Head of Medicinal Chemistry

Tenured position at Reader/ Professorial Level

Closing date: 20th April 2023

We are seeking an experienced medicinal chemist and drug discoverer to be Head of Medicinal 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 emphasis on infectious diseases affecting Low and Middle Income Countries and innovative drug 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 (DDU) in the School of Life Sciences (www.drugdiscovery.dundee.ac.uk ) 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. Our activities cover the entire early drug discovery pipeline, from target validation to pre-clinical candidate selection. Together with our Pharma and Product Development Partners, the DDU has delivered 5 compounds  into the clinic, contributed  to  6 spin-outs, and has  a rich portfolio of programs at the lead-optimisation and hit-to-lead stages.

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. Take a virtual tour.

The DDU has an international reputation for its work on neglected infectious diseases and is a key component of the Wellcome Centre for Anti-lnfectives Research at Dundee (about 70% of our activities). Our Innovative Targets Portfolio focuses on novel targets in cancer, inflammation and neurodegeneration, leading to licencing deals and spin-outs (about 30% of our activity). The DDU has leading scientists and key therapeutic expertise in a range of diseases.


What this post offers to you

This post offers the successful applicant a very significant leadership role in a unique and internationally recognised 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.


Role and Responsibilities

The DDU has 45 chemists working in multi-disciplinary teams across the five DDU portfolios. Your role will be to ensure they have the passion, skills, equipment and methods to deliver the portfolio objectives and ultimately preclinical candidates. You will work closely with the heads of other disciplines and the portfolio leaders to ensure integration across the disciplines to maximise successful delivery of projects and to overcome challenges encountered. You will not be afraid to critically appraise current processes and change the status quo to ensure the DDU remains a global leader in drug discovery.

  • Provide input into DDU long-term strategy.
  • Set strategic direction for medicinal chemistry at the DDU.
  • Develop innovative medicinal chemistry strategies to improve success-rates in early-stage drug development.
  • Drive efficiencies in the chemistry team to meet objectives.
  • Engage with external experts to ensure that chemistry at the DDU is maintained at the cutting edge.
  • Contribute medicinal chemistry and drug discovery expertise to portfolios and individual projects.
  • Interacting with collaborator and funders, including working as part of consortia.
  • Contribute to writing of large drug discovery grant applications and obtain funding to develop new approaches in chemistry.
  • Writing of papers and presenting work externally.
  • Working with the University Research & Innovation Services to file patent applications.
  • Provide line support (development/ recommendations for promotions etc) for multiple medicinal chemistry team leaders, who are leading teams across disease areas.
  • Provide some input into teaching/ training at an advanced level

Required Attributes

  • A degree and PhD in organic/ medicinal chemistry with ideally at least 10 years’ experience in the pharmaceutical industry or professional drug discovery.
  • A substantial publication/ patent portfolio.
  • Track record 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 multiple partners.
  • An enthusiasm for introducing innovation into the drug discovery process.
  • Ability to develop and lead multidisciplinary teams of scientists.
  • Excellent communication skills 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.
  •  A team player.
  • A self-starter, who can take the initiative.

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

For more information, please contact Prof Ian Gilbert (i.h.qilbert@dundee.ac.uk ) Applications for this post should be made through the University of Dundee jobs portal.

The diversity of our staff and students helps to make the University of Dundee one of the top universities in the UK. Family friendly policies, staff support networks for BME and LGBT staff, membership of Athena Swan and Stonewall, as well a full range of disability services, create an enjoyable and inclusive place to work.