Senior Director, Drug Discovery

Collegeville, PA
January 26 2021
Organization Type
The Novel Human Genetics Research Unit (NHG RU) was formed in 2019 to identify and advance novel 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 Research Unit is therapeutically broad (including, but not limited to, neurodegeneration, pain, osteoarthritis, and metabolic diseases), includes both small molecules and monoclonal antibody projects, and spans target identification to Ph 1 clinical studies. We have a strong partnership with 23andMe for early target identification and selection of novel, genetically-associated targets, with a subset of targets being advanced jointly.

The advertised Senior Director, Genetics Drug Discovery will assume immediately responsibility for an existing biology team of approximately 25 biologists at the GSK Upper Providence site in PA. This team sits alongside two other biology lines within the NHG RU (one also based in Upper Providence and one based in Stevenage, UK).

This role will provide YOU the opportunity to lead key activities to progress YOUR career, these responsibilities include the following…
  • Manage a multidisciplinary scientific biology team supporting diverse activities within the NHG RU ranging target identification based on genetics, functional genomics, and preclinical progression of targets in disease areas that may include neurodegeneration, pain, metabolic disease, fibrosis and others.
  • Oversee a portfolio of 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.
  • Ensure inflection-point driven research, data quality and data integrity.
  • Identify and highlight transformational opportunities in drug discovery programs to overcome challenges with current approaches.
  • Manage and mentor a group of senior and junior scientists (~25).
  • Support technical and leadership development of staff via mentoring and coaching.
  • Prioritize activities and manage biology resources to ensure robust progress toward, and achievement of, NHG RU objectives.
  • Be part of the leadership team to define and execute the drug discovery strategy for the group.
  • Be a subject matter expert in one or more disease areas outside of oncology (e.g., neurodegeneration, pain, metabolic disease, fibrosis).
  • Be a creative, independent thinker and idea generator to identify emerging areas of science/drug discovery opportunities and help triage and prioritize opportunities in collaboration with various partners.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Why you?

Basic Qualifications:

  • Advanced degree (PhD or MD/PhD) with experience across several disease areas and across both preclinical and clinical development.
  • Experience in therapeutic research including target identification, validation, lead optimization, preclinical candidate selection, and translation into first time in human (FTIH) trials for small and/or large molecules.
  • Experience with drug discovery process, including outlining a progression path with clear decision-making criteria that includes mechanism of action, target engagement, biomarker, and in vitro and in vivo model system studies.
  • Experience in leading and developing a team of scientists supporting multiple projects and leading in a matrix environment across multi-disciplinary teams.
  • Experience 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.

Preferred Qualifications:

If you have the following characteristics, it would be a plus:
  • Experience in germline genetics, editing techniques for target validation, and functional genomics.
  • Capable of leading and developing a team of biologists with a breadth in skills (such as molecular/cell biology, biochemistry, gene editing, cell culture, iPSC differentiation, in vivo model systems, and in vitro/ex vivo translational studies).
  • Experience in making decisions around the progression of novel targets and molecules by integrating biology with clinical need and feasibility, competition, commercial opportunity, and return on investment.
  • Existing network of academic collaborators and CROs.
  • 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.
  • Ability to inspire and motivate a group of biologists, line and project leaders for optimum performance
  • Strong influencing skills and resourcefulness to facilitate collaboration across GSK
  • Highly effective in both written and verbal communications for relevant internal and external decision-making bodies.
  • Experience in planning and managing budget and resources.
  • Experience in working with academics, biotechs, and CROs.
  • Ability to adapt to changing priorities.

Why GSK?

Our values and expectationsare 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, rigour and risk.
  • Managing individual and team performance.
  • Committed to delivering high quality results, overcoming challenges, focusing on what matters, execution.
  • Implementing change initiatives and leading change.
  • Sustaining energy and well-being, building resilience in teams.
  • Continuously looking for opportunities to learn, build skills and share learning both internally and externally.
  • Developing people and building a talent pipeline.
  • Translating strategy into action - a compelling narrative, motivating others, setting objectives and delegation.
  • Building strong relationships and collaboration, managing trusted stakeholder relationships internally and externally.
  • Budgeting and forecasting, commercial and financial acumen.


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