Science Director, Protein Structure: Function and Drug Discovery

Job Location

The position will be based in Princeton, N.J. with occasional travel to CHDI’s other offices in LA and NYC.

Job Reports To

VP of Biology

Job Description

CHDI oversees a portfolio of projects aimed at understanding the natural onset and progression of Huntington’s disease (HD) with the goal of identifying and accelerating bringing therapies to patients.  CHDI’s strategy is anchored on the causal Huntington disease gene and the wild type and mutant huntingtin protein.  The design and execution of experimental investigations of huntingtin protein pathogenic function and its therapeutic modulation is integral to our research strategy.  We seek an accomplished and collaborative scientific problem solver who will bring innovative thinking to strategic priorities, experimental planning and execution of genetic and biochemical investigations of mutant huntingtin protein pathogenesis and develops these findings towards therapeutic programs. The position offers involvement in an innovative model of non-profit rare disease drug discovery and development and participation in an entrepreneurial and collegial work environment with opportunities and resources to contribute significantly to the understanding and treatment of HD.

Role and Responsibilities:

  • Contribute to bringing forward drug discovery candidates with a focus anchored on the wild type (HTT) and mutant Huntingtin (mHTT) protein (pathogenic) function(s)
  • Play a significant role in refining and evolving the strategic plans for experimental investigation of HTT protein function with an initial primary focus on HTT/(m)HTT Post-translational modifications (PTM), enzymes modulating PTMs and protein:protein interactions
  • Manage a collaborative network of contract research and academic scientists engaged in an integrated portfolio of projects to interrogate huntingtin protein function and identify and evolve new collaborations.
  • Explore (m)HTT protein function encompassing genetic and biochemical in vitro investigations with human cells and tissues, mouse and human stem cell platforms, and in vivo studies including genetically modified animal models.
  • Critically design experiments, analyze and synthesize data sets
  • Identify candidate protein therapeutic targets/mechanisms and design and oversee Target validation experimental plans
  • Provide biology co-leadership of integrated Med chem programs with therapeutic relevance to modulating pathogenic HTT dysfunction
  • Advance experimental approaches including established and emerging technologies in cells, tissues, and animals (e.g. yeast two hybrid, antibody/aptamer based technologies, bioinformatics, genome and protein engineering, protein labeling, and mass spectroscopy).
  • Contribute as a member of a multidisciplinary team to the evaluation, prioritization, and implementation of biophysical, biochemical, and proteomics platforms.
  • Participate in internal and external team meetings to evaluate and advance the validation of targets, outcome measures, and models for (HD) drug discovery
  • Pro-actively identify, source, and integrate capabilities and competencies for current and future programs in the areas of protein function,  new assay development, and candidate drug molecule candidates for therapeutic advancement
  • High level management/oversight of external contract research organizations, biotechnology collaborators, and academic laboratories
  • Participate in internal and external scientific reviews
  • Fulfill necessary process, legal, and business requirements to enable our scientific efforts
  • Communicate the state-of-the art opportunities protein function to accelerate an understanding of HD biology and candidates for treatments to internal and external parties
  • Engage collaboratively with internal team members and external partners


The candidate of choice will have:

  • A D. in life sciences and relevant postdoctoral training
  • A minimum of 5 years of experience as an independent scientist with applied and drug discovery relevance
  • A track record of scientific accomplishment as evidenced by publications in refereed journals and securing of investigator proposed research funding support
  • Expertise in molecular biology
  • Expertise in investigating protein post-translational modifications and upstream signaling cascades and PTM modifying enzymes (kinases, phosphatases, acetylases etc.)
  • Experience and accomplishment in elucidating protein complexes and their cellular function(s)
  • Knowledge and experience in the design and characterization of protein isolation and characterization technologies
  • Experience with proteomics and mass spectroscopy experimental design data analysis
  • Significant experience in planning and conducting in vitro, in vivo, and ex vivo genetic, biochemical and pharmacologic perturbation studies directed towards elucidating protein biological mechanism of action, optimally with experience in the central nervous system and neurodegeneration
  • Drug discovery experience in validating targets for therapeutic advancement including program advancement of integrated med chem optimization programs with clinical trajectory
  • Familiarity with contemporary ‘omics technology platforms and data analyses
  • Demonstrated ability to identify, design, and drive innovative programs and demonstrated evidence of scientific “problem solving”
  • Strong analytical skills, critical reasoning, and scientific rigor
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills, and effective interpersonal skills necessary for the coordination of a large network of external global collaborators
  • Demonstrated ability to work collaboratively in a technical, interdisciplinary team oriented environment and with external academic and industrial partners
  • Evidence of being highly self-motivated and an ability to work independently
  • Ability to travel to the CHDI Los Angeles CA office as well globally and nationally to interact with collaborators

Preferred Skills:

A compelling candidate would also have:

  • Experience in the biopharmaceutical sector
  • Experience working on Huntington’s disease and/or other neurodegenerative diseases
  • Neuroscience knowledge and expertise
  • Experience in assay development and adaptation to high throughput biology with experience in enzymology
  • Experience in contributing efficacy and translational data for IND filing packages
  • Productive history of having accountability for managing/overseeing external collaborators and collaborations
  • Training and knowledge in biophysical and structural biology
  • Familiarity with computational protein modeling
  • Training and knowledge in genetics
  • Experience in bioinformatics mining

Please send CV to