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Director, Medicinal Chemistry

Status: Archived
CompanyZai Lab
LocationCambridge, MA or San Diego, CA
How to Apply

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Company Description

(Cambridge, MA or San Diego, CA)

Zai Lab Limited (NASDAQ: ZLAB; HKEX: 9688) is an innovative, research-based, commercial-stage biopharmaceutical company based in China and the United States focused on bringing transformative medicines for oncology, autoimmune disorders, infectious diseases, and neurological disorders to patients in China and around the world. Our goal is to leverage our competencies and resources to positively impact human health worldwide.

Founded in 2014, our experienced team has secured partnerships with leading global biopharmaceutical companies, generating a broad and late-stage pipeline of innovative drug candidates. Based on our proven track record of success, Zai Lab has earned the reputation as a trusted partner of choice for global biopharmaceutical companies seeking to not only access the Chinese market but also find a long-term strategic partner for global clinical development.  Our unique business model builds on our in-licensed assets and innovative partnerships to expand our internal discovery and development capabilities and has created a portfolio of potential best-in-class and/or first-in-class therapies. Zai currently has four products on the market in China

Zai Lab was successfully listed on the Nasdaq Stock Market in September 2017 and completed secondary listing on Hong Kong Stock Exchange in September 2020. In 2022, Zai Lab became dual-primary listed on both the Nasdaq and the Hong Kong Stock Exchanges. Since its inception, Zai Lab has expanded significantly with several offices across China. In 2021, Zai Lab established its U.S. Headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  As of January 2022, the Company has a global team of approximately 2000 employees.

Job Description

(Cambridge, MA or San Diego, CA)

The Director of Medicinal Chemistry manages a group of internal or/and external chemists to advance discovery projects from initial hit generation, lead optimization to the identification of clinical drug candidates.  He/she partners with other discovery functions to generate new discovery initiatives/projects with the potential to become BIC and/or FIC development candidate to support the Zai Lab’s discovery goals.

  • Lead internal/external medicinal chemists to execute on discovery projects.
  • Lead discovery project(s) and work effectively with other discovery functions to achieve project goals.
  • Work closely with computational chemist/modeler to design effective compounds to address project need (potency, ADMET, etc.).
  • Ensure high productivity of external chemistry FTEs by providing timely synthetic chemistry direction.
    • Responsible for the quality of deliverables from CRO.
    • Responsible for record keeping of external work under his/her management
  • Take the lead and contribute to intellectual property, manuscript generation, and external presentations at scientific conferences.
  • Generate new research proposals/projects in therapeutic areas of interest of Zai Lab.
  • Key contributor in generating SAR ideas to advance research projects.
  • Work closely with patent attorney(s) to ensure intellectual property protection.



  • Ph.D. in chemistry with eight years’ biopharma experience, and with oncology experience; or equivalent combination of higher education, training and experience. 


  • Proven track record of success in bringing small molecules into development
  • Demonstrated medicinal and synthetic chemistry skill via publications of peer reviewed articles
  • Experience in managing overseas CRO FTEs and integrating external research effort with internal activities to align with project team goals
  • Willingness to work flexible hours to provide CRO FTEs timely guidance
  • Demonstrated good decision-making and prioritization capability in managing multiple projects/tasks and meeting deliverable timelines
  • Proven skill to solve difficult scientific problems
  • Demonstrated capability to work in a multi-disciplinary team environment, assertive on science but open-minded to different views
  • Demonstrated excellent oral and written communication skills

Zai Lab US requires all employees who are working onsite or who are in customer facing positions to be vaccinated against COVID-19 (subject to any legally required exemptions)

Additional Information

The pay range for this position at commencement of employment is expected to be between $215k and $251k/year; however, base pay offered may vary depending on multiple individualized factors, including market location, job-related knowledge, skills, and experience. The total compensation package for this position may also include other elements, including a sign-on bonus, restricted stock units, and discretionary awards in addition to a full range of medical, financial, and/or other benefits (including 401(k) eligibility and various paid time off benefits, such as vacation, sick time, and parental leave), dependent on the position offered. Details of participation in these benefit plans will be provided if an employee receives an offer of employment.

If hired, employee will be in an “at-will position” and the Company reserves the right to modify base salary (as well as any other discretionary payment or compensation program) at any time, including for reasons related to individual performance, Company or individual department/team performance, and market factors.

At Zai, we are proud of the gender diversity of our company and our promotion of women in biotech. We have achieved gender base pay equity at all levels, 58% of our employees are women and 54% of our management positions are held by women. We are committed to the health of patients and our planet. That’s why our environmental protection, social responsibility, and corporate governance strategy, called “Trust for Life” is integrated within our business.

Disclaimer: This description is not intended to be construed as an exhaustive list of duties, responsibilities, or requirement for the position. All personnel may be required to perform duties outside of their normal responsibilities from time to time, as needed.

All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, sex, color, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, protected veteran status, or based on disability.

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