Job Description. 

Cajal is seeking a Head of Drug Discovery, motivated by Cajal’s mission to develop new medicines for patients with neurodegenerative disorders. Our team members thrive on getting things done, and eagerly navigate the uncertainty of an ever-changing and fast-paced environment in a pre-clinical biotech company.  

As a Head of Drug Discovery at Cajal, you will lead the company’s drug discovery pipeline across multiple modalities including small molecules, biologics, and ASOs.  You will also be a key member of Cajal’s leadership team, helping determine and set the overall strategic direction of the company.


  • Set overall strategy for selection of targets and selection of modality for drug discovery programs.
  • Lead the strategic planning and management of Cajal’s discovery pipeline.
  • Design, execute, analyze, interpret, and present experiments to lead a portfolio of programs through various stages of drug discovery (lead ID → lead optimization → drug candidate → IND).
  • Oversee pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic experiments
  • Act as a bridge between Preclinical Biology (Target Discovery / Validation) and Clinical Development groups. 
  • Work closely with Clinical Development to file IND applications and initiate clinical trials. 
  • Help recruit and mentor chemists and in vitro & in vivo pharmacologists.
  • Manage a network of external partners and CROs to support ongoing programs.
  • Interact with external thought leaders, including advisory boards, to support drug development efforts.
  • Actively participate in strategic planning, internal and external partnering, and financing discussions, as well as presentations to the Board of Directors

This job might be great for you if you have:

  • PhD or MD with strong background in neuroscience (and especially neurodegenerative disease).
  • 10+ years of drug discovery experience within industry, across a range of modalities (required). 
  • Track record of advancing small molecule, ASO and biologics discovery programs from target validation through lead optimization and into successful submission of IND applications.
  • Demonstrated ability to evaluate, interpret, and present complex scientific data, deep knowledge of PK/PD, particularly in the CNS.
  • A talent for building and maintaining high-performing teams, with a focus on developing leaders on all levels
  • Experience leading CROs and other external consultants
  • Excellent knowledge of the competitive environment for drugs and relevant biological pathways in neurodegeneration and related therapeutic areas
  • The energy, flexibility, and resourcefulness to both lead a big-vision strategy and be hands on
  • Are science- and data-driven, detail-oriented and thrive in a highly collaborative, team-oriented startup environment


Cajal is a well-funded team of experienced scientists looking to solve one of the most vexing problems in drug discovery: how to model and treat complex diseases of the brain. We are applying high throughput microscopy, functional genetic screening, and multi-omics approaches to identify new drug targets and therapeutics for neurodegenerative diseases.  This is a rare opportunity to lead at an early stage, well-funded biotechnology company developing next-generation therapies. 

Medical, dental, & vision coverage for employees and their families with competitive compensation based on experience level. Cajal Neuroscience is an equal opportunity company. We believe we are a team of people first, and we do our best to make sure all of our team members feel supported and connected at work. Come join us in our newly designed offices in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

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