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Head of Translational Biology

Position Description

Juvena Therapeutics is seeking a talented scientific strategist and experienced people leader to lead their Discovery platform expansion and Nonclinical Development of lead candidates. We are searching for individuals who are excited to work as a leader in an intimate and small team focused on the discovery, preclinical validation, and clinical translation of novel biologics for chronic and rare degenerative diseases across multiple therapeutic areas such as inflammatory, hepatic, and metabolic related diseases. This position would oversee the R&D strategy. This person would oversee the discovery, phenotype-based screening, target validation, and protein engineering efforts at Juvena, managing the secretome library creation, human phenotypic screening assays, bioanalytical assays, and preclinical rodent disease model studies.

The Head of Translational Biology will work closely with department heads across data science, preclinical, and clinical teams to expand Juvena’s platform for unraveling secretome biology to develop novel disease-modifying biologics. The Head of Translational Biology will work collaboratively to establish a robust protein drug screening platform and preclinical biologics pipeline for multiple indications, driving hit generation, lead selection and indication selection, and development of pre-IND data packages. The Head of Translational Biology will support grant applications, reports, and manuscript preparations. Reporting to the CSO, the Head of Translational Biology will be an integral member of the Scientific Leadership Team and will be involved in all Juvena’s programs plus be involved in establishing external R&D partnerships with academic institutions and technology partners. The candidate should have industry experience in a drug discovery and development setting and have managed or been involved in high throughput screening, lead and indication selection, and IND-enabling studies for biologics.

Company Summary

Juvena Therapeutics is on a mission to discover and develop biologics for rare and chronic degenerative diseases by mining the secretomes of human pluripotent stem cells through a machine learning (ML)-enhanced platform. Juvena’s approach integrates proteomics, transcriptomics and imaging with phenotypic human in vitro disease model screening and extensive preclinical validation to mine stem cell secretomes as a rich source of new medicines for chronic and rare diseases. We are advancing leads for muscular dystrophies, muscle atrophy, injury, osteopathies, and new programs targeting additional degenerative diseases affecting other human organs. Since our launch in mid-2018, Juvena has discovered and validated 22 hits for neuromuscular, skeletal, and metabolic diseases. Juvena is advancing a lead program for Myotonic Dystrophy Type 1, a rare autosomal dominant, progressive muscle-wasting disease.

Juvena Therapeutics has secured >$47M in venture capital, NIH, and CIRM funding to develop their top lead to a clinical-stage investigational new drug, to build their stem cell secretome database, and to leverage their discovery platform to rapidly identify and validate novel protein-based drug candidates for multiple rare and chronic diseases across inflammatory, cardiometabolic and hepatic therapeutic areas. At Juvena we embrace a diversity of backgrounds, experience and approaches that all combine to lead us to world-class scientific results in an inclusive environment.

Major Responsibilities

  • Lead the indication selection and prioritization efforts to identify therapeutic areas with strong clinical and regulatory paths to clinic for Juvena to expand its protein drug discovery and preclinical development platform 
  • Lead efforts to expand Juvena’s platform screening capabilities across multiple organ model systems, integrating the latest in bioinformatics, computational and machine learning approaches for in silico, in vitro, and in vivo screening, ensuring the discovery team is working collaboratively with the data science team to advance the platform and support hit generation, target identification, and MOA studies.  
  • Identify and source preclinical and clinical KOLs to advise Juvena for therapeutic areas of interest 
  • Contribute to go/no go decisions for lead selection, lead optimization and preclinical development paths                            
  • Develop and progress projects from hit generation, lead selection, target validation, lead optimization, pharmacology, and through to the initiation of IND-enabling studies for biologics, internally and externally via CRO project management across all phases of Juvena’s discovery and development
  • Collaborate with Research, Pharmacology, Bioanalytical, Engineering, Manufacturing, and Quality/Reg CMC colleagues across the company and externally to advance Juvena’s platform and pipeline
  • Communicate scientific data internally and externally, authoring/reviewing study reports and regulatory documentation, contributing to high impact scientific manuscripts, identifying & managing external research collaborations, and engaging with scientific advisors and consultants                       
  • Provide strategic and scientific leadership as part of cross-functional research teams
  • Serve as an internal subject matter expert for the design, execution, and interpretation of discovery and pharmacology experiments
  • Manage, guide, and mentor the discovery and protein engineering teams. 
  • Interact with and manage the in vivo pharmacology team to support target validation and efficacy assessment of potential developmental candidates. Support the planning of in-house and outsourced pharmacology activities
  • Provide support and guidance for in vitro and in vivo assays that may be conducted with external academic/industry collaborators and with CROs
  • Present at group, company, and external meetings/conferences
  • Contribute to a dynamic and exciting culture that embraces teamwork and innovation
  • Keep current with clinical advances in the company’s therapeutic interest areas
  • Flexible support of multiple discovery, platform development and preclinical projects as the company grows

Position Requirements and Experience 

  • PhD with 10+ years of industry experience in drug discovery and development setting
  • Demonstrated ability to advance programs from discovery through lead identification and IND with biologics such as fusion proteins, bispecifics, antibody or antibody drug conjugate molecules, preferably in the regenerative medicine space, and inflammatory, cardiovascular, metabolic disease areas  
  • Deep understanding of bioinformatics and machine learning applications for drug discovery, target identification and validation, lead selection, lead optimization, and in vivo pharmacology and strong track record of driving research stage programs into the clinic
  • Experience in GMP/GLP documentation and IND filing
  • Established track record of leadership in discovery and preclinical development projects
  • Established record of leading cross-functional discovery and development teams with both internal and external partners in multiple IND-enabling areas including protein engineering, antibody discovery, bioanalytical assay development, safety/toxicology and pharmacology 
  • Experience interfacing with multiple key stakeholders in a dynamic environment to enable real-time prioritization
  • Strong communication skills
  • Highly self-motivated and driven to succeed 
  • Prior success with research in a hands-on, highly collaborative growth environment
  • The ability to work effectively both independently and as part of multidisciplinary team in a fast-paced environment
  • Organized, detail-oriented, and a self-starter who continuously seeks innovative solutions
  • Intellectually curious; eager to brainstorm and test potential answers to tough technical questions
  • Works well in fast-paced startup environment
  • Eager to bring proven lab-based leadership qualities to a growth-oriented direct management position

Preferred Qualifications

  • Successful track record of target id, validation, lead candidate selection, and optimization towards target product profiles through to developmental candidate designation
  • Successful track record of indication selection and prioritization analyses 
  • Successful track record of managing IND-enabling studies with significant contribution to FDA-approved INDs 
  • Experience working cross-functionally with protein engineering and CMC 
  • Experience with pre-commercial process and analytical development
  • Experience with process design and familiarity with scale-up and GMP manufacturing considerations 

Compensation and Benefits

  • Competitive salary, annual bonus and stock options
  • Health/Dental/Vision insurance
  • Paid vacation and holidays 

Apply Now

To apply for this position please complete the form below. Once the form is complete, email your CV and Cover Letter to with the title of the position as the subject line.