Drug design and selection

Female scientist in a lab

Programme overview

Drug design and selection (DDS) supports the therapeutic areas within GSK. It contributes to the discovery of new medicines through the collaborative identification of disease-linked targets and the selection of molecules for future drug development. We are responsible for delivering scientific expertise and specific platform capabilities to ensure that GSK is able to deliver the best potential medicines.

Biological Mass Spectrometry (UK)

Discovery Analytical Sciences is seeking a highly motivated graduate to join the Biological Mass Spectrometry team. This newly created role requires you to work as part of a multi-disciplinary team to design and execute analytical strategies to support biology and biochemistry in the discovery phases of an R&D project.

The Biological Mass Spectrometry team supports activities ranging from structural biology to mechanistic enzymology. The development and support of assays to measure both proteins and small molecules in vitro and in vivo is a key component of the groups remit.

In addition, the successful candidate will actively pursue the development and implementation of new mass spectrometry-based technologies that will enhance our ability to more rapidly discover molecules and more thoroughly evaluate them in a relevant biological context.  It is expected that the person filling this position will publish independent and collaborative research in peer reviewed journals.

We are looking for candidates who can make outstanding long-term contributions to our organisation. The ideal candidate is driven, curious and can easily build relationships with others; easily adapt to different situations and environments, learn fast, is proactive, result-oriented and driven by challenges and, most importantly, share GSK Values and Expectations.

What do we look for in a candidate?

  • An innovative mind and the ability to solve problems
  • Ability to adapt to change
  • Keep focused when the pressure is on
  • An ability to assimilate information and prioritise even outside your area of expertise
  • Desire to interact with different parts of the business
  • A team player who actively collaborates with others
  • Must have a PhD in Chemistry, Biochemistry or Biology where the emphasis of your research was using mass spectrometry to solve problems in biology or biochemistry
  • Hands-on experience with biology and biochemistry laboratory techniques
  • Interest in data analytics and computational approaches to data analysis

For this UK-based role, you must have a willingness to work internationally as during the programme you may spend up to 6-12 months abroad.

What you will do 

  • Work with a multidisciplinary team of chemists, analytical scientists and biologists to discover new drug molecules and understand how they influence their targets.
  • Design and execute label free, mass spec-based biochemical and cellular assays.
  • Use state of the art mass spectrometry techniques to explore structural biology and protein modifications.
  • Seek out, evaluate and implement novel automation and sample introduction technologies for mass spectrometry analysis of protein, peptides and small molecules.
  • Deliver high quality data to enable early decision making for target and compound progression
  • Contribute and take a role in defining the analytical strategy to support discovery biology.
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Discovery Computational Scientist (US)

What to expect on the Drug Design and Selection Future Leader Programme:

You will undertake 3-6 rotations within GSK to become familiar with all aspects of computational modelling in drug discovery, from molecular design to systems modelling applied to pharmacology and toxicology. The exact rotations will be highly individualised for the successful candidate, aiming to complement the candidates skills and match their interests. These rotations will provide you with the knowledge, technical capability and confidence to be highly successful in the position and beyond.  During this time, you will have the opportunity to interact with other graduates for training and networking events.  You will also undertake a number of core training and personal development courses to quickly bring you up to speed with GSK values and expectations.

This role sits within the Computational Modelling Sciences (CMS) line in DDS within the Systems modelling and translational biology (SMTB) department.

The SMTB group uses mathematical modelling and simulation to address the relationships between drug properties, its disposition and the pharmacological and toxicological response to translate from in-vitro and in-vivo preclinical species to humans. This involves the integration and interpretation of data from many sources to help drive project decisions.

Working in a dynamic, multidisciplinary environment, the successful candidate will develop, calibrate and use large scale Quantitative Systems Pharmacology/Toxicology models linked with drug pharmacokinetics, linking mechanistic drug disposition with target biology and clinical outcomes for various diseases.

This position is an exciting opportunity to make a difference in the lives of patients by applying mechanism based mathematical modelling, coupled with biological knowledge, to drive drug discovery and development.

The wider CMS line is responsible for applying the principle of ‘predict-first’ to drive design and development of the best molecules, modalities, and delivery routes at the right biological intervention points, in order to bring safe and effective medicines to patients.  The FLP program would give the opportunity for a hands-on experience in various lines such as:

  • Systems modelling and translational biology
  • Molecular design
  • Computational toxicology
  • Protein design
  • Mechanistic safety and disposition
  • Screening profiling and mechanistic biology
  • Computational biology

Responsibilities of a Discovery Computational Scientist:

  • Awareness of a wide variety of modelling approaches, from system level mechanistic modelling to structure-based design and molecular modelling, and from to machine learning to network modelling
  • Proficient in at least one modelling approach
  • Awareness of the various in-vitro and in-vivo experimental techniques and assays used in drug discovery and development
  • Responsible for imbedding a “predict first” culture by ensuring the most appropriate modelling approach is applied to every program and the best experimental designs are used to validate model predictions and enable best program decisions
  • Developing appropriate models and applying them to impact the progression of drug development programs
  • Peer review modelling work from colleagues as appropriate, insuring high quality standards for the modelling work
  • Build, expand and refine the modelling capabilities and software platforms
  • Provide consultancy and training resources to embed a “predict first” culture across R&D
  • Exceptional collaborative behaviours to build and maintain relationships with R&D therapy area scientists, as well as the wider modelling community in GSK
  • Promote and increase the reputation of the modelling internally within R&D and externally, including regulatory agencies

What do we look for in a candidate?

  • Learning agility - demonstrated ability to quickly become proficient in new areas of science
  • Scientific curiosity and out of the box thinker
  • Experience in applying computational modelling techniques in life sciences
  • Expertise in scientific computing and programming
  • Experience in influencing decisions and experimental design by using appropriate modeling approaches that integrate all available data
  • Familiarity with the challenges of drug discovery and forward thinking with respect to the general application of computational modeling in discovery and development
  • Evidence of developing self and others
  • Evidence of identifying, developing, and applying innovative solutions to scientific and technological problems faced in computational modeling
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills and the ability to interact effectively with scientists in other disciplines with a positive, collegial, collaborative attitude
  • Successfully leading in a matrix environment, working across functions/disciplines.
  • Must have a PhD/Advanced degree degree in chemical, mechanical or biomedical engineering, physics, applied mathematics, scientific computing or related field
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The stages/ rotations

A minimum of three rotations within the DDS function. Rotations are chosen to meet the needs of the business and your aspirations.

You will be part of a vibrant, global scientific community, you’ll work in teams that combine a mix of disciplines.  You’ll contribute to multidisciplinary teams that deliver therapeutic strategies to address specific disease areas.  You’ll never be far from an expert who can help you to learn, grow and contribute to our business, and you’ll be coached and mentored to become a technical leader of the future.

What happens next
As this is a new role at GSK, we are excited to work with our graduates to tailor and influence the direction of the programme. Our graduates will offboard in roles where they are working to ensure that we are able to deliver the best potential medicines for development.


For 2019, we are open for applications in the US (Upper Providence) and UK (Stevenage).  The UK-based role may include a rotation in the US.

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