Associate Principal Scientist, Discovery Pharmaceutical Sciences

South San Francisco, CA
Oct 25, 2018
Required Education
Position Type
Full time

Merck & Co., Inc. Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A. known as Merck in the United States and Canada, is a global health care leader with a diversified portfolio of prescription medicines, vaccines and animal health products. The difference between potential and achievement lies in the spark that fuels innovation and inventiveness; this is the space where Merck has codified its legacy for over a century. Merck’s success is backed by ethical integrity, forward momentum, and an inspiring mission to achieve new milestones in global healthcare.

Merck is on a quest for cures and is committed to being the world’s premier, most research-intensive biopharmaceutical company. Today, we’re doubling down on this goal. Merck Research Laboratories is a true scientific research facility of tomorrow, and will take Merck’s leading discovery capabilities and world-class small molecule and biologics R&D expertise to create breakthrough science that radically changes the way we approach serious diseases. 

Merck Research Laboratories South San Francisco, a wholly owned subsidiary of Merck and Co., is focused on driving discovery research.  Our new multi-disciplinary discovery research site offers state-of- the-art resources to explore the most promising science combined with Merck’s world-class R&D expertise in small molecules and biologics. Located within the heart of the Bay area’s biomedical community, research conducted in our new laboratories spans exploratory biology through early clinical development and is an integral part of Merck’s powerful world-class network of drug and vaccine discovery. 

At Merck, we are inspired by the belief that a research-driven enterprise dedicated to scientific excellence can create medicines and vaccines that save and improve lives. Every employee is building on our proud legacy of scientific breakthrough. Our ability to impact the lives of patients worldwide depends on the integrity, creativity, humility and scientific acumen of our team. We are creating a diverse organization that is inspired by invention and founded on a culture of respect and collaboration. At Merck Research Labs South San Francisco, you’ll have the opportunity to expand your knowledge and skills through collaboration with talented and dedicated colleagues while advancing your career.

Scientists in Merck’s Discovery Pharmaceutical Sciences Department (DPS) have the exciting opportunity to work on multi-disciplinary Discovery teams to help identify, characterize, and successfully transition quality drug candidate compounds from discovery to development. 

Responsibilities include and are not limited to the following:

  • Works closely with Medicinal Chemists and Discovery Teams throughout all stages of discovery to build key structure-property relationships across multiple drug modalities to identify optimal candidates for development
  • Design enabling preclinical formulations (drug delivery) for pharmacology and toxicology studies
  • Optimize preclinical drug candidates’ solid state phase (pharmaceutics, stable polymorph ID, salt selection, etc.)
  • Deliver key data sets for development candidate evaluation (Developability Assessment).
  • Identify new and impactful drug delivery and pharmaceutics technologies that enable the Merck pipeline 

Working at Merck’s new Innovation Hub in South San Francisco, the candidate should have a creative passion for identifying and applying effective drug delivery technologies and pharmaceutics methods as well as a track record of driving results and rapidly progressing from idea conception to in-vitro & in-vivo evaluation.  As part of Merck’s emphasis on innovation, the successful candidate also will actively explore external (commercial and academic) opportunities in order to engage new technologies related to drug delivery, pharmaceutics and other areas relevant to Merck’s drug discovery/development programs.

  • Must excel in a team environment, where they also will collaborate with development functions (preformulation, chemistry, formulation, analytical, and biopharmaceutics research) in order to prepare early data sets that can be translated to clinical formulation development and ultimately quality drug products. 
  • Expected to effectively present their work at team meetings as well as promote Merck science through publications and presentations/lectures.  The successful candidate must be able to balance their core laboratory research, team representation, and participation in key initiatives.
  • Will collaborate with Discovery Pharmaceutical Science teams on the East Coast in order to identify and advance programs and key department

The position reports to the local DPS Senior Director in South San Francisco. 



Education Minimum Requirement:   Required:  Ph.D. in Pharmaceutical Science, Chemistry, or related science 

Required Experience and Skills:  Minimum of 3 years experience in a Pharmaceutical Pre-clinical Development or Discovery organization. 

Experience and Skills:

  • Hands-on experience in drug delivery (i.e. Solubilization, nanoparticles, etc.) and solid state phase characterization, salt selection and polymorph evaluation. 
  • Strong leadership, interpersonal, communication, and collaboration skills along with strengths in delivering results on firm deadlines in support of discovery/development programs.  
  • Demonstrated disposition towards recognition in the field, creativity and innovation via a strong publication/presentation record

The quality of our team is essential to our success. We are creating a new and innovative approach to rewarding our employees and establishing a comprehensive value proposition. Our competitive compensation program and benefits are designed to support the wide range of goals, needs and lifestyles of our employees, and the people that matter the most in their lives. If you need assistance and/or a reasonable accommodation due to a disability during the application or the recruiting process, please send a request to


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Visa sponsorship is not available for this position.


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