Head of Human Therapeutics

Madison, Wisconsin
Competitive Salary and Benefits Package
Aug 02, 2017
Sep 01, 2017
Field of specialization
Pharmaceutical, Toxicological
Job Type
Full time

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking a proven leader in drug discovery and pre-clinical development to build and lead a major new strategic initiative focused on moving UW-Madison innovations in human therapeutics forward to the marketplace.  This is a truly unique and highly visible career opportunity for a proven professional to leverage WARF’s long history of successfully commercializing pharmaceuticals through licensing partnerships with industry, while building new and critically important foundational capabilities in human therapeutics that will enable WARF to dramatically expand those partnerships in the future.  As the pharmaceutical industry increasingly looks to academia to provide IND-enabling assets, WARF has funded and is committed to sustaining a significant drug discovery and pre-clinical development capability to address this need.  WARF’s Head of Human Therapeutics Program will lead this strategically important effort.

The Head of Human Therapeutics Program (HTP) will be responsible for successfully moving potential new pharmaceuticals from assay development to small animal toxicology studies.  WARF’s HTP is based on a virtual drug discovery model. The Head of HTP will utilize both existing UW-Madison capabilities and external resources (CROs, CSOs and CMOs) to lower the risk and improve the value proposition of select assets in WARF’s therapeutics portfolio for prospective licensing and commercialization partners.  The primary focus of WARF’s HTP  is to move select innovations forward in the drug discovery process, from a validated target (where federal research funding typically ends) to where they meet industry standards for lead compound development and thus become strong candidates for in-licensing by partners from big pharma, to mid-level biotech companies and newly formed, venture-funded startups. 

The Head of HTP will provide scientific project leadership and expertise in small molecule drug discovery from high-throughput screening to animal proof-of-concept, including compound selection and optimization, bio-analysis, drug metabolism, pharmacokinetics and toxicology with focus on oncology, metabolic diseases and anti-infectives. The small team of experienced professionals this individual will build and lead will work closely with researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and professional staff at WARF, together with internal and external resources, to produce late-stage lead compounds.

The Head of Human Therapeutics Program core responsibilities include:

  • Maximize opportunities for impact, set strategic direction and provide day-to-day management for WARF’s development stage therapeutics pipeline, including prioritization of portfolio based on assessment of practical viability, value proposition, development time, cost and likelihood of commercial benefit to WARF and the University.
  • Facilitate the coordination and management of internal university and external resources            (CRO, CSO, CMO) to perform screening, medicinal chemistry, bio-analysis, drug metabolism, pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics and toxicology for programs under development.
  • Hire, manage and mentor a small staff of well qualified project managers with pharma development experience.
  • Collaborate with colleagues on WARF’s technology commercialization, legal, and investment teams to assess human therapeutics opportunities, develop project plans for human therapeutics innovations, implement development strategies with internal and external partners, and maximize the value of WARF’s human therapeutics portfolio.
  • Contribute to the preparation of various technical and administrative reports, including those required for marketing and licensing, in compliance with government laws and regulations.
  • Interact effectively with University academic and administrative staff, attorneys, and business professionals in order to facilitate complex collaborative relationships.
  • Recruit and manage Advisory Board to help guide evaluation, selection, and drug discovery priorities for candidate human therapeutics innovations to consist of key opinion leaders and other experts with significant clinical, scientific, regulatory, and business experience in development of commercially successful therapeutics.
  • Manage Governance Board to help guide overall program strategy and performance metrics to be comprised of representatives from WARF’s senior leadership team and Board of Trustees, UW-Madison senior leadership team, and select external partners from industry and other areas, including pharma, biotech, regulatory, and early stage investors.
  • Oversee department personnel, operations, project planning, reporting and budget.


    Drug Discovery-related Experience

  • 10 or more years of industry experience in managing early stage, drug discovery teams.
  • Expertise in small molecule discovery including assay development, high throughput screening; hit-to-lead optimization; establishment of PK/PD relationships; preliminary toxicology studies.
  • Knowledge of FDA regulatory requirements for therapeutics.
  • Knowledge of IP protection, specifically as related to therapeutics.
  • Highly self-motivated and detail-oriented professional with ability to work under pressure and tight deadlines.
  • Other relevant experience a plus: experience in biologics development; experience in technology transfer at a leading research university or medical center

    General Management Skills

  • Successful management of talented, professional staff; personification of a management style that is inclusive and empowers others to succeed; truly team oriented with an ability to collaborate with and support colleagues in reaching institutional goals.
  • Proven skills in building teams, supervising personnel, and completing projects.
  • Proven ability to manage complex, at times multi-party, external collaborations.
  • Excellent written and oral presentation and communication skills, especially to key internal and external stakeholders, e.g., faculty, senior leadership, vendors and potential partner companies.
  • Ability to interact effectively in both academic and corporate cultures.
  • Experience in the biopharmaceutical industry, business, and/or industry-university partnerships, including a clear understanding of these relationships and how they fit the mission of a world-class public university.


  • An advanced degree in a life sciences discipline, with strong preference for a PhD in Chemistry, Pharmacology, Drug Metabolism, Toxicology or a related field. MD and/or MBA a plus.

To apply: Qualified individuals interested in this opportunity are required to submit a cover letter and resume as one document via the online career portal within the career section at: https://warf-researchrecruit.icims.com/jobs/1550/head-of-human-therapeutics-program/

About WARF

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is the private, non-profit foundation established over 90 years ago to perform the technology transfer and commercialization function for the world-class research developed at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Founded in 1925, WARF is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to investing in research and making a difference—for the researcher, the university, commercialization partners and the world. WARF’s mission is to promote, encourage and aid scientific research by patenting and licensing university inventions, playing an active role in UW–Madison spinoff companies, and managing an endowment to support the cycle of research, discovery, commercialization and investment. WARF also manages the Town Center within the Discovery Building, which provides platforms for hands-on activities that link scientific research and the general public, offering a window on the real-time process of discovery. For additional information, please visit: http://www.warf.org

WARF supports an inclusive and diverse environment and offers competitive salary and benefits.