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Head of Applied Physics & Engineering
at Vertex Pharmaceuticals
San Diego, CA

Head of Applied Physics & Engineering
at Vertex Pharmaceuticals
San Diego, CA

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Job Description:

Vertex is seeking a Head of Applied Physics & Engineering to serve as a scientific leader at our San Diego research site. The successful candidate will have a strong record of achievement and innovation (publications, patents, commercial products) to lead an applied physics and instrumentation department. This department consists of ten engineers and four physicists and is tightly integrated into the company's drug discovery and development enterprise. The successful candidate will provide overall scientific guidance and direction to research and engineering projects in the department and serve as a member of the senior leadership team in the research management of the San Diego site.

This group designs, builds and supports the deployment of novel instruments, such as optical detection devices, novel microscopes, automation equipment, and electrophysiology instruments. These instruments are built in small numbers solely to support in house drug discovery research efforts and are not commercialized or manufactured for outside use. This leadership role can be described as 80% innovative idea generation, discussion, refinement and 20% engineering management and is located at their new and state-of the art research facility located in San Diego, California.

The successful candidate will be a curious strategic thinker who can come up with creative ideas to serve the discovery groups and act as the cross-functional interface between drug discovery and the internal physics and engineering teams. Vertex is seeking an individual who is excited about the mission of the company to discover new medicines that transform the lives of patients and their families. This role provides the opportunity for disruptive scientific innovation, and the ability to invent the future within a well-established organization with deep financial resources. He or she will work with an experienced, dedicated and accomplished team who is impacting the organization in a profound way.

The ideal candidate will be fluent in the language of physics, engineering and biology and have the desire to develop cutting-edge technology and incorporate it into the drug discovery platform for the corporation.

The department consists of two groups: applied physics and engineering. The applied physics group consists of high-level scientists trained in MEMS fabrication, atomic & nuclear physics, photonics, and advanced microscopy. The engineering group is comprised of mechanical, electrical, software, applications, and chemical engineers. The two groups interact closely to solve drug discovery problems requiring physics or engineering expertise.


The successful candidate will have the following preferred qualifications:

  • A desire to be part of a highly innovative company aimed at transforming the lives of people with serious diseases, their families and society.
  • PhD level training in biology, physics or engineering with a solid understanding of and interest in the life sciences.
  • Deep understanding of a wide range of physical principles in order to generate and champion novel and innovative ideas for the application of physics and engineering to drug discovery.
  • 10+ years of experience leading a productive and multi-disciplinary academic or industrial physics / engineering R&D group.
  • Demonstrable record of scientific research management, including the ability to mentor junior physicists and to supervise a group of engineers (ME, EE, Software, and Applications).
  • Ability to collaborate with scientists of many disciplines throughout the company on instrumentation and (bio)physical measurement projects, to provide input on related matters, and to effectively communicate physical concepts to non-specialists.
  • Demonstrated ability to interact with senior leaders of other functions throughout Vertex to fruitfully apply physics and instrumentation to drug discovery.
  • Empowering, inclusive and collaborative leader who creates a team culture where everyone is respected, and their scientific opinion is valued.
  • Ability to manage complexity and ambiguity in a highly-matrixed work environment.
  • Ability to thrive in a hands-on, entrepreneurial, dynamic and fast-paced environment and work closely with discovery biologists and chemists.
  • Excellent oral/written communications, influencing and presentation skills
  • Passionate about science, ability to brainstorm and think broadly about potential new applications
  • Previous experience working in a senior R&D leadership role in a drug discovery instrument company or as an academic researcher in a leading-edge laboratory

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