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Vice President (Senior Director), External R&D



Sales & Business Development
South San Francisco, CA, USA
Posted on Friday, December 22, 2023

The Opportunity

insitro is looking for a Vice President (Senior Director) of External Research. Reporting to the Vice President of Project and Portfolio Management through the Chief Technological Operations Officer, you will partner with leaders across the company, including Research, Drug Discovery, Research Operations, Corporate Development & Strategy, and Project management. You will have ultimate accountability for building an external R&D strategy, defining how insitro interacts with and manages its preclinical and research CRO partnerships, and for supporting alliance and outsourcing management across multiple service categories of research and preclinical trial activities.


  • In alignment with insitro's corporate and strategic goals, lead development of a comprehensive multi-year external research strategy across preclinical and research CROs and partners, with a line of sight into clinical development and external partnerships
  • Build and manage a strong strategic network of outside partners, consultants, service organizations, and high-quality CROs that meet the highest standards scientifically and ethically
  • Accountable for successful scoping, monitoring, and execution of externally sourced projects across vendor network(s) in accordance with project goals, spend, and timelines
  • In collaboration with Legal and Procurement, define and establish insitro's overall approach to governance and partnership operating models to ensure effective oversight and management of all outsourced relationships (including KPI's and metrics)
  • Pursue innovative relationships with research and CRO partners to achieve high quality execution of outsourced work
  • Leads a team to embed industry-leading processes and principles in vendor management and ensures that contractual obligations, SOP's, and guidelines are adhered to
  • Oversee and regularly review total scope of outsourced services from a scientific, output, financial, and operational perspective to ensure effective management of CRO resources and identify opportunities for continuous improvement
  • Research industry trends and innovations in research and non-clinical outsourcing and alliance management and introduces best practices
  • Set the direction and strategy for CRO alliance management that allows for flexible and cost-effective partnerships across all provider types
  • Represent insitro at senior-level partnership meetings and negotiations and ensures that business partnerships are managed in support of the research portfolio to enable effective delivery
  • Coordinate with Procurement and Legal to ensure timely, compliant, and effective execution of agreements, participates in partner selection and negotiation processes as appropriate
  • Foster and ensure a culture of transparency of progress against department infrastructural and team goals by modeling best practice for risk and issue identification, communication, and mitigation/management
  • Leads a team to embed industry-leading processes and principles in vendor management and ensures that contractual obligations, SOP's, and guidelines are adhered to
  • Open to remote and local candidates; travel (up to 20% time) will be required to oversee domestic and international partnerships

About You

  • You typically have a bachelor's degree and over 20 years of relevant experience and/or advanced education; you may be new to executive roles or have experience leading functions at smaller companies. Note: Senior director candidates may have 18+ years and/or advanced education; e.g., PhD in a scientific discipline and 12+ years of relevant experience (may include doctoral experience).
  • Excellent understanding of biotech/pharma R&D, preclinical research, clinical development and trial methodology, GCP, quality & regulatory standards and policies relevant to the services within the remit of the role
  • Experience building an external R&D strategy and managing collaborations with scientists, contract research organizations (CROs, including travel), consultants, pharmaceutical partners and other outside organizations in a matrix environment
  • Strong knowledge of a broad range of nonclinical studies relevant to drug development (Toxicology, DMPK, Bioanalytical, Biology, Pharmacology). Clinical Pharmacology and biomarker experience preferred.
  • Exceptional interpersonal, communication, and influencing skills with the ability to see issues from multiple viewpoints and understand the needs of internal and external stakeholders
  • Demonstrated ability to work in ambiguous and complex work environment while balancing multiples demands of role in a responsive and professional manner
  • Direct people management experience with demonstrated competencies in growth mindset strategies, mentoring and coaching, and a strong proven desire to share knowledge and experience in order to promote the professional development of others
  • Proven ability to engage teams and inspire them to sustain high levels of performance in a constantly changing environment
  • Successful track record of developing, implementing, and improving business processes
  • Excellent understanding of CRO landscape, including capabilities and limitations of vendors and sites worldwide with in-depth experience soliciting and critically evaluating CRO and service provider proposals, SOW terms, and growing and promoting long-term, healthy strategic relationships
  • Proven ability to lead cross-functional groups and projects, developing and executing sourcing strategies, contract negotiations, and managing 3rd party supplier relationships

Compensation & Benefits at insitro

Our target starting salary for successful US-based applicants for this role is $240,000-$300,000. To determine starting pay, we consider multiple job-related factors including a candidate's skills, education and experience, market demand, business needs, and internal parity. We may also adjust this range in the future based on market data.

This role is eligible for participation in our Annual Performance Bonus Plan (based on company targets by role level and annual company performance) and our Equity Incentive Plan, subject to the terms of those plans and associated policies.

In addition, insitro also provides our employees:

  • 401(k) plan with employer matching for contributions
  • Excellent medical, dental, and vision coverage (insitro pays 100% of premiums for employees), as well as mental health and well-being support
  • Open, flexible vacation policy
  • Paid parental leave
  • Quarterly budget for books and online courses for self-development
  • Support to occasionally attend professional conferences that are meaningful to your career growth and development
  • New hire stipend for home office setup
  • Monthly cell phone & internet stipend
  • Access to free onsite baristas and cafe with daily lunch and breakfast
  • Access to free onsite fitness center
  • Commuter benefits

insitro is an equal opportunity employer. All applicants will be considered for employment without attention to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, veteran or disability status.

We believe diversity, equity, and inclusion need to be at the foundation of our culture. We work hard to bring together diverse teams–grounded in a wide range of expertise and life experiences–and work even harder to ensure those teams thrive in inclusive, growth-oriented environments supported by equitable company and team practices. All candidates can expect equitable treatment, respect, and fairness throughout the interview process.

About insitro
insitro is a drug discovery and development company using machine learning (ML) and data at scale to decode biology for transformative medicines. At the core of insitro’s approach is the convergence of in-house generated multi-modal cellular data and high-content phenotypic human cohort data. We rely on these data to develop ML-driven, predictive disease models that uncover underlying biologic state and elucidate critical drivers of disease. These powerful models rely on extensive biological and computational infrastructure and allow insitro to advance novel targets and patient biomarkers, design therapeutics and inform clinical strategy. insitro is advancing a wholly owned and partnered pipeline of insights and therapeutics in neuroscience, oncology and metabolism. Since launching in 2018, insitro has raised over $700 million from top tech, biotech and crossover investors, and from collaborations with pharmaceutical partners. For more information on insitro, please visit www.insitro.com.