University of Dundee

Head of Translational Chemistry

Drug Discovery Unit
Job Reference: 
Closing Date: 
Monday, May 16, 2022
Please refer to advert
Head of Translational Chemistry, Drug Discovery Unit, University of Dundee

Tenured position at Reader/ Professorial Level

We are seeking an experienced medicinal chemist and drug discoverer to be Head of Translational Chemistry in the Drug Discovery Unit (DDU) at the University of Dundee. This is an exciting position to develop new small molecule medicines to treat a range of indications, with particular emphases on: infectious diseases affecting Low and Middle Income Countries; and innovative targets in a range of human diseases.

This is a substantive leadership post in a highly collaborative environment. The successful applicant will be part of the DDU Senior Leadership Team, which steers and leads the organisation.

Established for 16 years, The Drug Discovery Unit (DDU) in the School of Life Sciences ( is a unique, 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 unit has purpose-built laboratories and state-of-the-art equipment for drug discovery and expertise in assay design, high-throughput and high-content screening, molecular pharmacology, medicinal, computational and analytical chemistry, DMPK and efficacy models. We develop molecules up to and including pre-clinical drug candidates.

Together with our Pharma and Product Development Partners, the DDU has delivered 4 compounds into the clinic, contributed to 7 spin-outs, and has a rich portfolio of programs at the lead-optimisation and hit-to-lead stages.

The DDU has an international reputation for its work on neglected infectious diseases and is a key component of the Wellcome Centre for Anti-Infectives Research at Dundee (about 70% of our activity).

Our Innovative Targets Portfolio addresses novel targets in cancer, inflammation and neurodegeneration, leading to licencing deals and spin-out (about 30% of our activity). The DDU has leading scientists, state-of-the-art technologies, purpose-built laboratories, and key therapeutic expertise in a range of diseases.

What this post offers

This post offers the successful applicant an opportunity to have a very significant leadership role in a unique discovery team, with opportunities to guide delivery of drug candidates across a variety of disease areas and to introduce innovation into the drug discovery process. In particular, it provides an opportunity to deliver drug candidates for major global diseases.

The post is available immediately and will report to the Head of the DDU.  The appointment will be made on the University's Grade 9 or Grade 10 salary scale, dependent on experience. 

Required Attributes

  • A degree and PhD in organic/ medicinal chemistry and a substantial publication/ patent portfolio.
  • Experience in leading drug discovery programmes from hit discovery through lead optimisation to candidate selection.
  • Experience in structurally enabled drug discovery programmes.
  • Experience in developing collaborative projects with external partners.
  • An enthusiasm for introducing innovation into the drug discovery process.
  • Ability to develop and lead multidisciplinary teams of scientists.
  • Ability to present projects internally and externally.
  • Initiative and willingness to work flexibly to meet milestones and deadlines.
  • Excellent decision making, interpersonal and communication skills.
  • Experience and/or willingness to write funding applications.
For more information about this position please contact Prof Ian Gilbert (
We are one of the UK’s leading universities – internationally recognised for our expertise across a range of disciplines and research breakthroughs in multiple areas, including science, medicine and engineering, amongst many others. Conveniently located on the banks of River Tay, our main city-centre campus is at the heart of Dundee - an up-and-coming, friendly, compact and affordable city with a rich heritage in design and technology. Just a short walk from the V&A Museum of Design Dundee, we’re close to both the train and bus stations. We also have campuses at Ninewells Hospital and in Kirkcaldy which are easily accessible via local transport links.

The University of Dundee is a signatory of the Researcher Development Concordat and is committed to enhancing the research environment and culture. Engagement and support of activities which assist the researcher development agenda at the University is therefore essential.

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.

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