We aim to foster a diverse and exciting research atmosphere in the Irish lab by recruiting a mix of graduate students, postdocs, physician scientists, undergraduates and staff working on integrative, interdisciplinary projects. If you have an idea for a great experiment or project, we can’t wait to hear.

Anyone who would like to join the lab should e-mail Dr. Jonathan Irish with a short (no more than 1/2 page) description of your scientific interests, background, and general scientific goals.  Please include a recently updated resume or CV and make sure to note any lab experience or co-authored publications.

Project Opportunities

The lab has a wide range of project opportunities, including clinical / translational research, tumor immunology, cell biology, and computational biology projects.

  1. Signaling control of cell identity (especially neural cells &/or immune cells)
  2. Neuroimmunology of the brain’s lateral ventricle stem cell niche (V-SVZ)
  3. Targeting microglia and macrophages in brain tumors
  4. Characterizing novel abnormal T cells found across human tumor types
  5. Systems biology of human genetics and immune cell signaling in human disease
  6. Screening to discover molecules that reprogram human cell identity
  7. Creating machine learning tools for quantifying cell identity
  8. Developing single cell assays for signaling & cell function

To get a sense of what these topics mean to us, check out our recent publications on Google Scholar & Pubmed.  If any of these publications strike you as similar to the type of work you would like to do, please mention this when you reach out.


In the lab you will hone writing, figure design, presentation, bench, and data analysis skills. You’ll also be expected to author papers, and seek fellowships, and you’ll have opportunities to participate in grant writing, manuscript review, and mentoring.

Regular meetings include a weekly lab meeting (one person presents their story), journal club, and 1-on-1’s with the PI. Lab members will also attend weekly seminar series associated with their Graduate Program and potentially a training grant or fellowship.

Students will be encouraged to attend external scientific meetings when they “have a story to tell” and will derive some project or career benefit from the meeting.  This means submitting an abstract and having a fairly mature story that will soon be ready for publication.  Students are expected to apply to meetings early enough to be eligible for travel and merit scholarships from the meeting, to seek institutional funds to support their travel, to present an abstract on their work (poster or talk), to explain formally how attending the meeting is beneficial to their project and career goals, and to report to the group on the meeting after they return.  After a student has their work in the press or published, they may be encouraged to accept invited speaking opportunities where they will travel to present their work or be part of teaching courses on their work.

Undergraduates, rotation students, beginning graduate students, and students in medical school will receive significant project guidance and mentoring. Senior graduate students, physician scientists, and postdocs will be expected to become more self-directed. For all students, Dr. Irish will work with you to develop scientific and career skills, and help place you in your next position when you finish in the lab.


We are actively recruiting undergraduates, especially those with a background in computer science and an interest in neuroscience, cancer biology, and/or immunology. As a systems biology lab, nearly half of our research focuses on “dry lab” data analysis and computational biology. Therefore, undergraduate projects in the Irish lab nearly always start emphasizing data analysis. We have found that this is a great way to learn about the details of a system, contribute quickly to an ongoing project, and potentially become a co-author on a manuscript. Don’t worry if you don’t know the specific data analysis approaches—we will provide all the software and training you need. 

Most undergraduates in the lab will start on the neuroscience (NURO) or bioscience (BSCI) research tracks.  If you’re a biologist getting started, please check out NURO 3860 Introduction to Research Guidelines in Neuroscience or BSCI 3861 Directed Laboratory Research.  Each is followed by opportunities for independent research and an Honors thesis.

Applying Graduate Students

If you are interviewing for graduate school at Vanderbilt, please note this when you contact Dr. Irish. The Irish lab can only recruit graduate students who have been admitted as part of Vanderbilt’s graduate programs (see Interdisciplinary Graduate Program, Vanderbilt International Scholars Program, Quantitative and Chemical Biology, Biosciences, and MSTP).  If you are invited to interview as part of one of these programs and are interested in the lab, please let the program know that you would like Dr. Irish to be added to your interview schedule.