Scientific Director- Novel Human Genetics (Neurology)

Collegeville, PA
September 22 2020
Organization Type
Scientific Director - Novel Human Genetics (Neurology)

The Novel Human Genetics Research Unit is looking for an accomplished and talented scientist. The successful candidates will work alongside a focused team of biologists, geneticists, chemists, DMPK scientists and clinicians to discover, optimize, and progress novel therapeutics to clinical Proof of Mechanism/Concept studies. In addition, the candidate will have the opportunity to participate in an exciting, innovative, and entrepreneurial environment which exemplifies true “ownership” of the drug discovery process. We are seeking a talented leader with at least 8 years of either independent research or industry experience in neuroscience, particularly neurodegenerative diseases, for a Scientific Director role to join an energetic team in the Novel Human Genetics Research Unit (NHG RU) with the goal of discovering and developing medicines for diseases with a significant unmet medical need.

The successful candidate will have deep knowledge and subject matter expertise in molecular, cellular and systems neurosciences but with interest and agility to navigate in to other disease areas based on scientific and business needs. A talent who aspires to learn and work collaboratively in teams will succeed in this role. Though drug discovery experience is not absolutely essential, basic understanding of pharmacology and general knowledge of drug discovery process is a must to contribute in scientific and strategic decisions in drug discovery and development projects. The position will involve either directly leading a team of laboratory scientists and/or leading a drug discovery project team in a matrix setting depending on the business needs. The candidate will work collaboratively in project teams with efforts ranging from target identification and/or validation through clinical candidate selection. The successful candidate is one who will put patients first, courageous, reveres team work, assumes personal accountability, makes robust data-driven decisions, open-minded, transparent, advocate of career development (self and others), and has a learning mindset.

Job Purpose and Key Responsibilities:
  • Be a subject matter expert in neurodegenerative diseases within and outside GSK
  • Be part of the leadership team to define and execute drug discovery strategy for the group
  • Be a creative, independent thinker and idea generator to identify emerging areas of science/drug discovery opportunities in neuroscience and help triage and prioritize opportunities in collaboration with various partners
  • Lead projects from conception to candidate selection and beyond by defining the critical path, timelines, Go/No Go decision points, and determining resource requirements
  • Accelerate progress in drug discovery programs through effective utilization of interpersonal skills while working with key stakeholders within (genetics, biology, chemistry, DMPK, safety, clinical) and outside (e.g. CROs, biotech partners, academic investigators) GSK.
  • Identify and highlight transformational opportunities in drug discovery programs to overcome challenges with current approaches
  • Be an effective communicator at daily work in writing documents and in presentations
  • Follow SOPs, policies, and provide oversight in internal and external studies to assure compliance and integrity
  • Support technical and leadership development of staff via mentoring and coaching
  • Work as an inspiring, influential and highly respected leader to promote scientific excellence and advancement
  • Be a strong ambassador for GSK to influence potential external partners

About NHG RU: The Novel Human Genetics Research Unit (NHG RU) was formed in 2019 to identify and advance novel molecular targets with genetic association to disease based on the foundational observation that targets with human genetic evidence supporting their causal role in the intended indication improves clinical success by two-fold. The NHG RU is therapeutically broad and complements other research units focusing in immunology and oncology. The current portfolio in the NHG RU includes projects focused on neurological diseases, including Parkinson's, Alzheimer's, ALS, Pain, in addition to metabolic diseases. The remit of NHG RU is to identify novel targets based on human genetics, develop assets for clinical studies, and perform Phase 1 first time in human and proof of mechanism studies in clinic. This goal is enabled through strategic external (23andMe, UK Biobank, FinnGen, Laboratory of Genomic Research, Public-Private Consortia) and GSK-internal partnerships (Functional Genomics, AI/ML, and Medicinal Sciences and Technology and clinical).

Why you?

Basic Qualifications
  • Advanced degree (PhD or MD/PhD) with at least 8 years' experience in neurosciences and neurodegenerative diseases such as Dementia including but not limited to Alzheimer's, Frontotemporal dementia, Lewy body dementia etc., and movement disorders (Parkinson's, ALS) demonstrated by track record of basic or translational research and/or drug discovery. Strong molecular and cell biology, as well as knowledge in pharmacology to swiftly navigate into other neurological diseases and into other disease areas is preferred.
  • Recognized intellectual leader and standing in the field of neuroscience evidenced by publications in high quality peer reviewed scientific journals.
  • Demonstrated expertise in applying current state-of-the-art technologies such as iPSC-derived cellular system with gene variants and omic analysis (e.g. ScRNASeq) as well as cellular phenotypic assays
  • Individual with Pharma/Biotech will have experience in identifying and advancing preclinical targets, performing robust peer review and due diligences, engaging internal and external partners, and presenting to senior management at decision-making meetings.
  • Individual with academic background will have demonstrated understanding of the drug discovery process to utilize knowledge, experience and/or expertise about in vitro and in vivo model systems to enable drug discovery in neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Highly effective in both written and verbal communications for relevant internal and external decision-making bodies.
  • Must be independent, energetic, resourceful and self-motivated with excellent inter-personal skills
  • Profound awareness and experience/interest in venturing into new emerging areas of research
  • Ability to assess clinical unmet need and commercial landscape to guide identification and critical evaluation of disease, drug discovery opportunities and provide strategic direction to drug discovery projects, as well as to initiate and drive projects to completion
  • Understanding of basic clinical pathology and potential impact of the target pathway on proposed disease indications and the corresponding patient population
  • Ability to independently and rapidly learn about new targets and therapeutic areas; be flexible and willing to do what is essential for the benefit of the programs regardless of expertise. Must have “can do” attitude.

Preferred Qualifications
  • Prior experience functioning in a director-level role in pharmaceutical and/or Biotech drug discovery setting and leading a group of laboratory scientists
  • Strong self-motivation; capable of multi-tasking but with attention to detail, working on multiple projects in different phases of research, and delivering on objectives on time/on budget.
  • Strong influencing skills and resourcefulness to facilitate collaboration across GSK and with external partners
  • Experience in planning and managing budget and resources.
  • Ability to inspire, lead and develop a team of biologists with a breadth in skills to foster a culture of innovation, teamwork, performance and trust
  • Ability to adapt to changing priorities.
  • Experience in leading projects in multiple therapy areas
  • Industry drug discovery experience in a leading capacity
  • Knowledge of various drug modalities (e.g. small molecules, biologics, ASO, gene therapies)
  • Demonstrated example of proposing new ideas and opportunities for drug discovery
  • Significant and proven program leadership experience in drug discovery

Why GSK?

Our values and expectations are at the heart of everything we do and form an important part of our culture.

These include Patient focus, Transparency, Respect, Integrity along with Courage, Accountability, Development, and Teamwork. As GSK focuses on our values and expectations and a culture of innovation, performance, and trust, the successful candidate will demonstrate the following capabilities:
  • Agile and distributed decision-making - using evidence and applying judgement to balance pace, rigor and risk, managing ambiguity and paradox.
  • Managing individual performance.
  • Creating a performance culture and driving results, prioritisation, execution, delivering performance.
  • Building strong relationships and collaboration in service of common goals, engaging the organisation and building trusted external networks for mutual benefit.
  • Committed to delivering high quality results, overcoming challenges, focusing on what matters, execution.
  • Continuously looking for opportunities to learn, build skills and share learning both internally and externally.
  • Building strong relationships and collaboration, managing trusted stakeholder relationships internally and externally.



*This is a job description to aide in the job posting, but does not include all job evaluation details.

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