AbbVie Pharmacyclics Head of Biology in Sunnyvale, California

Head of Biology

Location: Sunnyvale, CA

# of Openings: 1


Head of Biology

Pharmacyclics LLC, An AbbVie Company

Pharmacyclicsis an AbbVie company focused on developing and commercializing innovative small-molecule therapies for the treatment of certain cancers and immune-mediated diseases. Our mission is to change the standard of care for the disease areas we treat or study to continually advance cancer care for patients. Pharmacyclics and its partner Janssen Biotech, developed and commercialize IMBRUVICA® (ibrutinib), a first-in-class, oral, once-daily therapy that inhibits Bruton's tyrosine kinase, a signaling molecule critical for the survival and spread of malignant B cells. IMBRUVICA has four Breakthrough Therapy Designations and eight FDA approvals in six diseases.

When we place passionate, intelligent and innovative individuals within a culture that inspires their creativity and values their insights, amazing achievements continue to happen. That’s how we do things at Pharmacyclics. After all, when a company is developing novel, life-changing therapies that are revolutionizing patient care, you need unique modes of action. In all we do, we enable the impossible and ensure that mediocrity is not an option. We strive to develop and commercialize novel therapies that make a dramatic, positive difference in the lives of patients. That takes bold vision and a well-defined mission. We create an environment that enables our employees to do the best work of their careers as they contribute their expertise toward developing cures for disease areas with significant unmet medical needs.

The Head of Biologywill build, strengthen and lead a research department at the forefront of modern cancer biology. In this role, you will act as the strategic leader for oncology research at Pharmacyclics and are responsible for all biological activities from disease mechanisms, target identification/validation, small molecule drug discovery, preclinical translational research, IND filing through to MOA and resistance studies of clinical assets, especially in the areas of B cell malignancies and immune oncology. Reporting to the Head of Discovery and located in Sunnyvale, California, this position will play a key leadership role in our discovery process and will work collaboratively with Chemistry, DMPK, Pharmacology, Preclinical Development, Clinical and Regulatory Departments. The Pharmacyclics research team is undergoing a phase of rapid expansion and you are expected to contribute to pipeline and organizational strategies, oversight recruitment of key research leaders and deliver innovative small molecule assets under aggressive timeline to further enhance our leadership position in hematological malignancies.

The ideal candidateshould have a passion for science and medicine and a track-record of identifying and progressing novel targets to clinical candidates. As a creative scientist and a critical thinker, this leader should have a deep understanding of pathophysiology of B cell malignancies and mechanism of immune action and a stellar record in disease biology research and oncology target discovery. As a skilled organizational leader, this individual should be an efficient manager, an effective team builder and a productive collaborator who will provide strong organizational, technological and scientific leadership of the molecular discovery research to support disease biology study, lead generation, lead optimization, clinical candidate selection and the ensuing clinical studies. A strong track record on scientific and operational excellence is required.


  • Develop and implement Research Strategy

  • Lead the investigation of disease biology and identification/validation of new drug targets and execute efficient preclinical lead optimization and translational biology, incorporating target engagement and functional biomarkers of drug action

  • Identify, engage, and ensure the success of research collaboration across AbbVie’s global network and the external scientific community.

  • Keep up-to-date with the latest scientific advancements (e.g. competitive landscape, new technologies and partnerships) and is well informed about current trend in oncology and immune oncology research and development to deliver the next generation of oncology discovery concepts.

  • Propose and evaluate preclinical/clinical in-licensing candidates that will have synergy with the internal pipeline.

  • Work with the Discovery leadership team to allocate appropriate resources to ensure timely achievement of pipeline and technology goals.

  • Set departmental scientific and business goals and manages people, resource, financial budget and other administrative functions.

  • Provide day-to-day scientific, technical and organizational leadership for the research teams and manage a portfolio of discovery projects to achieve scientific and operational excellence.

  • Lead expansion of research team by hiring top talents. Develop and empower talent within the department.

  • Develop a science-driven goal-oriented culture with innovation, accountability, transparency, empowerment and agility.

  • Collaborate with senior management to manage company operations and ensure compliance.


  • PhD in Life Sciences or equivalent with a minimum of 12 years of relevant industrial/academic experience in oncology positions of increasing responsibility.

  • Demonstrated expertise in all areas of small molecule drug discovery from disease biology, target identification through preclinical research, including in vitro/in vivo assays, mechanism of action, biomarker, and PK/PD/Tox studies.

  • Experience in leading a mid-sized biology/drug discovery group of > 15 people in a biotechnology or pharmaceutical company. Proven record in developing people and fostering creativity, productivity, accountability and execution with a sense of urgency.

  • Experience in strategic planning, project leadership, laboratory and budget management in a matrixed organization. Decisive problem solver with ability to balance creativity, innovation and probability of success.

  • Proven scientific leadership and track record of scientific innovation and accomplishment in disease biology research and oncology target discovery as evidenced by quality and quantity of publications, patents and conference presentations.

  • Demonstrated success in delivering oncology clinical candidates into development.

  • Track record of developing efficient discovery processes and leading complex cross-functional team collaborations, including managing relationships with academic collaborators and CROs.

  • Self-starter with strong scientific curiosity and rigor, excellent interpersonal and analytic skills, high ethical standards and outstanding written and verbal communication skills.

  • A desire to be part of a highly innovative, dynamic and growing company aimed at providing the Magic of Normal to cancer patients and their families.


Pharmacyclics is prepared to offer the successful candidate a competitive compensation and benefit package commensurate with the important of this position.

Equal Opportunity Employer Minorities/Women/Veterans/Disabled