Justin Layer, PhD

Staff Scientist

Joined the IBRI in February 2023

Justin Layer

Justin Layer is a molecular biologist and protein chemist with more than 20 years of bench-level experience. Examples of his previous research areas and expertise include genetic and biochemical reconstitution of multi-subunit transcription factor complexes for structural and functional characterization, generation of novel mammalian expression vector systems, phage display for recombinant antibody isolation, and antibody engineering using synthetic biology approaches.

His role as staff scientist in the Molecular Innovation group at the Indiana Biosciences Research Institute (IBRI) relies upon and expands his previous experience with protein expression and purification, phage display and antibody engineering.

Layer is originally from southwest Indiana and received his bachelor’s degree from Indiana University, where he participated in undergraduate research studying gene regulation with David Miller in Dr. Thom Kaufman’s lab.

He then pursued graduate studies at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he earned a doctorate in molecular physiology and biophysics by training with Dr. P. Anthony Weil. While at Vanderbilt and under the guidance of Dr. Raymond L. Mernaugh, he also received training in phage display for recombinant antibody isolation and characterization.

Layer attended the prestigious Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory course in phage display and antibody engineering in late 2021.

Just prior to joining the IBRI, he was an assistant research professor at the IU School of Medicine in the hematology and oncology division, working closely with Drs. Utpal P. Dave and Yuichiro Takagi.

When not in the lab, Layer enjoys spending time with his wife, travelling abroad, reading, listening to music, and restoring, operating, and repairing vintage motorcycles.

Areas of Expertise

  • Antibody engineering
  • Phage display
  • Protein expression and purification


  • Doctor of Philosophy (Molecular Physiology and Biophysics), Vanderbilt University, 2010
  • Bachelor of Science (Biology), Indiana University, 2002