Lead Optimization Latin America (LOLA) Intern

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
[Closing date: 3 February 2019


Founded in 2003 to address the needs of patients with the most neglected diseases, Drugs for Neglected Diseases initiative (DNDi) is a collaborative, patients’ needs-driven, not-for-profit drug R&D organization (www.dndi.org). We are regularly looking for talented individuals to join us in our efforts to develop safe, effective, and affordable treatments for diseases such as Leishmaniasis and Chagas disease, affecting some of the world’s poorest and most neglected communities.

DNDi has a large portfolio of R&D projects covering every area of drug development: from drug discovery, to clinical trials in some of the remotest regions on Earth, to implementation of access programs in large endemic regions. We follow a “distributed virtual research model”, whereby most research is outsourced with our R&D partners (universities, industry, and CROs) and actively managed by DNDi staff at one of our offices (such as the Regional Office in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil).

In the initial steps of the drug discovery pipeline, large chemical libraries are screened against intracellular parasites (phenotypic-based screening) or enzymes/proteins (target-based screening). Hits identified in these campaigns are them transferred to one of the three lead optimization consortia (LO-US, LO-AUS, LOLA) for further multiparametric parallel optimization. Preclinical candidates are nominated according to well-defined milestones, and if no red flags are raised during regulatory toxicology, these candidates will enter clinical development via DNDi’s clinical platforms.

The LOLA project activities include, but are not limited to, the design, synthesis and screening of multiple chemical series, progressing them according to DNDi’s target candidate profiles. We partner locally with medicinal chemistry and parasitology groups at UNICAMP and USP, with additional support from other international DNDi partners in both academia and pharmaceutical industry.


Purpose of the position

The LOLA Intern will directly assist the LOLA Manager with a wide range of activities related to drug discovery and lead optimization projects, including, but not limited to, chemical and biological data registration, scientific and operational reporting and documentation, communication with external partners, and other administrative and scientific tasks, as assigned.

S/he will be responsible for establishing and maintaining systems and processes that allow effective management of all drug discovery and lead optimization projects in Latin America.


Specific job responsibilities

  • Assist the LOLA Manager with all drug discovery and lead optimization activities in Latin America
  • Track chemical inventory and screening requests from multiple partners
  • Register chemical and biological data from multiple partners in DNDi’s cloud-database
  • Provide support to data search and analysis in multiple platforms (SciFinder, ScienceCloud, Stardrop…)
  • Provide support to scientific and operational reporting and documentation
  • Help organize and follow-up meetings with industrial/academic partners, contributing actively to the relationship with external R&D partners and funding agencies
  • Be accessible and respond to staff/manager enquiries in a timely manner
  • Attend internal DNDi meetings
  • Perform other duties as assigned


Job requirements

Skills and attributes

  • Strong ability to use initiative, prioritize, multi-task, and work well under pressure to meet deadlines.
  • Clear and systematic thinking that demonstrates good judgment and problem-solving competencies.
  • Excellent time management and organizational skills. Attention to details is essential to this position.
  • Ability to work effectively as part of a multicultural and multilanguage team.
  • Ability to maintain strict confidentially.


  • Experience in computational and/or medicinal chemistry is highly desirable
  • Previous scientific internships (chemistry and/or biology and/or pharmacology) are a plus


  • Chemistry, Pharmacy/Pharmacology, Biology/Biomedicine/Biochemistry or related fields, at least coursing 4-5 period.

Other requirements

  • Proficiency in Portuguese
  • Advanced English
  • Good knowledge of Microsoft Suite and basic chemistry software


Reporting line

  • The intern will report directly to the LOLA Manager



  • Works with Drug Discovery team (internal and external), and other regional office Latin America departments


Other information

  • Status: part time – temporary role – internship


To apply

  • Deadline for application: Accepting applications until 3 February 2019
  • Only shortlisted candidates will be contacted