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Sr. Principal Scientist/Director, Oncology Translational Science and Clinical Biomarkers


Upper Gwynedd, PA
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Job Details

Job Title: Sr. Principal Scientist/Director, Oncology Translational Science and Clinical Biomarkers  - CLI006258


Merck & Co., Inc. Kenilworth, N.J., U.S.A. known as Merck in the United States and Canada, is a global health care leader with a diversified portfolio of prescription medicines, vaccines and animal health products. The difference between potential and achievement lies in the spark that fuels innovation and inventiveness; this is the space where Merck has codified its legacy for over a century. Merck’s success is backed by ethical integrity, forward momentum, and an inspiring mission to achieve new milestones in global healthcare.

Merck’s Oncology organization is dedicated to delivering breakthrough innovations that extend and improve the lives of cancer patients worldwide. Our team of dauntless, forward-thinking individuals achieves this through an unwavering commitment to supporting accessibility to medicine, providing new therapeutic procedures, and collaborating with governments and payers to ensure that people who need medicines have access to them. At Merck, our focus is on innovation and launch execution excellence; we translate breakthrough science into innovative medicines that help people with cancer across the globe. 

The Director will lead the design and execution of cutting-edge translational science and clinical biomarker research across Merck Oncology programs. This individual will coordinate the activities of a team of translational science and clinical biomarker leads supporting both early- and late-stage clinical development teams. The Director will have the opportunity to guide the development of translational research and biomarker plans across the entire portfolio of early- and late-stage oncology clinical programs.


Reporting into the Head of Translational Oncology, this individual will assume a role in a dynamic, cross-functional environment as the leader of an effort that represents the key interface between early-and late-stage development teams and functional areas with expertise in various scientific and operational aspects of translational research and biomarker development. The Director will guide the development and oversee the activities of individual team biomarker and translational science leads.  This guidance will ensure that translational science-related communication is optimized between development teams and the wider organization, emerging translational data from individual clinical programs are interpreted and communicated for maximal impact, and team-level clinical strategy and clinical study design are guided by emerging cross-programmatic translational data. 


Responsibilities will include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Strategic and tactical oversight of all product- and protocol-level translational research and exploratory biomarker plans
  • Participate in the analysis of a wealth of translational data from Merck-sponsored clinical studies, and help to guide the creation translational research partnerships with leading academic investigators and nonprofits
  • Will be part of a team of cross-functional leaders that guide Translational Oncology strategy across Merck’s oncology portfolio.  These efforts are expected to transform our understanding of the mechanisms of response and resistance to cancer immunotherapy, leading to the identification of new drug targets and biomarkers
  • Oversee the activities of a set of translational science and clinical biomarker leads across early- and late-stage oncology clinical development programs
  • This position will have at least two direct reports as well as a number of indirect/matrixed reports
  • Guide team’s professional development, set goals and metrics to maximize their impact as members of early- and late-stage development teams.  
  • Ensure that team-level biomarker and translational research strategies and protocol-level biomarker plans are fully articulated and aligned with broader translational research and exploratory biomarker work across the portfolio.  
  • While working with colleagues across multiple functional areas, ensures that translational science and biomarker efforts are optimally integrated into the broader organizational structure.  
  • Addresses operational issues associated with biomarker efforts, optimizing the informatics tools available to biomarker leads to allow them to leverage our growing internal datasets, building formal communication channels to ensure effective communication of emerging preclinical, translational and clinical observations, and ensuring cross-functional alignment with clinical, diagnostics and translational research leadership.  

In conjunction with colleagues in the translational research organization, supports the development of a portfolio of partnered translational research that compliments the biomarker efforts in our sponsored studies.  Interface and collaborate externally with biologists, geneticists, physicians, pathologists, and bioinformatics experts to develop a scientifically and strategically robust portfolio of research that will answer critical questions about mechanisms of immunotherapy response and resistance.  


Specific responsibilities include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Provide high-level oversight of the entire portfolio of translational research and early biomarker efforts in Merck-sponsored oncology studies.  Ensure that team-level translational science and biomarker strategy is robust and addresses critical indication-specific, drug-specific and cross-programmatic scientific questions. Co-lead a forum for formal review of all protocol-level biomarker plans.
  • Oversee the professional development and ensure the success of individual translational science and biomarker leads.  Develop organizational resources and structure to support their training and continuing education. Provide guidelines and metrics for success. 
  • Collaborate with diagnostic development leadership, ensure that translational research and clinical biomarker development efforts are harmonized with program-specific diagnostic needs. 
  • Ensure that operational resources are optimally aligned to support the science.  Interact with clinical, laboratory and genomics operational leads to optimize processes, and procedures.
  • Oversee biomarker leads as they prepare and execute data analysis plans, in conjunction with computational biology, informatics and other data analysis experts.  (Ensure that biomarker leads can interpret and communicate scientific and strategic insights from emerging data for maximal impact within their individual teams.)
  • Participate in broader strategy setting and administrative efforts as a member of the Translational Oncology Leadership Forum.   
  • Provide input to computational biology and informatics colleagues as they  develop custom data visualization tools.  
  • Drive reverse translation of clinical findings. Interface with translational and discovery laboratories to drive implementation of preclinical/translational projects based on emerging clinical/translational datasets.
  • Build and support external partnerships.  Guide individual biomarker leads to interact with external investigators around development of new translational research proposals. 



  • M.D or M.D/Ph.D.


  • A minimum of 10 years' experience in biomarker and diagnostics development and/or translational and early stage clinical research
  • Board Certified or Eligible in Oncology
  • Demonstrate a broad understanding of the end-to-end drug and diagnostic development process
  • Proven leadership ability, and specific expertise in oncology and/or immunology
  • Must have experience in clinical trial development and execution
  • Demonstrated record of scientific scholarship and achievement
  • A proven track record in clinical medicine and background in biomedical research
  • Strong interpersonal skills, as well as the ability to function in a team environment
  • Possess a broad range of knowledge and expertise that spans preclinical and translational research in oncology and/or immunology, early biomarker development, clinical application of biomarkers and diagnostics, and clinical trials
  • Possess the communication skills to regularly interface with a wide variety of stakeholders within the organization, as well as with external clinicians and scientists
  • A proven track record of leadership, mentorship and management

Preferred Experience:

  • Prior experience in oncology and/or immuno-oncology biomarker development, with expertise in preclinical, translational and/or early-stage clinical research in oncology
  • Demonstrated leadership, management and mentorship ability
  • Specific expertise in immunology and/or immuno-oncology
  • Direct experience in biomarker discovery, biomarker and diagnostic development, and early or late drug development is desired.   In particular, must have the ability to apply a strategic mindset to the generation and interpretation of exploratory biomarker data, with an understanding of how such data can be used to accelerate preclinical and clinical drug development
  • Proven mastery of both technical and bioinformatic aspects of translational research and biomarker development.  Facility with the generation and interpretation of high-dimensionality datasets
  • Experience leading cross-functional, highly matrixed collaborative groups
  • Excellent communication skills that can cross technical areas

Your role at Merck is integral to helping the world meet new breakthroughs that affect generations to come, and we’re counting on your skills and inventiveness to help make meaningful contributions to global medical advancement. At Merck, we’re inventing for life. 


If you need an accommodation for the application process please email us at


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Merck & Co., Inc. is not accepting unsolicited assistance from search firms for this employment opportunity.  Please, no phone calls or emails.  All resumes submitted by search firms to any employee at Merck via email, the Internet or in any form and/or method without a valid written search agreement in place for this position will be deemed the sole property of Merck.  No fee will be paid in the event the candidate is hired by Merck as a result of the referral or through other means.


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Job Clinical Research (M.D.)

Primary Location NA-US-PA-Upper Gwynedd

Other Locations NA-US-NJ-Rahway

Employee Status Regular

Number Of Openings 1

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