Director, Head of Biology

at WARF - Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation
Location Madison, Wisconsin
Date Posted June 22, 2021
Category Bioscience
Job Type Full-time
Address 614 Walnut Street, 13th floor


The Organization

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is the private, non-profit foundation established 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:

The Opportunity

The Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF) is seeking an exceptional, innovative, and highly motivated Director, Head of Biology to provide leadership to each of the portfolio programs within WARF Therapeutics. This individual will partner with the Head of Chemistry to provide scientific project leadership and expertise in small molecule drug discovery from target validation through to clinical candidate nomination utilizing a virtual drug discovery model. The ideal candidate will collaborate across many organizations including the University of Wisconsin-Madison, WARF, contract research organizations (CRO’s), and biopharma companies to execute on the pipeline objectives.

This is a truly unique and highly visible career opportunity for a proven professional to contribute to the design and building of the WARF Therapeutics organization.  The successful candidate will leverage WARF’s long history of successfully commercializing pharmaceuticals, to create a pipeline of pre-clinical assets that will be partnered with biotechs, VCs and large pharma companies. As the pharmaceutical industry increasingly looks to academia to provide high-quality drug candidates to novel validated targets, WARF has funded and is committed to sustaining a significant drug discovery and pre-clinical development capability to address this need.

The Director, Head of Biology core responsibilities include:

  • Co-lead each portfolio program with the Head of Chemistry to progress programs from target validation through discovery and nomination of the pre-clinical candidate.
  • Through CROs, lead efforts for protein production, enzymatic/cellular assay development/implementation, high-throughput screening & hit validation.
  • Update portfolio progress to the WARF Therapeutics’ Advisory Board
  • Integrate complex data sets across multiple research disciplines.
  • Apply inter-disciplinary knowledge of drug discovery to effectively design in vivo experiments (PK/PD, efficacy, and toxicology).
  • Collaborate with colleagues on WARF’s technology commercialization, legal, new ventures 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 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.


  • A PhD in biology, cell-biology, biochemistry or a related field with a minimum of 7 years of industry drug discovery experience is preferred.
  • In depth understanding of cancer biology / signaling pathway is strongly preferred.
  • Broad drug discovery expertise including protein production, assay development, high throughput screening, biomarker development, and designing complex pharmacology/toxicology studies.
  • Experience in leading programs and cross-functional teams.
  • Track record of driving discovery programs to key pre-clinical Go/No-Go decision points; from target validation, hit-to-lead, lead optimization and including clinical candidate nomination.
  • Extensive experience interfacing with and providing scientific guidance to CRO partners, proven ability to work efficiently in a virtual model.
  • Highly self-motivated, independent, and detail-oriented professional with ability to work under pressure and tight deadlines.
  • Ability to independently solve problems, to think critically and creatively as part of a fast-paced research team.
  • 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.


Click here to learn more & apply today!