Job description

Principal Scientist, Medicinal Chemistry


Every Exelixis employee is united in an ambitious cause: to launch innovative medicines that give patients, and their families hope for the future. In this pursuit, we know our employees are our most valuable asset. After operating in the challenging biotech sector for 25 years, we have a proven track record of resiliency in the face of adversity. The success of our lead product has provided a solid commercial foundation allowing us to reinvigorate our research efforts and grow our team in areas such as Drug Discovery, Clinical Development and Commercial.

As we expand our global partnerships and further reinvest in R&D to help us discover the next breakthrough for difficult-to-treat cancers, we’re seeking to add talented, dedicated employees to power our mission.

Cancer is our cause. Make it yours, too.

SUMMARY: Seeking a highly skilled and motivated senior level medicinal chemist to join our small molecule drug discovery team. The ideal candidate will be an exceptional medicinal chemistry leader, overseeing a team of internal and external medicinal chemists that design and synthesize novel compounds for portfolio projects. The ideal candidate will be a cross-functional team co-leader, partnering with other functional leaders to drive forward all aspects of a drug discovery project.


  • Drive medicinal chemistry projects from target validation and chemical equity identification to lead optimization and drug candidate selection, optimizing all aspects of molecular properties, including on- and off-target activities and selectivity, ADME, PK, PD, and safety profiles.

  • Provide scientific leadership to medicinal chemistry team members. Mentor and coach as appropriate on SAR analysis, compound design, and synthetic route design, optimization and troubleshooting.

  • Collaborate in a cross-functional team with structural biologists and computational chemists to leverage state of the art SBDD and CADD techniques to drive molecular designs.

  • Collaborate cross-functionally with biology, DMPK, and safety representatives to advance high quality compounds as drug candidates.

  • Present and actively participate in project and departmental research meetings.

  • Properly maintain laboratory notebooks in accordance with company policies and practices.

  • Comply with safe laboratory practices and EH&S guidelines. Promote a culture of safety in the laboratory.

  • Author technical documents, patent applications, and scientific manuscripts, as well as prepare and present at scientific conferences.


  • Direct and matrix reporting responsibilities in line with portfolio and team growth.

  • Partner with CRO to direct synthetic resources to complement in-house synthesis.



  • PhD in related discipline and a minimum of 5 years of related industrial medicinal chemistry experience; or,

  • Master’s degree in related discipline and a minimum of 9 years of related industrial medicinal chemistry experience; or,

  • Bachelor’s degree in related discipline and a minimum of 11 years of related industrial medicinal chemistry experience; or,

  • Equivalent combination of education and industrial medicinal chemistry experience.


  • Forging productive partnerships with key stakeholders, including computational chemistry, biology, DMPK, and toxicology in order to form productive and agile project teams.

  • Direct supervisory experience and in matrix organizations.

  • Extensive synthetic organic and medicinal chemistry knowledge, including experimental techniques, theories, and best practices, including experience in multiple disease and target classes.

  • Demonstrated independent thought and creativity in science resulting in the delivery of optimized, high-quality drug candidates, as evidenced by peer reviewed publications and/or patent applications.

  • Experienced and knowledgeable in all aspects of drug discovery, including structure-based drug design, as well as a working understanding of related disciplines.

  • Extensive experience in target compound design and synthetic pathway design.

  • Fluency working with computers including MS Word, MS PowerPoint and MS Excel required.


  • Strong organic and medicinal chemistry bench skills and ability to execute in the lab. Detailed knowledge of state-of-art synthetic chemistry techniques, purification methods, and analytical techniques.

  • Comprehensive understanding of current approaches in medicinal chemistry and the ability to incorporate them into a drug discovery program.

  • Extensive knowledge of drug discovery-related intellectual property matters.

  • Able to set goals with understanding of priority and impact to program, department, and organization.

  • Able to apply advanced scientific and technical principles, theories, and concepts, and to contribute to the development of new principles and concepts.

  • Excellent problem solving and SAR analysis skills.

  • Skilled at the effective use of scientific literature and chemical/scientific databases.

  • Able to initiate program efforts and work effectively with internal and external stakeholders.

  • Strong interpersonal skills, flexible, and works well within and contributes to a positive team environment.

  • Excellent written and verbal communication skills.


  • As a subject matter expert, has an in-depth knowledge of medicinal chemistry and has a detailed understanding of cross functional disciplines.

  • Works on complex problem solving where analysis of situations or data requires an evaluation of intangible variables.

  • Works effectively and flexibly in a fast-paced team environment that is growing and evolving, requiring regular prioritization of projects to achieve pipeline deliverables.

  • Exercises independent judgment in developing methods, techniques, and evaluation criteria to deliver results.


If you like wild growth and working with happy, enthusiastic over-achievers, you'll enjoy your career with us!

Our compensation reflects the cost of labor across several U.S. geographic markets, and we pay differently based on those defined markets. The base pay range for this position is $131,500 - $195,500 annually. The base pay range may take into account the candidate’s geographic region, which will adjust the pay depending on the specific work location. The base pay offered will take into account the candidate’s geographic region, job-related knowledge, skills, experience and internal equity, among other factors.

In addition to the base salary, as part of our Total Rewards program, Exelixis offers comprehensive employee benefits package, including a 401k plan with generous company contributions, group medical, dental and vision coverage, life and disability insurance, and flexible spending accounts. Employees are also eligible for a discretionary annual bonus program, or if field sales staff, a sales-based incentive plan. Exelixis also offers employees the opportunity to purchase company stock, and receive long-term incentives, 15 accrued vacation days in their first year, 17 paid holidays including a company-wide winter shutdown in December, and up to 10 sick days throughout the calendar year.

The preceding job description has been designed to indicate the general nature and level of work performed by employees within this classification.  It is not designed to contain or be interpreted as a comprehensive inventory of all duties, responsibilities and qualifications required of employees assigned to the job.

We are an Equal Opportunity Employer and do not discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, status as a veteran, and basis of disability or any other federal, state or local protected class.

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