Discovery Project Leader

Geneva, Switzerland
[Closing date: September 10, 2017]


Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is a collaborative, patients’ needs-driven, non-profit drug research and development (R&D) organization that is developing new treatments for Neglected Diseases (

DNDi has a large portfolio of R&D activities covering 7 disease areas: human African trypanosomiasis, leishmaniasis, Chagas disease, filarial diseases, mycetoma, paediatric HIV and hepatitis C. R&D projects are driven by patients’ medical needs for each disease area that in turn set strategy and scientific approaches.

DNDi does not have any research facilities and does not directly conduct research to develop its treatments. DNDi follows a virtual research model, whereby most research is outsourced with the R&D projects actively managed by DNDi personnel who are experienced in different aspects of pharmaceutical development.

DNDi proactively identifies research opportunities that have the highest potential to be translated into improved treatment options, then sources the research project into its portfolio, builds the full development plan, identifies and contracts the appropriate partners for each step in the development process, and manages the efficient advancement of the project throughout the pipeline.

Over half of the R&D staff are located in Geneva working in close collaboration with disease-specific R&D teams operating in regional offices located in Africa, Asia and South America.


Purpose of the position

The Discovery Project Leader will lead and manage multiple drug discovery projects applying highly collaborative, virtual models to access the best science to contribute to DNDi’s portfolio of new chemical entities (NCEs). The Discovery Project Leader will liaise closely with DNDi’s disease teams, support on-going development projects, and ensure emerging results from the clinic are quickly fed back into discovery projects. The Discovery Project Leader will also help design and test new approaches for conducting drug discovery for neglected patients and diseases.

The Discovery Project Leader will lead the activities of one or more existing or new drug discovery consortia comprised of academic research laboratories, research institutes, CROs, pharmaceutical companies and expert consultants.  The consortia will optimize hits from screening and after achieving in vivo proof of principle proceed to select advanced leads and ultimately preclinical candidates for further development.  The Discovery Project Leader may continue to support the preclinical development of candidates in collaboration with DNDi’s pharmaceutical development and translational teams.

The Discovery Project Leader will be the Discovery team representative on one or more extended disease teams, working closely with colleagues to communicate progress in discovery projects and to also bring back learnings from the clinic into discovery.

The Discovery team at DNDi will develop and test novel approaches to conducting drug discovery through innovative science, partnerships and models. The Discovery Project Leader will contribute ideas and help implement and develop these new approaches.


Specific job responsibilities

  • Lead one or more of DNDi’s drug discovery consortia; set strategic goals, assign and manage resources, and assess progress and priorities. Accountable for a significant budget and resources and ensure they are used effectively to deliver against the annual action plan
  • Is the point of contact between DNDi and multiple external partners
  • Seek out new science and partners to enrich DNDi’s discovery projects
  • Is an integral part and work very closely with the other members of the Discovery team
  • Prepare reports and present results to DNDi’s management, scientific advisory committee and external stakeholders
  • Work closely with colleagues on fund raising activities and may be the principle investigator on grant applications
  • Is an ambassador for DNDi, present our work to partners and at scientific meetings, and influence the research environment for neglected diseases
  • Work closely with colleagues of the Communication Department and is involved in the R&D part of annual reports, etc.

Reporting line

  • S/he reports to the Discovery Director


  • Work within the Discovery team, and liaise closely with relevant extended disease teams and across all departments including Communications, Fund-Raising, Business Development Legal and Procurement, and Finance and with DNDi’s Regional Offices.


Job requirements

Skills and attributes

  • High ability to use initiative, prioritize, multi-task, and work well under pressure to meet deadlines
  • Very clear and systematic thinking that demonstrates strong judgment and problem solving competencies
  • Excellent communication, and public speaking skills, ability to convince and represent DNDi at high level events
  • Experience of successfully managing global multicultural teams
  • Highly organized and structured
  • High analytical skills
  • High ability to lead large strategic projects
  • High ability to manage large size projects with budget management
  • Very strong strategic thinking and leadership abilities
  • Excellent management, negotiation, and advocacy skills
  • High ability to exercise high degree of independence to ensure program delivery and explore new areas of activities
  • High ability to interact with internal and external stakeholders
  • High ability to lead and motivate a team for optimum performance

R&D technical skills

  • Expert in medicinal chemistry or a related drug discovery discipline such as biology/ DMPK/toxicology
  • Broad understanding of interdisciplinary drug discovery
  • Experience of working in highly collaborative teams across different time zones


  • Over 10 years in senior roles in drug discovery teams with a track record of successful project delivery
  • Proven ability to work effectively in a team environment and matrix structure
  • Experience of working in public and private sector is highly desirable


  • Advanced post graduate degree or graduate degree with equivalent in experience to reach at least Masters level in chemistry, biology or pharmacy

Other requirements

  • Fluency in English
  • Proficiency in local languages desirable
  • Excellent knowledge of Microsoft suite



Other information

  • Status: (Full time –  Permanent role)


To apply

  • Deadline for application: Accepting applications until September 10th, 2017
  • Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted