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Medicinal Chemistry Team Leader, Drug Discovery Unit

Drug Discovery Unit
Dundee, UK
dependent on experience, will be in the range £53,348- £60,022
Closing date
18 Dec 2021
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Job Details

Medicinal Chemistry Team Leader, Drug Discovery Unit

The Drug Discovery Unit is passionate about tackling unmet medical need for globally important diseases that kill millions of people across the world every year and damage the economies of many countries.

Established for over 15 years, The Drug Discovery Unit (DDU), School of Life Sciences ( is a rare, 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. The DDU’s remit is to complement Biotech/Pharma activities by tackling early-stage small molecule drug discovery across a range of therapeutic areas. The DDU has leading scientists, state-of-the-art technologies, purpose built laboratories, and key therapeutic expertise in a range of diseases. The DDU develops first-in-class differentiated therapeutics and collaborates with many of the world's top pharmaceutical companies. Our outputs include new drug candidates and validated novel drug targets for major infectious diseases, e.g. leishmaniasis, malaria and TB, as well as cancer and neurodegeneration. The DDU has also contributed to the establishment of 7 new companies.

We are offering an enthusiastic and experienced medicinal chemist the chance to join the dynamic, multidisciplinary Drug Discovery Unit as a team leader.

As a University we are currently exploring more flexible working options with our staff and for this specific role we are open to discussing the possibility of remote working within the UK as appropriate.

Joining us offers you the opportunity to -

  • Grow your expertise and track record through delivering drug candidates that address global diseases.
  • Develop your partnership-building skills and enhance your global scientific presence and contacts by collaborating with leading academic groups, and biotech and pharma companies.
  • Contribute more broadly through helping to drive innovation and medicinal chemistry best practice within a leading university-based drug discovery group.
  • Take part in our busy public engagement programme to gain new skills and inspire people with the work you do.
  • Continue your personal leadership development through participation in the DDU career development programme.

The post is available immediately on an open-ended contract. Salary, dependent on experience, will be in the range £53,348-  £60,022.  The Drug Discovery Unit operates on an external funding basis. The Principal Investigators within these units are highly successful in securing external funding for their multi-disciplinary and highly collaborative research and activities. 

With your experience gained working in biotech, pharma or academia/research institutes, you will lead a talented team of chemists, set and monitor project objectives, drive interactions between multiple disciplines, and use your experience of multiparameter optimisation to design new molecules to tackle major global diseases.

Your primary responsibilities:

  • Work within interdisciplinary teams and drive drug discovery projects at all stages, ensuring key milestones and objectives are met.
  • Lead hit validation/hit to lead/lead optimisation medicinal chemistry projects through applying multiparameter optimisation, to identify suitable compounds demonstrating appropriate pharmaceutical properties and efficacy in appropriate disease models.
  • Lead a medicinal chemistry team, setting objectives, supporting career development and monitoring performance.
  • Presenting summary data, key findings and conclusions to relevant individuals/groups.
  • Write reports, presentations and publications as required.
  • Oversee outsourced chemistry.

Required knowledge, qualifications, skills and experience:

  • Candidates must be professionally qualified with a BSc or PhD in a chemical science related discipline with subsequent substantial relevant Biotech/Pharma industry or similar drug discovery experience.
  • Demonstrable expertise in concepts and practice of all aspects of drug discovery, particularly in medicinal and synthetic chemistry design.
  • Understanding and appreciation of the drug discovery process, including the interactions between biology, drug metabolism & pharmacokinetics, computational & medicinal and chemistry structural biology.
  • Evidence of managing successful drug discovery projects and people in the BioPharma industry or a professional drug discovery environment.
  • Demonstrable strong initiative, and interpersonal, time management, organisational and communication skills.
  • A demonstrable ability to work flexibly and to meet project milestones.

Desirable attributes

  • Experience of leadership of multi-disciplinary teams.
  • Experience of successful working with collaborators and/or in consortiums.

Facilities and Environment

The DDU is a dynamic and multidisciplinary group of ~130 scientists with broad expertise across the drug discovery disciplines. The unit is housed in a state-of-the-art building and has cutting-edge equipment and automation to deliver pre-clinical and clinical candidates.

The DDU is part of the Wellcome Centre for Anti-infectives Research (WCAIR). There is a very interactive and open culture amongst WCAIR’s 170 scientists, with many collaborations between the different groups. There are also many opportunities for sharing and exchanging ideas such as weekly seminars, pizza lunches, 6-monthly symposia and an annual retreat.

WCAIR and the DDU are embedded in the School of Life Sciences which has been consistently rated ‘5-star’ by the UK national Research Assessment Exercise. Dundee has twice been named ‘the best place to work in Europe’ in a poll of scientists conducted by The Scientist magazine. You can go on a virtual visit of our labs ( and further details for School of Life Sciences facilities ( and support for staff ( . As an internationally diverse institution, we welcome job applicants from all countries and nationalities. The School of Life Sciences is proud to employ staff from over 40 different nations.

Dundee lies in an area of outstanding natural beauty, including large sandy beaches and the Scottish Highlands less than an hour away. The city has lots to offer with fantastic attractions such as the striking V&A Dundee, the Dundee Rep, Dundee Contemporary Arts and more. Read more about the rewarding work and life environment in Dundee (

As an internationally diverse institution, we welcome job applicants from all countries and nationalities. The School of Life Sciences is proud to employ staff from over 40 different nations.

The diversity of our staff and students helps to make the University of Dundee a UK university of choice for undergraduate, postgraduate and distance learning. Family friendly policies, staff networks for BME, Disabled and LGBT staff, membership of Athena SWAN, the ECU Race Equality Charter and Stonewall as well a full range of disability services, create an enjoyable and inclusive place to work.


The Drug Discovery Unit was established in 2006 to translate world-class biology research in to new de-risked targets and candidate drugs.

The initial focus was on Diseases of the Developing World, in which the University has an outstanding international reputation.

Our Innovative Targets Portfolio (ITP) can accept high quality, commercially viable projects in any therapeutic area as long as the approach is novel, the project addresses unmet medical need and the pathway to the clinic is clear. 

We are also developing an Antibacterial Drug Discovery Accelerator working in collaboration with senior investiagtors across the UK and beyond to create a step-change in the discovery of new antimicrobial drugs.

We seek to identify novel therapeutic targets and mechanisms of disease and aim to deliver pharmacological lead compounds with supporting data in an animal and/or tissue model of disease.

Our strategy taps into a wealth of world-class academic research that is of tremendous industry interest in the current market but has, until recently, remained untranslated.

We are housed within purpose built facilities at the University of Dundee School of Life Sciences.

Find Us
School of Life Sciences
University of Dundee
Dow Street
United Kingdom
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