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Head of Medicinal Chemistry

Location Oss, North Brabant, Netherlands Job ID R-067808 Date posted 01/24/2020

Do you have a proven track record in drug discovery and development within the pharmaceutical industry? Do you have a scientific background in medicinal chemistry, and a genuine interest for oncology?

For our close-knit team, with a passion for contributing to the quality of patients’ lives, we are looking for a Head of Medicinal Chemistry.

Head of Medicinal Chemistry


Full time

What will you be doing?

As the Head of Medicinal Chemistry, you are responsible for delivering innovative small molecules in support of building a portfolio in haematologic malignancies at Acerta Pharma together with Oncology Research at AstraZeneca. You will take the lead in all pre-clinical chemistry operations at Acerta Pharma in the Netherlands. Together with the leadership team at Acerta Pharma in the Netherlands and the haematologic oncology research and early development leadership, you are responsible for the strategic direction of chemistry for projects with the aim to leverage these to clinical candidate stage.  

In addition, you will manage, train and develop two medicinal chemistry teams and be responsible for their performance.

Your responsibilities:

  • You manage your two teams of research chemists that work on drug discovery projects, you are responsible for their development and performance and oversee their professional development.
  • You are responsible for all medicinal chemistry aspects of the drug discovery process at Acerta Pharma in the Netherlands by ensuring research teams have adequate technical expertise and integrating activities into the broader work of the research teams across Acerta Pharma and AstraZeneca.
  • You contribute significantly to the overall strategic direction and development of the department and align the departmental objectives with the overall business objectives.
  • You develop efficient lead generation and optimisation strategies across multiple chemotypes, and you interface effectively with process chemistry and scale-up.
  • You build networks with other team leaders or technical experts across functions internally and externally and identify cutting-edge approaches to impact therapeutics projects.
  • Effectively communicate results both oral and in written from, including publication in peer-reviewed journals; capitalise on intellectual property and trade secrets.

What do we ask from you?

  • PhD in a relevant scientific discipline like Medicinal or Organic Chemistry.
  • Minimum of 10 years relevant experience in the pharmaceutical industry with focus on drug discovery from the chemistry perspective.
  • Minimum of 5 years managerial experience, proven experience in bringing your team to the next level, both as a team and on an individual level.
  • You have a proven track record in delivery of clinical candidate small molecules, ideally in the oncology space.
  • You can work independently and effectively in a matrix environment, coupled with a ‘whatever it takes’ approach to move projects forward.
  • Proven publication track record in the field of medicinal chemistry. You are an inventor on multiple patent applications.
  • You are fluent in English and it is a benefit if you speak Dutch or willing to learn Dutch.
  • You are currently living in the Netherlands or willing to relocate.
  • You will bring your own scientific network and you are able to build and maintain your network.
  • Competences: strong leadership skills, strong communicator, organizational sensitive, strong personality, able to deal with disappointments, flexible, team player, helicopter view, problem solving and conflict management skills.

What do we offer you?

  • A dynamic, innovative, international working environment, to let you be a part of the development of the new medicines which can make the difference to the life of patients.
  • The possibility to work in a small, dedicated team where you can learn from each other. The team spirit is very good!
  • The possibility to cooperate with your international colleagues from (medicinal) chemistry departments of AstraZeneca.
  • The opportunity for further career development.
  • A competitive salary and excellent secondary employment conditions, including: 8% holiday allowance, 25 holidays on an annual basis based on a fulltime employment, collective pension with a fixed percentage, car allowance and bonus package.

The Team

In this position you will report to the Site Head of Acerta Pharma in the Netherlands. The Medicinal Chemistry team in Oss consists of PhD level (Senior) Research Scientists, and MSc or BSc level (Senior) Scientists and Research Associates at present. They will all report to you either directly or indirectly.
We work closely together with the Biology team and the Translational Science team in Oss, and other cross-functional teams located at the Acerta Pharma and AstraZeneca sites in the EU and US. In addition, you will work in close collaboration with the Oncology Sciences teams in Waltham, USA and Cambridge UK.

The culture is informal with an excellent team spirit. Willingness to share and to learn from each other in an open atmosphere are key to our success. We work for shared objectives and goals!

Acerta Pharma

Acerta Pharma B.V. started its operations in 2013 and is a leader in the field of covalent binding technology and is applying this technology to create novel, highly selective therapies for cancer.

Around 200 people work at Acerta Pharma, divided over 3 locations, one at the Pivot Park in Oss in The Netherlands, and two in the US (San Carlos and South San Francisco). In Oss there are about 50 enthusiastic, inspired colleagues working every day on drug discovery and development, together with the teams in the US in order to bring new treatment options to patients.

After obtaining promising data from a phase 1b/2a study in chronic lymphocytic leukemia patients in 2015, the company received a lot of international attention. In February 2016, AstraZeneca acquired a majority share (55%) of Acerta Pharma and is a committed partner for the haematologic oncology field. At the end of October 2017, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted accelerated approval in the US for acalabrutinib for previously treated mantle cell lymphoma (MCL) patients. And in second half of 2019, the FDA approved acalabrutinib for adult patients with Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia and Small Lymphocytic Leukemia.

Acerta Pharma together with AstraZeneca are now working hard towards approval for other countries and for additional therapeutic indications in oncology for this drug.  In addition, AstraZeneca and Acerta are working together on a large number of new small molecule drugs and biologicals aimed at the development of new medications for the treatment of cancer diseases.

If you are interested in this vacancy we would like to kindly ask you to apply and send us your CV and motivation letter by clicking below button.
You can upload your CV and motivation letter at the second page.

If you have questions left, please contact our Recruitment department at or +31(0)85 - 047 0244.

AstraZeneca embraces diversity and equality of opportunity. We are committed to building an inclusive and diverse team representing all backgrounds, with as wide a range of perspectives as possible, and harnessing industry-leading skills. We believe that the more inclusive we are, the better our work will be. We welcome and consider applications to join our team from all qualified candidates, regardless of their characteristics. We comply with all applicable laws and regulations on non-discrimination in employment (and recruitment), as well as work authorisation and employment eligibility verification requirements.

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