Principle Scientist, Medicinal Chemistry

San Francisco Bay Area
Jul 16, 2021
Biotech Bay
Required Education
Position Type
Full time

Zai Lab is seeking a skilled Medicinal Chemist to drive small molecule discovery projects on oncology targets, from project evaluation, developing and implementing chemistry strategy for hit identification and lead optimization through to selection of preclinical development candidate. The successful candidate will be a member of a fast-paced and interactive research team contributing to the discovery and development of novel therapeutics. 

Organizational Relationships:

The Principal Scientist reports to the Head of Medicinal Chemistry, and collaborates extensively with DMPK, in vitro Biology and in vivo Pharmacology teams. He or She will oversee outsourced activities and manage internal resources.


- Initiate and drive chemistry of one or more small molecule drug discovery projects. Apply a wide variety of drug design concepts, and organic and medicinal chemistry skills in the design and synthesis of novel molecules as potential drug candidates

- Assist in choosing new biological targets and contribute to overall corporate medicinal chemistry strategy

- Closely follow emerging results of biological testing, ADME characterization, and other lead profiling assays; Proactively propose new strategies to improve key attributes and work collaboratively with cross-functional project team to overcome project hurdles. Drive SAR optimization cycle to achieve project goals.

- Coach junior chemists. Provide supervision and guidance to direct reports

- Manage external chemistry resources by setting up direction and priorities, as well as by monitoring progress, quality and timeline

- Proactively seek out new information in the literature and incorporate into individual project(s) as well as the overall program

- Be responsible for inventory upkeep, data tracking and archiving, and supply ordering

- Participate in intellectual property analysis and contribute to patent generation and application preparation

- Communicate effectively within project teams. Present chemistry strategy, plan and progress at project team meetings.

- Contribute to fostering a culture that embraces continuous learning and improvement and open communication; take a proactive role in scientific development and personal growth


- Ph.D. in organic or medicinal chemistry and a minimum of 5-10 years' experience, or MS with 8-10 years' relevant experience in a high-performing biotech or pharma with solid knowledge of modern synthetic methodology

- Demonstrated success in lead identification and lead optimization, delivering multiple novel molecules into preclinical and clinical development. Solid experience in structure-based drug design

- Project leadership experience driving team through lead optimization and selection of development candidate

- Solid understanding of various scientific disciplines in addition to medicinal chemistry, including biochemistry, DMPK, and toxicology.

- Knowledgeable about molecular attributes that can enhance success in early development and beyond

- Demonstrated ability to resolve key scientific hurdles by effectively utilizing available information and technical expertise

- Strong track record of productivity, as evidenced by driving project forward and robust publications and patents

- Excellent written and oral communication skills; ability to present chemistry strategies and progress to internal team, and to communicate effectively with external partners.

- Strong team spirit and interpersonal skills. Ability to work collaboratively in a cross-functional team setting, as well as with CROs and external partners.

- Desire and initiative to learn and tackle new challenges. Highly motivated and flexible with ability to work in fast-paced, goal-driven environment.

If you are interested in this position, please send an email with your resume.