Principal Scientist, Cellular Imaging and Model Development

South San Francisco, CA, US
January 09 2018
Organization Type
Requisition ID: RES002056

Merck Research Laboratories South San Francisco, a wholly owned subsidiary of Merck and Co., is focused on driving discovery research.  Our new multi-disciplinary discovery research site offers state-of- the-art resources to explore the most promising science combined with Merck’s world-class R&D expertise in small molecules and biologics. Located within the heart of the Bay area’s biomedical community, research conducted in our new laboratories spans exploratory biology through early clinical development and is an integral part of Merck’s powerful world-class network of drug and vaccine discovery.  Our ability to excel depends on the integrity, knowledge, imagination, skill, diversity and teamwork of an individual like you. To this end, we strive to create a fast-paced, nimble and flexible environment of mutual respect, creativity, invention and teamwork.  With access to Merck’s proven global R&D organization, you’ll have the opportunity to collaborate with talented and dedicated colleagues while developing and expanding your career. This is an outstanding opportunity for a highly experienced and innovative Principal Scientist with a strong background in high content imaging/phenotypic assay development and cellular pharmacology to join the In Vitro Sciences group within the Cardio-Metabolic Disease therapeutic area at Merck. The location will be Merck Research Laboratories at our new site in South San Francisco, CA. In this role, you will be expected to function as an effective “drug creator” and promote such thinking within the team and among your colleagues in other disciplines, to play a key role in driving target ID/validation through lead optimization and preclinical support, to have a broad impact in helping shape and advance our diverse drug discovery portfolio, and to promote Merck externally in the scientific and business communities.  The individual will lead by example in the laboratory through hands-on participation in designing and conducting experiments, creative thinking in solving complex scientific and technical challenges, and providing strategic input into the broad target portfolio. The individual will also be expected to drive innovation, champion new initiatives, and provide leadership to discovery programs. Successful candidates should possess strong experimental and technical capabilities, have excellent written and oral communication skills, and work productively in a collaborative cross-functional team environment. Key responsibilities include and are not limited to the following: 
  • Provide high content imaging/phenotypic assay and complex cell model development expertise to target biology and drug discovery in broad therapeutic areas
  • Develop target engagement, pharmacodynamics and mechanistic assays to characterize modulators of cellular targets and pathways, utilizing sophisticated imaging tools and other experimental methods
  • Drive internal efforts on building and validating complex in vitro microphysiological systems, such as 3D culture models (including organoids and organ-on-a-chip)
  • Promote scientific innovation, champion new enabling technologies, and provide leadership to discovery programs
  • Participate in multiple project teams to provide robust scientific and technical support
  • Collaborate extensively within and outside of Merck Research Laboratories to ensure successful project progression
  • Mentor junior scientists and serve as a critical expert resource for the entire site


  • Required:  Ph.D. in Molecular/Cellular Biology, Pharmacology, Bioengineering or a relevant scientific discipline
  • Required Experience:
  • Minimum of (8) years Drug Discovery experience preferably in a Biotech/Pharmaceutical setting
  • Strong expertise in high content imaging/phenotypic assay and complex cell model development, optimization and implementation
  • Highly skilled in the design and execution of plate-based imaging assays for target ID, validation and compound characterization, using high-content and/or live cell imagers (e.g. Opera Phenix and IncuCyte)
  • Prior experience with complex 3D culture models and machine-learning driven image analysis is highly desirable
  • Highly experienced with cellular pharmacology techniques to measure target engagement and pharmacodynamics parameters for SAR support and mechanistic investigation
  • Broad drug discovery experience with diverse target classes (e.g. receptors, enzymes, protein-protein interactions, etc.) is strongly preferred
  • Good track records in the development and implementation of complex cell assays for compound profiling and SAR, and integrating such data into mechanistic differentiation/ optimization of small molecule and biologic lead candidates
  • Demonstrated ability to work independently and collaboratively to advance drug discovery projects in a highly cross-functional environment
  • High content imaging/phenotypic assay and complex cell model development; design and execution of plate-based imaging assays for target ID, validation and compound characterization; cellular pharmacology techniques to measure target engagement and pharmacodynamics parameters for SAR support and mechanistic investigation
  • Preferred Experience:
  • Complex 3D culture model development and machine-learning driven image analysis; broad drug discovery experience with diverse target classes
    The quality of our team is essential to our success. We are creating a new and innovative approach to rewarding our employees and establishing a comprehensive value proposition. Our competitive compensation program and benefits are designed to support the wide range of goals, needs and lifestyles of our employees, and the people that matter the most in their lives. If you need an accommodation for the application process please email us at  Merck & Co., Inc. Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A. known as Merck in the United States and Canada, is a global health care leader with a diversified portfolio of prescription medicines, vaccines and animal health products.  Today, we are building a new kind of healthcare company – one that is ready to help create a healthier future for us all.

    Job: Research Science
    Other Locations:
    Employee Status: Regular
    Travel: Yes, 5 % of the Time
    Number of Openings:
    Shift (if applicable):
    Hazardous Materials:
    Company Trade Name: Merck

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