Director, Center for Drug Discovery

Job Description:

Washington University seeks an impactful and collaborative scientific leader with industry experience for the newly created position of Director, Center for Drug Discovery (CDD). The CDD supports and facilitates preclinical discovery research in both small molecule and biologic-based therapeutics and provides services to PIs across the entire enterprise. The CDD currently comprises a state-of-the-art high-throughput screening (HTS) core facility and medicinal chemistry services.

Reporting to the Vice Chancellor for Research with matrixed reporting to the Chief Commercialization Office and Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, the Director leads a group of scientists responsible for consulting and partnering with principal investigators (PIs) to develop strategies and execute the identification and validation of disease biology for advancement into clinical development. The Director will have the opportunity to grow and expand the CDD’s biologics capability through proactive engagement with the WashU research community.

Key Duties and Responsibilities

Consulting and Project Management

  • Provides advice and strategic consultation to investigators on methods to advance molecules through the drug development process. Makes recommendations on drug design, potential therapeutic applications, and regulatory and development pathways.
  • Manages ongoing drug development projects working with CROs, PIs, and other stakeholders to ensure project timeline and milestones are met.
  • Serves as connector and conduit, introducing PIs with other potential collaborators/partners.
  • Develops and provides written reports, data sets, technical summaries, and presentations to communicate project outcomes/recommendations.

Pipeline Development/Outreach

  • Builds CDD biologics pipeline through ongoing marketing strategies:
  • Regularly communicates CDD opportunities to the research community through the promotion of grant award programs, speaker panels, hosting/attending workshops, and distribution of the CDD newsletter.
  • Develops and executes new business development/growth strategies.
  • Sets and meets productivity goals and growth targets.

  • Provides administrative oversight of CDD operations including:
  • Meets regularly with the CDD team to review operations and set priorities.
  • Hires, mentors, and develops new staff and provides regular feedback.
  • Review and approval of contracts, POs, and Center finances.
  • Develops and manages annual budget.
  • Develops/maintains a roster of qualified CROs and other partners/vendors.
  • Project management; review and assignment of new and ongoing projects.
  • Provides progress updates/reports to Vice Chancellor for Research, Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biophysics, and Chief Commercialization Officer as well as the Provost.
Strategic Collaboration

  • Collaborates with key research centers, Office of Technology Management, Office of Strategic Projects and Outreach, and Cortex Research Community to advance the goals of the CDD; participates in relevant university strategic initiatives.


  • Develops and manages independent research projects.
  • Participates in publishing and grant writing.
Knowledge, Skills, and Abilities

  • Experienced at identifying and prioritizing research projects in early-stage drug discovery.
  • Proven track record for transitioning targets from early-stage drug discovery into the clinic.
  • Ability to build professional relationships across a wide range of stakeholders and staff including senior leadership.
  • Ability to lead cross-functional teams and collaborate with colleagues in Chemistry, PK, Pharmacology, Discovery Toxicology, Biology, etc.
  • Detail-oriented and highly organized, with the ability to manage multiple projects and meet deadlines.
  • Excellent diplomacy and interpersonal skills. High EQ with the ability to navigate group and organizational dynamics.
  • Adept at navigating a complex, matrixed environment.
  • Ability to work in a lean environment; enjoys being hands-on.
  • Ability to communicate effectively with research faculty.
  • Stays abreast of biopharma/pharma drug development field and regulatory trends.
  • Strong communications skills both oral and written.

Minimum Qualifications

  • PhD in a relevant scientific field plus 8-10 years of experience in pre-clinical drug development in a biopharma, pharmaceutical, academic drug discovery center, and/or CRO setting.At least 5 years of experience supervising scientists and leading multi-disciplinary teams.

Preferred Qualifications

  • PhD in a relevant scientific field with 10+ years of experience in pre-clinical drug discovery in both academic and industry environments.Deep knowledge of the drug development process from basic science to commercialization (IND).Demonstrated experience in managing relationships with CROs and other outsourcing partners.Strong track record of independent and innovative research as evidenced by publications in peer-reviewed journals.Tenure track appointment in the School of Medicine at Associate or Full Professor is available for qualified candidates.

About Washington University in St. Louis

Founded in 1853, WashU is internationally renowned for teaching, research, service to society, and patient care with highly ranked schools spanning arts and sciences, architecture and fine arts, business, engineering, law, social work, and medicine. The university has more than 15,500 undergraduate and graduate students, 4,151 faculty, and 19,646 employees with $879.3 million (2021) in total research support. The university’s annual operating budget is over $3.83 billion (2021) and the endowment is $13.7 billion. The University has a consistently strong financial position and is rated AA+/Aa1 by Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s respectively. Strategic, targeted investments support and advance diversity, equity and inclusion across the University.

Application Process

Please submit a resume/CV, letter of interest via the faculty opportunities site:

For confidential inquiries, please contact: Nancy Donohoo, ndonohoo'

EEO Statement

Washington University is an Equal Opportunity Employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, genetic information, disability, or protected veteran status.

Requirement Description: Minimum Qualifications PhD in a relevant scientific field plus 8-10 years of experience in pre-clinical drug development in a biopharma, pharmaceutical, academic drug discovery center, and/or CRO setting.At least 5 years of experience supervising scientists and leading multi-disciplinary teams.

Required Qualification: PhD

Contact Person: Nancy Donohoo

Contact email:

Contact Number: 3149352698

Company/University: Washington University in St. Louis

Category: Full Time

Industry: Pharma

1 Brookings Drive,,,,,,,,,,,,,
Saint Louis, MO

Type of Job: Director/CEO/Chair/President

Posted Date: 22 November 2022

Expires on: 31 January 2023

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