advancement of additional novel CAR cell therapy pipeline programs to address not only hematologic malignancies, but also bring next generation cell therapies developed with our best-in-class platform to successfully treat patients with solid tumor malignancies. We are currently offering a unique opportunity for a highly driven, curious, and focused researcher to join our team to develop and assess novel strategies to further enhance immune cell functions through cell engineering. The successful candidate is a self-starter, is enthusiastic about cell therapy, and most importantly, wants to make a profound impact on cancer patients.


  • Candidate is expected to apply relevant immunology and cell therapy knowledge to identify and evaluate cellular modifications to enhance CAR cell therapy candidates using innovative and cutting edge approaches. This may include designing and executing CRISPR based screens and assessing novel chimeric proteins.
  • Evaluate non-viral and viral gene delivery methods to achieve greater genetic payload delivery and provide sustained expression of proteins in CAR cell products.
  • Characterization of engineered CAR cell products through application of both existing methods, including measurements of cellular cytotoxicity, cytokine production, phenotype, persistence, and metabolic state, and implementation of novel approaches to assess CAR cell functionality.
  • Keep up-to-date with relevant scientific literature and conferences to bring to the table new ideas and approaches for innovation on next generation CAR cell engineering.
  • Work independently and collaborate cross-functionally with colleagues performing Discovery, Pre-Clinical Research, Process and Analytical Development, to plan, execute, troubleshoot, and analyze experimental designs.
  • Be an active contributor to decision making and mentoring junior team members.
  • Write SOPs and reports to support IND filings and maintain detailed and organized lab notebooks.


  • A Ph.D. in Immunology, Cancer biology, Molecular and Cellular Biology, Gene therapy or related field with 1 or more years of experience in a related academic or industrial setting.
  • Candidates with hands-on experience with gene editing technologies, for both knock-out (gRNA design, RNP formulation, Indel analysis, etc.) and knock-in (expertise in repair template design) applications using viral and non-viral delivery mechanisms in human cell lines and primary cells are highly preferred.
  • In-depth experience with CRISPR gRNA library screening would be a plus
  • Thorough understanding of the CAR cell therapy landscape, with working experience in developing and executing in vitro cellular characterization assays including immune cell phenotyping, cytotoxicity (FACS & image based), proliferation, migration, 3D cultures, and cytokine analysis
  • Strong organizational and record keeping skills are required
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently and cross-functionally with strong verbal and written communication skills
  • Embraces working on challenging and complex projects in a fast-paced and dynamic environment with other enthusiastic team members
  • Embodies the company culture of empowerment, diversity, and inclusion


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 Inc.

The 130+ team members describe working at Nkarta through some of the following comments. While getting better work-life balance and improving communications between groups in an early stage start up environment are two areas in which we’re working, here are real anonymous comments of why people think Nkarta is a great place to work.


  • People are always open to ideas. This company provides a safe place for its employees (covid testing, etc.)”
  • Exceptionally talented, committed, *kind* & supportive team”
  • The CEO is transparent and honest with expectations for the whole company. There is genuine care amongst the leadership team for their peers and employees. I believe this is unique.”
  • Not to sound corny, but the emphasis on people as a valuable resource is something I  recognize doesn't often exist elsewhere, and it's here in ample supply, which is great.”
  • It's the first place that I've worked where the executive team truly values the employees. It's a pretty amazing thing not to hear that employees can be replaced with someone new. Institutional knowledge is understood.”
  • We have a very diverse team with executives that are friendly and accessible.”
  • Smart and dedicated colleagues. Mission to make a difference in patients lives. Empower us with tools needed to succeed.  Open and transparent culture. Transparent leadership. Handling of covid and running the company was done very well.”

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


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