Head of Chemistry, Drug Discovery Unit

Tenured position at Reader/ Professorial Level

Reference: UOD123

Closing date: 14th February 2023

We are seeking an experienced medicinal chemist and drug discoverer to be Head of Chemistry in the Drug Discovery Unit (DDU) at the University of Dundee. This is an exciting position to develop new small molecule medicines to treat a range of indications, with particular emphases on: infectious diseases affecting Low and Middle Income Countries; and innovative targets in a range of human diseases.

This is a substantive leadership post in a highly collaborative environment.  The successful applicant will be part of the DDU Executive Team, which steers and leads the organisation.

Established for 16 years, The Drug Discovery Unit in the School of Life Sciences is a unique, university-based, fully integrated, Biotech-style drug discovery operation with an annual turnover of ~£12M and 130 dedicated scientists, many with a Biotech/Pharma background.

The unit has purpose-built laboratories and state-of-the-art equipment for drug discovery and expertise in assay design, high-throughput and high-content screening, molecular pharmacology, medicinal, computational and analytical chemistry, DMPK and efficacy models.  We develop molecules up to and including pre-clinical drug candidates.

Together with our Pharma and Product Development Partners, the DDU has delivered 4 compounds into the clinic, contributed to 7 spin-outs, and has a rich portfolio of programs at the lead-optimisation and hit-to-lead stages.

The DDU has an international reputation for its work on neglected infectious diseases and is a key component of the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research at Dundee (about 70% of our activity).

Our Innovative Targets Portfolio addresses novel targets in cancer, inflammation and neurodegeneration, leading to licencing deals and spin-out (about 30% of our activity). The DDU has leading scientists, state-of-the-art technologies, purpose-built laboratories, and key therapeutic expertise in a range of diseases.

What this post offers

This post offers the successful applicant an opportunity to have a very significant leadership role in a unique discovery team, with opportunities to guide delivery of drug candidates across a variety of disease areas and to introduce innovation into the drug discovery process. In particular, it provides an opportunity to deliver drug candidates for major global diseases.

The post is available immediately and will report to the Head of the DDU. The salary is dependent on experience.


Required Attributes
  • A degree and PhD in organic/ medicinal chemistry and a substantial publication/ patent portfolio.
  • Experience in leading drug discovery programmes from hit discovery through lead optimisation to candidate selection.
  •  Experience in structurally enabled drug discovery programmes.
  •  Experience in developing collaborative projects with external partners.
  • An enthusiasm for introducing innovation into the drug discovery process.
  • Ability to develop and lead multidisciplinary teams of scientists.
  • Ability to present projects internally and externally.
  •  Initiative and willingness to work flexibly to meet milestones and deadlines.
  •  Excellent decision making, interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Experience and/or willingness to write funding applications.
Roles and Responsibilities
  • Providing input into DDU long-term strategy
  • Providing strategic direction into the future direction of chemistry at the DDU
  • Inputting expertise into portfolios and individual projects
  • Helping in the writing of large grant applications
  • Providing line support (development/ recommendations for promotions etc) for a team of medicinal chemists
  • Engaging with external experts to ensure that chemistry at the DDU is maintained at the cutting edge
  • Providing some input into teaching / training at an advanced level

Commitment to DORA and ED&I

The School of Life Sciences has been fully committed to the principals of the San Francisco Declaration on Research Assessment (DORA) since 2013. In assessing applicants, we consider the scientific quality of their published research papers, but do not take into account where the papers were published and do not consider journal-based metrics, such as Journal Impact Factors

The University of Dundee embraces diversity. We have family-friendly policies, staff support networks for BME, disabled and LGBT+ staff, membership of Athena SWAN, the ECU Race Equality Charter and Stonewall, as well a full range of disability services to create an enjoyable and inclusive place to work. The School of Life Sciences is proud to employ staff from over 40 different nations and received the Athena Swan Silver Award in 2018 which recognises the promotion of gender equality and has made further commitment to advancing inclusive culture, which supports and encourages all under-represented groups. As an internationally diverse institution, we welcome job applicants from all countries and nationalities.

Read more about why Dundee is an amazing place to live and work.