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Innovation Scholar, Open Innovation @ NITD

Novartis - NIBR
Emeryville, California (US)
Closing date
Dec 6, 2021
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The Innovation Scholar, Research Data Scientist for Malaria Drug Discovery will focus on neglected diseases, global health, and pandemic preparedness.

Open Innovation @ NITD, Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases was established to address fundamental questions in drug discovery for global health. This 2-year Innovation Scholar position represents a unique opportunity for a Ph.D. early-career Research Data Scientist to work in the San Francisco Bay Area at one of the leading research hubs focusing on solving global unmet medical needs. The goal is publishable work, and to make innovative models and tools available to the full global health research community. Yet, it benefits from the infrastructure of a world-class pharmaceutical company, with an extensive global network of scientists across a wide range of disciplines, state-of-the-art research facilities, and with the opportunity to apply pioneering research in live, fast-moving, drug discovery projects.

Of singular importance for data science research is Novartis’ trove of historical data, acquired by literally generations of chemists and biologists. It includes 10,000s of assays, millions of compounds, and 10 millions of experimental measurements. These data have been integrated through the internally developed Profile-QSAR method [J. Chem. Inf. Model. 2019, 59(10), 4450–4459], a massively multi-task stacked model that predicts bioactivity with accuracy comparable to 4-concentration dose-response measurements for 75% of Novartis’ 15,000 largest bioassays. By contrast, conventional single-assay machine-learning models achieved this success for only 8% of assays, demonstrating the leverage of exploiting this extensive data resource. Besides making possible superior malaria models to identify new chemical matter, having the entire profile of bioactivity predictions for each compound enables identifying mechanisms of action from phenotypic screens and off-target activities to prioritize leads with good selectivity and ADMET properties. Profile-QSAR also has the unique ability for multiple research institutions to safely merge their multitask profile-QSAR models exactly as if they had actually shared their compound structures, targets, or bioactivities [J. Chem. Inf. Model. 2021, 61(4) 1603–1616]—particularly valuable in collaborative global health. The Innovation Scholar will further develop the Profile-QSAR method, integrate it with other methods such as generative chemistry, DNA encoded libraries and structure-based design, apply it in Malaria drug discovery projects, and make the models and tools available to the wider scientific community.

EEO Statement
The Novartis Group of Companies are Equal Opportunity Employers and take pride in maintaining a diverse environment. We do not discriminate in recruitment, hiring, training, promotion or other employment practices for reasons of race, color, religion, gender, national origin, age, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, marital or veteran status, disability, or any other legally protected status. We are committed to building diverse teams, representative of the patients and communities we serve, and we strive to create an inclusive workplace that cultivates bold innovation through collaboration and empowers our people to unleash their full potential.

Minimum requirements

What you will bring to the role:

  • The qualified candidate will be a highly motivated, creative and independent research scientist with strong expertise in machine learning
  • The candidate will have a Ph.D. in computational chemistry, cheminformatics, bioinformatics, data science or similar focus area required
  • Demonstrated skills of additional years of research experience desired
  • Research experience should include familiarity with biological systems and organic chemistry
  • The candidate should be a fluent python programmer familiar with data science packages such as Pandas and scikit learn
  • Facility with chemistry toolkits such as rdkit is a plus, as is experience with docking and 3D QSAR preferable
  • Well-developed interpersonal skills, excellent written and verbal communication skills and a collaborative, can-do spirit are essential
  • The Open Innovation Scholar position is for a single 2-year term

About NITD
Novartis Institute for Tropical Diseases (NITD) is located in the San Francisco Bay Area, NITD is dedicated to fighting parasitic infectious diseases of high medical need in a dynamic working environment. NITD is an Institute within the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research (NIBR), and as such has full access to NIBR know-how and resources. NITD is renowned for applying cutting-edge technologies to the discovery of high-quality clinical candidates for the treatment of neglected diseases.

Why consider Novartis?
769 million. That’s how many lives our products touch. And while we’re proud of that fact, in this world of digital and technological transformation, we must also ask ourselves this: how can we continue to improve and extend even more people’s lives?

We believe the answers are found when curious, courageous and collaborative people like you are brought together in an inspiring environment. Where you’re given opportunities to explore the power of digital and data. Where you’re empowered to risk failure by taking smart risks, and where you’re surrounded by people who share your determination to tackle the world’s toughest medical challenges.

Commitment to Diversity & Inclusion:
Novartis embraces diversity, equal opportunity and inclusion. We are committed to building diverse teams, representative of the patients and communities we serve, and we strive to create an inclusive workplace that cultivates bold innovation through collaboration, and empowers our people to unleash their full potential.

Join our Novartis Network: If this role is not suitable to your experience or career goals but you wish to stay connected to learn more about Novartis and our career opportunities, join the Novartis Network here:

We are Novartis. Join us and help us re-imagine medicine.

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